Avoiding your allergens on Pancake Day – advice from dietitian Tanya Wright

Avoiding your allergens on Pancake Day – advice from dietitian Tanya Wright

  • 06 February 2024
  • News

Tanya Wright

Dietitian Tanya Wright shares her advice for making delicious pancakes on Pancake Day, whether you or your family are allergic to milk, wheat or eggs.

Tanya Wright is a Specialist Allergy Dietitian at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust Allergy Service, St Mary’s Hospital, London.

She is also on the Anaphylaxis UK Clinical and Scientific Panel.

Pancakes usually contain egg, milk and flour, and the allergens are milk proteins, egg proteins and wheat proteins. They sometimes contain many more ingredients, especially if they are purchased from a supermarket. By making some simple swaps and checking labels, you and your family can still enjoy pancakes that taste just as good, without having to worry. Here’s Tanya’s top tips.

How to avoid your allergens on Pancake Day

  1. Don’t miss out on having pancakes just because you are allergic to the usual ingredients. Keep positive and focus on what you can have – you can try an allergen free recipe so you don’t have to miss out.
  2. You can substitute the egg, milk or flour (wheat) with other ingredients if you are making pancakes yourself.
  3. Remember to check the ingredients of the substitutes you are using in case they contain other ingredients that you didn’t know about.
  4. It’s not just the ingredients you are using but the utensils and pans you use to cook them with. Ensure these are clean, and use your usual oil.
  5. If your allergies are severe, consider having your own labelled pans and utensils to prevent cross contamination and reduce stress, and don’t cook your pancakes at the same time as ones that contain your allergen.
  6. If you want to eat pancakes all year round, consider investing in a pancake maker, and keep it away from the foods you are allergic to. You can also use this to make your flatbreads and blinis.
  7. Get others to try your pancakes – if they like them you can make them for everyone and you can all have the same (they will barely be able to tell the difference anyway!)
  8. If you are buying pancakes, check the ingredients carefully. You might find some vegan pancakes but many vegan foods are labelled as being unsuitable for people with milk and egg allergies – avoid these products if you have had severe reactions in the past or have reacted to trace allergens in the past.
  9. If you have a severe wheat allergy and others are cooking pancakes, stay away from the kitchen whilst the flour is being poured from the packet and is in the air.
  10. If you have an egg allergy but can eat cakes containing egg, you should be fine to eat pancakes from the ambient aisle in the supermarket, but not those from the chilled aisle, homemade pancakes, and those made with a pancake mix – because the egg is not cooked or processed for the same amount of time which makes it more likely you will react to them if you cannot tolerate part cooked egg. 

Simple swaps for making your own pancakes

If you have an egg allergy

To make egg-free pancakes you can:

  • Leave out the egg and simply make the pancake batter with flour and milk – it works just as well. You can use cow’s milk or a plant based milk.
  • Substitute the egg with an alternative such as pureed apple, banana or many of the other replacement options. See the suggestions from egglesscooking.

If you have a milk allergy

To make dairy-free pancakes, make your pancakes as usual but use a plant-based milk such as soya milk, oat milk, coconut milk, rice milk or a nut milk, depending on what you tolerate.

Don’t forget that lactose-free milk is not dairy-free. Lactose-free cow’s milk contains whole cow’s milk proteins so is not suitable if you are allergic to milk.

If you have a wheat allergy or can’t tolerate wheat

To make wheat-free pancakes, use your usual wheat-free flour. These are usually made from flour from tapioca, potato, quinoa, or corn/maize, for example.

Be aware that gluten-free flours can contain gluten-free wheat starch so are not suitable for someone with a wheat allergy. You can avoid these by checking ingredients labels carefully and never assuming that foods or ingredients are suitable until then.

You can find wheat- and gluten-free recipes, with and without egg and dairy, from Coeliac UK.

You don’t need to cut out the ingredients you’re not allergic to

If you only have a milk or egg allergy, you definitely don’t need to exclude wheat flour, and visa versa – if you only have a wheat allergy, you can include milk and egg to make better pancakes. But if you and your family need to avoid all three then you can still make some wonderful pancakes.

More from Tanya

Tanya has a cookbook available:I’m Hungry: Easy Family Recipes, for recipes free from milk, egg, soya, wheat and gluten. You can buy the book directly from Tanya for £4.50 including postage. Email Tanyadwright@hotmail.com

Plus, get practical tips for managing food allergies in children in this video with Tanya.