Sweet Simplicity: Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes

With mother’s day on the horizon, and many pancake Sundays to come, I just had to share this delightful yet oh-so-basic breakfast / brunch recipe. These pancakes have a very pleasant flavor that is not too sweet (just right for your favorite toppings), and a perfectly fluffy texture.

whole wheat vegan pancakes

I frequently keep our toppings quite hearty. When I make waffles, I often top them with homemade nut butter, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a light drizzle of honey. But for these, I decided a little maple was in order. I made two separate toppings: mine was outright hearty, while my husband’s had some added nutrition snuck in (no complaints, his plate was licked clean with a very big thank you). I have included our toppings after the pancake recipe.

Wholesome Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes or Waffles

After scanning various pancake recipes, I combined the different ratios, ingredients, and ideas to develop this very simple, but delicious, recipe. I guess you would say it was inspired by many, but created in my kitchen.

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Soy-Free, and optionally Refined Sugar-Free. You could probably make them gluten-free with your favorite All-purpose gluten-free flour blend and a touch of xanthan gum (1/2 to 1 teaspoon I am guestimating).

  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder (Note: I made these pancakes at high altitude (6500ft), where everything gets a little extra “lift.” If you are at 3000 ft to sea level, I recommend increasing the baking powder to 1-1/2 Tablespoons. Yes, it may seem like a bit, but it helps to replace the lift that usually comes from eggs!)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Sweetener (I used Palm Sugar, but you can use Sucanat, Brown Sugar, Maple Syrup, etc.)
  • 1 to 1-1/4 Cups Milk Alternative (I used Unsweetened Coconut Milk Beverage)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoons Oil (I used melted coconut oil*, but extra-light olive oil, grapeseed oil, or your favorite baking oil will do)

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, and set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine the sweetener, 1 cup of the milk alternative, and the oil. Whisk in the reserved flour mixture.

 dairy-free pancake batter

If the batter is too thick or becomes too thick as it sits, add up to 1/4 cup of additional milk alternative (I live at high altitude, where things rise more, so I used the full 1 and 1/4 cups for the pancakes, but you may not need that much).

Prepare your skillet with some cooking spray, and preheat it over medium heat.

Pour the batter into the skillet to create your desired size of pancakes (I make dollar-sized ones because I am so bad at flipping the bigger ones!). Cook over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low if the skillet gets too hot (I have this problem with our electric stove).

The pancakes will bubble as soon as the batter hits the pan, ignore those bubbles. The batter will smooth out after 30 seconds. Wait until you see bubbles break at the surface again, then flip. Cook for about about 1 minute on the other side. Remove from the pan, and pour in the next batch of batter.

Repeat until all the batter is used up, and you have a few plates of scrumptious pancakes!

Top as desired – we like maple syrup, flaxseed, and sauteed apples.

For Waffles: Everything is the same, but I used only 1 cup of milk alternative, even at high altitude. The thicker batter works better on waffle irons. Simply prepare the batter and follow the directions for your waffle iron. They freeze and re-toast beautifully!

whole wheat vegan waffles

* If using coconut or palm oil, make sure all of your ingredients are brought to room temperature to avoid solidifying the oil as you stir it in.

Yields about 16 dollar pancakes or 3 servings

Alisa’s WW Pancake Topping: I sautéed 1 small apple in 1 teaspoon of earth balanace dairy-free / soy-free margarine, and added 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (could use just 1/4 t). I kept half of this apple mixture for myself, and added just 1 teaspoon of maple syrup for a sweet and moist touch. I placed the apples on my pancake stack, and sprinkled it all with some ground flaxseed.

whole wheat vegan pancakes

Tony’s WW Pancake Topping: To the other half of the cooked apples, I added 1-1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup and 1 Tablespoon ground flaxseed. It was still a nice pourable maple syrupy topping with big, soft apple chunks. The flax went pretty well un-noticed by my husband.

Whole Wheat Vegan Pancakes

For more of my recipes see Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook and my new blog, Dairy-Free & Fit.

Sweet Nutrition: True Blue Smoothie

Thanks to this year’s bumper blueberry crop, our [tiny] freezer is quickly filling. But I must say, it is worth it; this year’s blueberries seem sweeter than ever. Plus, you can’t beat the prices. We have been getting loads of these delicious Oregon blueberries for just $1.00 to $2.00 per lb at our local grocery stores.

