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Have your (pan)cake, and eat it too

There's a wise French saying that translates, "The more things change, the more they stay the same." It's true. Consider these historical tidbits. In medieval times during Lenten season, meat, eggs, milk and fats were forbidden not only by church law, but also by statute law. People were exhorted to eat fish and black (rye) bread. Years later, in the Year of Our Lord 1990, meat, eggs, (whole) milk and (saturated) fats aren't exactly forbidden by law or the medical establishment, but they're not encouraged either. We are exhorted to eat fish and high fiber, complex carbohydrate, whole-grain anything year-round, not just during Lent (which starts Wednesday).

Because of Middle Ages Lenten taboos, housewives cleaned out their cupboards before Lent began, to avoid temptation and possible arrest. On Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), the day before Ash Wednesday, they routinely made and served battalions of pancakes to use up the family supplies of fat, milk and eggs.

Today, few among us are reckless about cluttering our arteries or padding our southbound avoirdupois by gorging on pancakes made with unlimited amounts of butter and eggs. But there's absolutely no reason we can't have our (pan)cake and eat it too, when our pancake is made healthy with whole grains, low-fat milk or yogurt and a single egg for every two or three servings, as are pancakes in both recipes following.

Double recipes for either Bran Cakes or Oatmeal Pancakes, to make large batches for freezing. Reheat a serving at a time, in toaster, toaster oven or microwave oven, for fast and substantial breakfasts, or equally fast and light suppers.

Bran Cakes

cup all-purpose flour, dipped and leveled

{ teaspoon baking soda

\ teaspoon each cinnamon and salt (optional)

{ cup miller's bran, fine or coarse

} cup low-fat plain yogurt

1 egg OR 2 egg whites

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter

1 tablespoon molasses OR honey

Additional oil for greasing skillet

Set a heavy 10-inch skillet or saute pan on low heat to heat 5 minutes.

Sift flour with soda, cinnamon and salt into mixing bowl. Stir in bran to blend.

Measure yogurt into 2-cup measuring cup, beat in egg, oil and molasses and add to dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten dry ingredients. With pastry brush or paper towel dipped in oil, brush hot skillet lightly with oil.

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto hot skillet and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until tops are covered with unbroken bubbles. Turn before bubbles break and cook another two to three minutes, or until browned on other side. Serve immediately; or cool in single layer on cake rack, freeze uncovered on cookie sheet, then package in resealable plastic bags. Reheat frozen pancakes briefly in toaster or toaster oven before serving.

Makes 6 large pancakes, 89 calories each. Hands on and cooking times: 20 minutes.

Raisin Bran Cakes: Stir 2 tablespoons raisins into batter before cooking.

Blueberry Bran Cakes: Sprinkle each Bran Cake with a few frozen blueberries immediately after dropping batter onto skillet.

Nutty Bran Cakes: Stir 2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts into batter before cooking.

Oatmeal Pancakes

{ cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour, dipped, leveled

{ cup old fashioned rolled oats

1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds or chopped nuts (optional)

1 tablespoon sugar

1{ teaspoons baking powder

\ teaspoon salt (optional)

1 egg, beaten lightly

} cup (1 percent fat) milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil or melted butter

Set a heavy 10-inch skillet or saute pan over low heat to heat 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in mixing bowl, stir flour with oats, sunflower seed, sugar, baking powder and salt. In 2-cup measuring cup or another bowl, beat egg with milk and oil, add to dry ingredients, mixing only to blend. Cook as directed for Bran Cakes, on hot, lightly greased skillet.

Makes 9 medium pancakes, each 80 calories.

The Rice Correction: I'm sorry some of you had problems with my recipe for rice pudding, which was printed last Thursday. In order for the pudding to thicken properly, the rice-milk mixture must be poured boiling hot, straight from the stove, over the egg-sugar mixture. Otherwise, there's not enough heat to cook the egg, which, with the rice, thickens the pudding.