Why Vegan Pancakes Are Better than OG Pancakes
I know. Triggering title. Bold statement. You might have even clicked just to see what nonsense vegan people have gotten into now.
But before you threaten to tar and feather me because I added the word “vegan” before your childhood favorite, first let me explain something: I am not vegan. I actually rarely eat vegan. But I'll tell you what: when I do, I like it. A lot. And my body feels pretty dang good too.
Ever since becoming a father, I have been even more HYPER aware of what I put into my body. Because my son will do as he sees, not as I say. So if I want him to be conscious about what he puts in his body, I need to be.
And you know what? People go vegan for a myriad of valid reasons.
But I'm not here to preach about that. No, sir. That is NOT my fight.
No, I'm just dipping my toes into the vegan pool with a recipe I believe will turn any skeptic into a vegan pancake fiend. Seriously. They are that good.
But WHY Vegan?
First of all, eating vegan isn't always a choice. Roughly 2% of world's population has an egg allergy that doesn't allow them to enjoy the incredibly versatile food housed in a glorious white shell.
“2%?!? That's a small number!” Well, is 150 MILLION PEOPLE a small number? Because that's 2% of the world population, amigo. And sure, the vast majority of those people are children, and studies show that 70% of them will outgrow this allergy by the age of 16… but that doesn't change the fact that the allergy exists, and it ranges from mild to severe, and can even be life-threatening.
That Sucks and All… But PANCAKES?!
Listen, I know. Pancakes are gloriously fluffy and moist and stack beautifully… and maybe your parents even turned them into Mickey Mouse or a gray, fat-headed alien just to make eating them all that much more fun.
Who doesn't have a deeply personal and joyful memory attached to pancakes? Seriously, think about it. EVERYONE DOES.
So am I here to stomp on those memories and kill nostalgia for the fun of it?
No, I'm here to tell you a secret: Vegan Pancakes Taste Like Real Pancakes. Some might argue that they're better. And I believe that, as long as you do them right... they absolutely do.
You're Gonna Have to Prove It
I know, that's why I'm writing this article! Keep up, we have a lot to talk about.
First, let's look at the ingredients of REGULAR Pancakes:
Flour, baking soda, and salt aren't going anywhere. And you don't have to say bye-bye to sugar (but I will recommend alternatives you'll find hard to argue with).
Eggs, milk, and butter are obviously not vegan. So these need modifications.
TO THE MODIFIER
[gif of superhero flying off]
Don't Touch My Butter
You don't have to convince me that butter is nectar of the gods. Hell, my mother and I used to dip sticks of butter in sugar and eat them. We called them “Shame Sticks”. I'm not even kidding. I'm from the Deep South, there are weirder things on sticks or deep fried.
So, what's a butter connoisseur like myself supposed to use instead?
Well, there isn't one way to butter this proverbial cat. Depending on whether you're baking, cooking, or spreading, butter alternatives will vary.
But since we're talking about cooking some pancakes and then slathering some yummy butter all over them, lets talk about options:
For the Batter:
(Sidenote: You can use any of the slather butters in the batter as well. Personally, I use homemade Vegan Honey Butter in the batter, and Miyoko's to spread on the flapjacks.)
And before you jump to any “but they can't taste as good as butter” conclusions, give them a taste. I guarantee you will be shocked.
And now that you're starting to see the light, let's move on to…
To Milk, or Not to Milk?
This one takes less convincing. Because people have been putting milk substitutes into their coffees for years. I remember when soy was the only option at Starbucks, in the dark years before almond milk. Now, there are so many it can be a bit dizzying.
And now it's common to skip the dairy and use cashew milk on your cereal, or some macadamia nut milk in your smoothie.
So the idea of swapping regular milk out for, say, almond, in a recipe... isn't the most egregious offense you'll make all day.
But Why Replace Milk?
Well, even though milk is PACKED with nutrients, it can be hard to digest, and lactose intolerances are on the rise.
So, if you just want to avoid stomach issues, or need to avoid dairy, make sure your replacement has plenty of vitamin d, calcium, and protein.
But I'm Sick of Soy Milk!
Same, my friend. SAME. But there are so many alternatives to choose from now!
Almond milk is my personal standby, but you can do soy, cashew, macadamia, walnut, and even oat milk (which is VERY popular in the UK, and for good reason).
So, give any of these a shot, and you'll know in one sip that you're not on the wrong path. And neither will your vegan pancakes!
Take Anything But My Eggs!