Though I offered to make some blueberry bars, my husband quickly declined with a, “Save them for the smoothies!” Considering how much he loves cookies and bars, this says a ton for his adoration of our homemade smoothies. In fact, there is one sweet blueberry smoothie, which  he not only enjoys immensely, but also brags to others about (in attempts to thwart his less than healthy childhood image).

You might be thinking, “Sure, fruit smoothies are healthy; what’s the big deal?” Well, for starters, I make them only with ripe fruit and unsweetened liquids, no added sugars; though you are welcome to sweeten to taste if your fruit is less than scrumptious. I also add in whatever I think we need at the time, such as some ground flaxseed, a little protein powder, etc. But what my husband got most excited about was what he didn’t know was in the smoothies for the first two months I was serving them too him.

Can you tell? (focus on the blue and please ignore the water spots!)

truebluesmoothie2

Do you see those wonderfully sweet blueberry flecks throughout? Those were my disguise. What you can’t taste, or see, is the spinach! You have probably seen claims on other blogs that you can’t taste spinach in smoothies. Years ago I put this theory to the test, and it was true, but because it turned the smoothie a less than attractive green, I couldn’t get my husband to go near it. However, when I snuck the spinach into this blueberry smoothie (blackberries work too), he was none the wiser, as he happily sipped away his new favorite breakfast.  

After I let him in on the secret, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. I have overheard him many times boasting, “You can add spinach to smoothies and you can’t even taste it!” My job here is done …

 

True Blue Smoothie

This recipe is adapted from my book! – Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Depending on the milk alternative you use, this recipe can be Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Nut-Free, Sugar-Free, and Low Fat.

“This is my go-to smoothie, and trust me on this one … don’t omit the spinach. I don’t care who you are serving it to, they will never know it is in there. The blueberries mask the green color, resulting in a beautiful purple beverage. As for the flavor … even the most adamant non-believers come back to me with surprise comments of delight. I never add sweetener, but feel free to add a bit if your fruit isn’t very sweet.”

  •  1 Medium Very Ripe Banana, Broken into Chunks
  • 1 Cup Frozen Blueberries
  • 1/2 to 1 Cup Plain or Vanilla Milk Alternative of Choice [This summer I am using 1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk]
  • 1/2 Cup Packed Fresh Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Ice

Toss the banana, blueberries, and 1/2 cup of the milk alternative into your blender, and process until smooth. Add the cinnamon (if using), flax seeds, and spinach, and blend until those little green specks vanish. Blend in more milk alternative until it reaches your desired consistency. If desired, blend in a handful of ice for a frostier treat.

Optional Add-ins:

  • Sweetener, to Taste (agave, sugar, or your choice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Flax Seeds (left whole or pre-ground in your spice grinder)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons Protein Powder of Choice

Yields 1 to 2 Servings

 

Freezing Blueberries (or other summer berries) – As mentioned, blueberries freeze beautifully:

  1. As soon as you get home with your bounty, set aside some fresh ones to consume over the next few days.
  2. Take the remaining blueberries, rinse them well, and pat them dry.
  3. I usually leave them on the counter on a towel in a single layer, after I have patted them dry, for an hour or so to get rid of any excess moisture.
  4. Place the blueberries in large freezer bags (make sure they are freezer bags, not the regular ones), zip them closed, getting as much air out as possible, and freeze.
  5. I usually lay the bags flat in the freezer and stack one on top of the other.

Crumbly Apple Crisp with a Maple Finish

As I looked around for ideas to use up some organic apples that I found in the discount bin (still nice and firm, but begging to be turned into a baked goodie!), I came across oodles of recipes for one of our favorite desserts, Apple Crisp, or is it an Apple Crumble? Really, what is the difference? My mother-in-law calls it a crumble, but I have always called it a crisp, and they both seem pretty much the same. So what is a baffled baker to do? I googled.

From Emme on the CHOW boards “apple crumble in the UK is apples baked with a topping of flour, butter and sugar. In N. America, it’s basically the same thing, but the topping is made primarily with rolled oats rather than flour. It’s almost always made with cinnamon and sometimes nuts are added to it as well.”

Another site simply noted that the topping of a Crisp was like a streusel, while the topping of a Crumble is more like a crumbly pastry.

