A couple times a year my mother would dust off the old crepe maker and make crepes for my family. I always looked forward to crepe days. I can remember the excitement I felt when I smelled the sweet crepe aroma fill the house.
Crepes are simple and delicate. They are similar to a pancake (or as my husband likes to refer to them as wet pancakes). The main difference between a crepe and a pancake is that a crepe does not have any rising agents, like baking soda or powder. A crepe can be the perfect base for anything breakfast or dessert. Some prefer the crepe plain, while others fill it with yogurt or top it will maple syrup.
When I moved out on my own and started making my own food, I can recall that I craved crepes. I was determined to learn how to make them so that I could once again enjoy them for breakfast on the weekends. Since my parents owned and used a crepe maker I thought I must do the same. I went through several crepe makers, fighting with each one and eventually pitching all of them. I believe my parents must either have the only crepe maker in the world that actually works properly or they just don’t make things like they used too.
Since I was now free of the crepe maker’s clutches, I needed to find a way to make crepes without the crepe maker. I reviewed videos online and learned that I could accomplish a perfect crepe by using a good non-stick medium sized saucepan. After many trials of getting the heat right and the correct batter amount, I felt I had finally mastered the crepe.
A traditional crepe recipe is not unhealthy by any means. It is truly one of the most basic of recipes out there. Crepe recipes generally call for just flour, egg and milk. Some (a lot actually) call for butter or oil to be added to the batter. Others add sugar and salt. For my healthy crepe recipe I wanted to make sure the I kept the crepe flavor and texture as close to the original as possible.
For my healthy crepe recipe egg whites are used instead of the whole egg. Sugar is replaced with pure Stevia extract (or can be omitted all together). I removed the butter and oil element completely from the healthy recipe. The butter or oil in a traditional crepe recipe does give the final crepe a crisper texture, so without it the crepe will have a more “doughy” texture. I actually prefer the doughier texture so removing the butter or oil was actually an added plus for me. However, if your diet and body allows for it you can add about 3 tablespoons of butter or oil to the recipe.
Another optional ingredient in the healthy crepe recipe is vanilla extract. I have not found too many crepe recipes that call for vanilla extract and I actually added it to my crepe batter by accident. The accident turned into an amazing tasting crepe so I kept the vanilla extract in my recipe from that day on. I have also experimented with other flavor extracts in my crepe batter. I can safely say that almond and hazelnut flavored crepes are just as amazing (sometimes more amazing) than the standard vanilla or non-flavored crepe. If you have these extracts or want to try something different I highly suggest it, you will not regret it!
For the milk part of the healthy crepe recipe, you can use either cows milk or almond milk. Both milks work just find in this recipe, though the almond milk tends to make a more “gummier” crepe. If using the almond milk please note you may have to add a tiny bit more to the batter since it is known for being slightly thicker then cows milk. I have noticed not all almond milks have the same consistency so the extra amount will depend on what brand you use. The same goes for cows milk. I prefer to use low fat cows milk in my recipe. Low fat cows milk is thinner then the fatter cow milk options. If you choose a cow milk with more fat you may need to add more of it, or even add some water, to achieve the right crepe batter consistency.
In regards to flour, I have tried using alternatives to the basic all purpose flour. I have tried soy flour, wheat flour, rice flour and oat flour just to name a few. Wheat flour and oat flour do produce a pretty good crepe. However, in the end, the all purpose flour does hold up the best in regards to cooking, flavor and texture. Unbleached all purpose flour is a good alternative to some of the standard all purpose flours offered at the grocery store.
Healthy Crepe Recipe (With Non-Dairy/Vegan Option)
1 cup flour
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or cows milk (low fat)
1 egg white (or egg replacement like Ener-G Egg Replacer, for a vegan recipe)
a dash of salt
a dash of pure stevia extract (optional or use 1 tablespoon of sugar)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional or use any other extract, almond and hazelnut being two of the best)
Combine all ingredients on a food processor/blender. Blend on high for about a minute. Let the batter settle for a couple minutes, this will help the bubbles in the batter dissipate. Heat a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Spray a cooking spray, of your choice, covering the bottom of the pan. I prefer to use spray coconut oil but any spray oil will do. Wipe the oil around the pan to ensure even coverage. Pour about 1/3 cup worth of batter into the center of the saucepan. Swirl the saucepan around so that the batter lines the bottom of pan. This is a technique that is hard to get right on your first try. However, once you get the technique right, it is just like riding a bike and you will be able to do it perfectly every time. Let the spread out batter cook for a couple minutes. You will see the batter turn from a shiny liquid to a more matte finished crepe. Check the underside of the crepe and once it appears lightly brown (about 2 to 3 minutes) you can remove the crepe from the pan using a wide spatula. Allow crepe to cool slightly and then wrap into a roll. You can fill the crepe with yogurt, top with maple syrup or just eat plain.