This Sunday kicks off National Pancake Week, which is typically celebrated during the fourth week of February. The timing of this celebration is especially appropriate this year, since Mardi Gras and the start of Lent also occurs in late February. Though many celebrate Mardi Gras, some may not know the origin of the holiday – which has a lot to do with pancakes! During Lent (the church season leading up to the celebration of Easter), many Christians eliminate certain foods considered to be indulgent, including meat, fat, eggs, and dairy. Lent begins on a Wednesday (Ash Wednesday, to be specific), so the Tuesday before Lent started, families used to throw feasts to get rid of all of the foods they had that would go bad during Lent – and pancakes could use up a supply of eggs, milk, and fat quickly. Because of the large amount of fat traditionally consumed on this day, the Tuesday before Lent became known as Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras. Pancake breakfasts are still common in churches during this time of year. This year, as happens every so often, pancake week is a bit late and is after Fat Tuesday.
Despite their historical tie to the springtime, pancakes are enjoyed year round. To create a more exciting breakfast (or breakfast for dinner, we won’t judge), here are our favorite tips to jazz up your pancakes!
Make mini-pancakes and layer them into a kabob with your favorite kinds of fruit. Drizzle a little syrup or honey on top for a dash of sweetness.
Stir a few spoonfuls of Nutella or peanut butter into the pancake batter before cooking to add extra flavor.
For a pop of color, add sprinkles or a few drops of food dye to the batter!
Place metal cookie cutters onto your pan or griddle, then pour batter inside of them to create perfectly-shaped pancakes. The cookie cutters can be removed before flipping the pancakes – by that point, they will be cooked well enough to retain their shape.
Amy Lee is a junior at Missouri State University majoring in dietetics. She plans to become a registered dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition with an emphasis on public health.
Photo Credit: Samantha Gitlin