Based on these two definitions, I decided that the recipe I ended up creating (none of the ones I found on the net sounded just right!) was indeed a Crumbly Apple Crisp rather than a Crispy Apple Crumble.

crumblyapplecrisp

My entire family loves any dessert with apples, so for my grandma’s birthday, I made this delicious crisp. Everyone loved it. It is high on the streusel to apple ratio (can you ever have enough streusel topping?), and the light drizzling of maple seals the deal, quite literally. Not only does it add a heavenly flavor, it also binds the streusel to form a crust that crumbles beautifully when you dig your fork into it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any dished up photos since we devoured it too quickly! But, I have to give you a close-up of the yummy topping …

crumblyapplecrispcloseup

Crumbly M-Apple Crisp

This recipe is Vegan, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, and Soy-Free. I haven’t tested it, but you could probably swap your favorite gluten-free flour blend and certified gluten-free oats to make a tasty gluten-free crisp.

  • 4 medium to large apples (I don’t peel them)
  • 1/2 Cup All-Purpose or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Dairy-Free Margarine (I used the new Earth Balance Soy-Free, perfect!)
  • 3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 Cup Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats (not instant; can reduce and use part nuts, if desired)
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon, divided
  • ¼ Teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 2 Tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup (mine was spiked with vanilla! – stir ¼ t vanilla into the maple if desired)

 Preheat your oven to 350º.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, sugar, ½ teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg. Add the margarine and combine with a fork until the mixture looks like big, coarse crumbs. Set aside.

Core the apples, and thinly slice them (about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness). Toss them with the remaining ½ teaspoon of cinnamon, and place them in an 8 x8 inch baking dish. Top the apples with the oat mixture. Drizzle the maple syrup over everything. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the apples are soft and tender and the crumble is as crispy as you like it.

Baking Note: If you are like me, then you probably made sure the topping was very evenly distributed, and covered all of those apples. The maple drizzled over top almost creates a seal then. So even when you remove the dish from the oven, the apples will keep cooking a bit under the crumbly crust. For that reason, I wouldn’t cook this for too long. Depending on your apples, you may even be able to get away with 25 or 30 minutes of baking time, but 35 minutes worked well for us.

Yields 6 to 8 crumbly crispy servings

 

*********************************************

 

5 Good Things Since My Last Post

  1. Enjoyed a leisurely lunch with my dad at Whole Foods. Their sushi rolls are actually a decent value overall, and of course, the company was excellent.
  2. I can finally do chin-ups! – Successfully finished week 10 of a fitness program we are trialing … and still going strong. What program? More on that later.
  3. Had delicious pancakes two mornings in a row. Yum! Just a few tweeks to test in one of the recipes before I can share. 
  4. My husband mopped all the floors and vacuumed AND cleaned the carpets in the whole house voluntarily!
  5. We literally made it just in time for the fireworks show (stopped the car and the first one went up) and had a great view.

Sinful Cinnamon-Apple Sauté (Breakfast or Dessert?)

Actually, this little dish isn’t sinful at all, but that title just sounds so good doesn’t it? Well, this saute does produce tender, juicy apples with a wonderfully rich, sweet, and cinnamon-y syrup, rendering it indulgent enough for a healthy dessert.

Cinnamon Apple Saute

However, I had it for breakfast. I ate it on its own as a part of my multi-course Sunday grazing. But, this simple recipe (just 10 minutes!) is incredibly flexible when it comes to serving options. You can:

  • Serve the apples with your favorite yogurt (mine being this one), stirring a bit of the resultant cinnamon apple syrup into the yogurt if desired.
  • Top waffles with the apples and resultant cinnamon-apple syrup.
  • Spread nut butter on a bagel, toast, or rice cakes, and top with slices of cinnamon apples (one of my faves).
  • Serve over rice or other grain (I don’t know why I just thought of this one, but it really sounds good).
  • Sprinkle the apples with ground flaxseed or your favorite granola (homemade if you can!).
  • Top the apples with a scoop of ice cream (this one and this one being my picks), drizzling some of the resultant syrup over top of everything for a sundae flare. Oh what the heck, sprinkle on some granola too!
  • You say you’ve finished the apples, but have a little bit of leftover syrup? Use it to sweeten your favorite tea! Problem solved.

Okay, now that you are brimming with ideas, lets get to the kitchen …

 

Simply Scrumptious Cinnamon-Apple Sauté
Recipe adapted from the October 2007 issue of Natural Health Magazine

This recipe is Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, optionally Vegan, and optionally Soy-Free

  • 2 Medium Apples (around 3/4 to 1 lb), sliced 1/4-inch thick (no need to peel!)
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice (fresh squeezed if you have it)
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Oil or Margarine (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey or Maple Syrup (I used honey, but I think maple syrup may be even better)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • Generous Pinch of Salt (especially if using oil rather than margarine)

In a medium sized bowl, toss the apple slices with the lemon juice and briefly set aside.

