With Shrove Tuesday looming, we celebrate a tasty alternative for winter carb-loading with RW's complete guide to pancakes
Of all the foods to keep the anatomical engine firing on all cylinders, pancakes may not be the first thing that springs to the nutritionally conscious mind. But they deliver a blend of carbs and protein, which means runners should consider them more than a one-Tuesday-a-year treat. Especially if garnished with some nutritionally-savvy preparation tweaks, which we’ll show you on the following pages. ‘They’re a dense source of energy, meaning that you don’t have to stuff your face to get a great deal of calories out of them,’ says Lisa Dorfman, director of the University of Miami’s programme on nutrition for health and human performance.
Pancakes go way back. The word originates from an ancient Greek flat cake called plakous, and the first English recipe was recorded in a 1588 book titled Good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchen. Different cultures have different takes: the French paper-thin, crispy crepes; the Russians blinis; Americans thick and fluffy. But they’re not just a pan-cultural comfort food. After the shift in sports-nutrition thinking towards carb-loading in the late 1960s and early 1970s, pancakes became an approved option for athletes. US Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall eats a big pancake every day. ‘Sometimes I throw in sour cream, ricotta cheese or chocolate chips,’ he says. ‘After workouts, they really hit the spot.’
It’s not just about fuel: like all of us who live in the euphoric loop of burning energy and earning rewards, Hall understands their soul-satisfying power. ‘If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life,’ he says, ‘it’d be pancakes.’
So… are you flippin’ ready?