Look, I eat eggs like it's my day job. Over-easy with toast, scrambled with potatoes, hard-boiled with a sprinkle of salt… I love me some eggs.
But it's not like I take a bite into a pancake and say, “oh man, that egg flavor really ties the whole experience together. Without it, pancakes are trash!”
Eggs, in the case of most baking and cooking, are used for binding dry ingredients and supporting the cook (by providing structure, leavening, and a rich flavor). And guess what? Lots of other things do that too!
But Egg Replacers Are WEIRD
Image via Ener-G: Ener-G Egg Replacer
Ener-G Egg Replacer has been around for ages. And I swear I saw that box in my grandparents' pantry behind the Grape Nuts and Dried Prunes. Well, our grandparents may have been onto something. Because Ener-G has been around long enough for people to know that It works. Still though, it's not the most appetizing replacement.
Same goes for silken tofu, or a combo of baking soda and vinegar – which could outright massacre the delicious flavor of your vegan pancakes. But, if done in the right quantities, baking soda and apple cider vinegar can make for an excellent egg replacement.
Which One Wouldn't Make Me Want to Hurl?
Weird flex, but I get where you're coming from.
In concept, these next two don't sound appetizing, but the work beautifully.
Flegg is ground flaxseed and water. Despite the name, this mimics the attributes of an egg very well. Same with Chia Seeds in hot water. Once the seeds puff up and create an egg-like goo, you'll know you're on the right path. Both do a bang-up job of providing structure, leavening, and a rich moistness to the pancakes.
But What Do YOU Use?
Me? Well, I prefer to use two of the most universally loved foods in all of existence: Applesauce and Bananas.
That's right. They do the trick AND add a subtle flavor that works perfectly with pancakes. Just think about Apple Cinnamon pancakes, or sliced bananas on top of your flapjack stack. Great, right? Well, add those flavors INSIDE the pancake, why don't ya?
Have I gotten your attention yet? Are you starting to see that replacing eggs could actually ENHANCE the flavor of your pancakes? Because mashing up a banana or tossing in some yummy applesauce will lift regular pancakes to new heights.
Now That I Have Your Attention
Are you starting to thinkthat making pancakes vegan ISN'T blasphemous? And could actually make for more a delicious result?
Then you're not an insane person, congrats!
So, let's talk about the benefits:
Kid-Friendly Isn't a 4-Letter Word
Your child will not only love vegan pancakes, but also you can have a conversation about health, cooking, and how the world is full of magical things like flegg which, though it sounds like you're clearing your throat when you say it, represents the sheer versatility in both in the natural world and in the kitchen.
Who Doesn't Like Moist Pancakes?
Ever had a pancake that was so flavorless and dry that you wished you'd ordered literally anything else on the menu?
So have I, and so has everyone else. BUT, if you're using applesauce or mashed bananas, you'll NEVER run into that problem.
And I'm even a stickler for slightly crispy edges on my pancakes. You can achieve that crisp AND have a nice gooey center with a vegan replacement for eggs.
No Rumblin' in the Tumblin'
Who hasn't said the phrase, “I think I had too much dairy”, while holding their stomach like the actors in a Pepto-Bismol commercial? Stop lying, Frank – yes you have.
Removing dairy from pancakes will remove your hand from your stomach, or it will keep it there and move in a circular path as you murmur “Yummmm” to everyone around you. Soon, you will all be “Yum”-ing together like a group of yogis Om-ing their way to bliss.
But now, before we talk about the recipe... let's talk about sugars:
The Sweetner, the Bettner?
Like I said earlier, you CAN continue using traditional white sugar. Or even replace it with brown sugar. But if you're anything like me, too much sugar can make you crash at random points of the day.
For the most part, I try to avoid sugar throughout the day. I fail regularly, but at least I try. But for me, avoiding refined sugars or sugars high in glucose is important.
And I suspect if you or a loved one is diabetic or has a high blood glucose level, you're probably not eating pancakes that often, anyway.
Well, buckle up, buddy, because you can get on this vegan pancake train with no fuss!
The Battle of the Sweeteners
By all means, use refined white sugars or brown sugar in your vegan pancakes. But first you should know this:
Sugar is a carbohydrate. And like all foods, the higher the carb count, the sooner you'll feel hungry for more. It's deceptive like that. Your body craves carbs, but if you turbo-load with empty sugar, your body will be asking for more of that sweet stuff VERY SOON.
And unless you want to have pancakes for every meal (more power to ya!), there are ways to watch your intake while maintaining a natural, delicious, sweetness to your vegan pancakes.