In a large skillet, melt heat the oil or margarine over medium heat. Add the honey or maple syrup and the vanilla extract, giving everything a quick stir. Add the apples, and stir to coat them with the sweet sauce. Sprinkle on the cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and once again, stir to ensure the apples are evenly coated.

Cover, and allow the apples to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (or until desired tenderness) checking in to stir once or twice.

They are ready! Enjoy them as is, or see the beginning of this post for some serving options.

Cinnamon Pears Option: Use 2 medium pears instead of the apples. Pears are generally softer than apples, so you will only need 2 to 3 minutes of cooking time once covered.

Yields 2 Yummy Servings of Apples

Cinnamon Apple Saute

 

My Earth Day Note: One of my Earth Day resolutions is to try to eat more seasonally. While I was sure that apples were a fall fruit, it seems the crops are brimming right now. I purchase organic apples, since they are a top “pesticide crop.” An abundance of northwest apples (as local as it gets for this area) allowed me to purchase a bag of these beauties (Fuji I believe) for less than a dollar a pound.

Virtuous Whole Grain Banana Muffins

In case you haven’t noticed from my past recipes, I am always looking for ways to use up those leftover bananas. For some odd reason, I purchase the same amount of bananas year round, regardless of our internal demand. In the summers, morning smoothies ensure that we go through at least one or two bananas per day, but in the winter and early spring, the last thing on my mind is a monstrously chilly beverage. So here I sit, once again, with a bunch of quickly ripening bananas, simply begging to lend their sweetness to a baked goodie.

Trying desperately to keep it healthy, I was elated when I found a whole wheat banana muffin recipe on Recipezaar that numerous people swore rose beautifully. They did not lie. I altered the recipe in several ways (reducing the fat a touch, adding some flavors, etc.), but still used their moisture ratio as my guide. These muffins turned out, dare I say about a whole grain muffin, relatively light and fluffy! Keep in mind; these are muffins, not cupcakes. They aren’t overly sweet, yet they are perfect (in my opinion) for early morning taste buds or with afternoon tea. I added raisins for an extra jolt of natural sugar, but you can swap them out for nuts, chocolate chips (I can’t stand chocolate in muffins/bread, just me though), blueberries, or other add-ins. You will still need some of that hot water in the ingredient list though (see the recipe to know what I am talking about).

banana-nut frosted banana muffins

I “frosted” one fresh out of the oven with a quick mixture of some leftover mashed banana, nut butter, ground flaxseeds, and some flavors to taste (molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg). For a sweeter added touch, “frost” them with your favorite jam.

Whole-Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Banana Muffins

This Recipe is Milk-Free, Soy-Free, Tree Nut-Free, Peanut-Free

  • 1/2 Cup Raisins (or more if you like)
  • Boiling Water (about 1 cup should do)
  • 1-3/4 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Wheat Germ
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Banana
  • 1/4 Cup Grapeseed or Vegetable Oil
  • 1/2 Cup Honey or Agave Nectar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Place the raisins in a small bowl, and cover them with the hot/boiling water.

Preheat your oven to 325ºF and grease 12 muffin cups.

In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, wheat germ, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Briefly set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, blend the banana, oil, honey, eggs, and vanilla. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Add 5 tablespoon s (1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) of the hot raisin water to your mixing bowl.

Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in your large mixing bowl, stirring just to combine. Do not over mix. The baking soda begins to react as soon as it hits the liquid, so over mixing will cause the muffins to loose some of their fluffiness … a few lumps are okay.

Stir in the plumped raisins, and divide the batter evenly between your 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 20 to 24 minutes, or until they just begin to take on a golden hue, and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin, comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the muffin cups, then remove to a wire rack.

Yields 1 Dozen Muffins

dairy-free banana wheat muffins

Wheat-Free Option:
Use spelt or oat flour in place of the wheat flour, and substitute ground flax for the wheat germ.  I would guess that you could also use your favorite gluten-free flour blend (with xanthan gum as directed) to make them gluten-free / casein-free too if you wished).

Tips:
Be sure the bananas are quite ripe; this will add sweetness to the muffins.
Measure the oil in a ¼ cup, then use the same cup to measure the honey. The oil coating on the measuring cup will help keep the honey from sticking.

Happy Baking!