But You're No Scientist!
No, but scientists DID create the Glycemic Index (GI) which measures how much carb-rich food raises your blood glucose level. This is VERY important for people with blood glucose issues, but it's also important for anyone to know if they care about what they are putting into their body.
For example, refined white sugar has a GI of 60. And the GI goes from 0-100 – the higher the number, the more it affects your blood glucose level. So 60 is up there with the worst offenders.
So Use Honey Then, Ya Dummy
I would be glad to, except that honey is a 58 on the GI.
So, sure, it's better. But not that much better.
BUT I NEED MY SUGAR
Calm down, you're scaring me.
There's a silver lining to it all. And the magical replacement I'd recommend to everyone is... Agave Nectar.
Nectar of the Gods?
Agave Nectar is like syrup, and tastes just as sweet, IF NOT SWEETER. But it has a GI of 19. The sugar is more complex, and the glucose levels are crazy low.
Are You Talking About "Healthy" Sugar?
Let's not go that far.
Agave nectar's sugar components are 70-90% fructose, in comparison to honey's 40%. And while that's better for your blood glucose levels, it's not great for ailments that can come with high-fructose sugars, like obesity, fatty liver, and memory loss.
That may sound dramatic, but the moral of the story? Use sugars sparingly no matter what. No one sugar is ASTRONOMICALLY better than another, health-wise. BUT, the differences between them are important. And for me, I don't intake much high-fructose sugar, so Agave Nectar in my Vegan Pancakes makes for the flavor I want, and doesn't push my sugar intake over the edge.
Do your own research based on your body. But for me, Agave Nectar is unbeatable.
But Enough of the Science!
Yes! Let's get on to the cooking and the eating. I mean, that's why you're here, isn't it?
Now that we've talked about WHY vegan pancakes rule, why certain replacements are better/more flavorful than others... Let's talk about recipes!
There are dozens of great vegan pancake recipes online. Personally, I make a modified version this recipe:
First, Make the “Buttermilk”
First things first, you gotta mix the “milk” with the “butter” and the “egg”.
So, mix the almond milk and the Apple cider vinegar, stir it well, and let it sit.
Sounds weird, but trust me. This will work like a charm.
Mix It Up
In a big ol' mixing bowl, mix the dry stuff: flour, baking powder, and salt. Whisk it together for a more seemless combination. It will make for less clumping when you cook. Make those 'cakes even, you heathen!
Dry No More
Add the wet ingredients to the dry. The agave nectar, bananas, butter, and "buttermilk". But not the coconut oil. Save that for the pan!
Once you've combined everything, mix it all up. But this mixture can, and should, be clumpy. Over-mixing this part can make for some weird structural issues with your vegan pancakes. So let it look weird. Let weird be cool again.
Once you're done, put the mixture in a pourable container. This will make life SO MUCH easier when you're trying to make identical pancakes on the frying pan. Even if you're not into precision like me, it'll just make for less mess, less clean up, and easier transfer to the pan.
Bring It to the Skillet!
Put a dollop of coconut oil on a pan, melt it on medium heat. Coconut oil is a high heat oil, so it's great for this. And even better, the delicious flavor will only make the product that much better. I mean, a coconut and banana flavor combo in itself is unbeatable.
Pour the mixture from your measuring cup onto the hot skillet. I recommend only doing two at a time as you can make space for spreading. At this point, BE PATIENT. Cook until you start seeing bubbles rise up and pop at the top, creating little craters along the surface. Now, sprinkle cinnamon on the top and wait for the edges to look a little cooked.
Take a peek on the underside. If it's golden brown, flip those bad boys over. This side takes significantly less time to cook. About 30-60 seconds.
Stack Like Your Life Depends On It
Now you have a lovely batch of vegan pancakes packed with flavor but without all the baggage of dairy.
And they're gonna look just like the real thing. So what I need you to do next is act just like they are real.
That's right: Don't be shy with the vegan butter, the syrup (or nectar, or honey), and load it up with fresh fruit and chocolate chips if you're feeling particularly into yourself that day. Because foods like pancakes are about celebrating flavor and having fun with your meal.
And that's the other big secret: vegans care about flavor too. And these recipes, for my dollar, have more flavor, are more filling, and don't feel like fifteen pounds of flour in my stomach. No, these vegan pancakes are the real deal. And though I am no scientist, I am a dad.
And I wouldn't feed my kid anything less than the best.
That's exactly what these are. To me at least.
Now stop being afraid of the idea of eating vegan, and live a little!