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Healthy Comfort Food

Comfort food was definitely going to be on our table one night last week, when I was in a bit of a funk. These easy Gluten-Free Vegan Pancakes were calling my name!

Truth be told, I was in a funk after meeting my 93-year-old mother at the emergency room because she had gashed a leg during a fall. I dreaded being in a hospital ER during the Covid-19 outbreak here in North Carolina, but no way was I going to let her be in that situation alone. So, I went, wearing a mask and repeating my mantra. Ten days later, her leg is mending well and, happily, I’m still symptom free. I count both of us as among the lucky ones that day.

These are certainly perilous time we are living in. No one is immune from the cascading impact of Covid-19, and this is a time for us to be kind to ourselves. I am not suggesting that we stuff our feelings with comfort food. Not at all. I am, however, acknowledging that, besides providing sustenance, food brings us comfort. And, I’m using this recipe today to demonstrate at least one way to succumb to your comfort food cravings deliciously—without undermining your precious health.

About the Recipe

As much as comfort was my mission after being in the ER, my intention was to make a sweet breakfast-style pancake that was more than a stack of carbohydrates! I wanted to be sure that I had some protein with my carbs, which can take creativity with a vegan dish. So, I started this recipe by grinding split mung dal (which is high in protein) into flour. (You can also buy split mung flour in Asian grocery stores and online.)

I coupled the split mung flour with naturally sweet and protein-rich tiger nut flour, then added a small amount of protein powder and flaxseed meal. The result was a meal that was not only gluten free but also guilt free!

For the uninitiated, split mung dal is type of legume often referred to as lentil—though to be precise, it is classified as a “gram,” along with whole green mung beans, black gram, and adzuki beans. A 100-gram serving of split mung flour (not quite a cup) contains 24 grams of protein. Compare that to the typical gluten-free pancake mix, which has about 7 grams of protein to a cup.

Tiger Nuts are actually tubers, not nuts, so rest easy if you have a nut allergy. These root vegetables get their name from black stripes on their skins. They are high in fiber, protein, and iron, among other phytonutrients. Most notably, tiger nut flour is a resistant starch that “promotes prebiotic growth and supports a healthy immune and digestive track. It can also lower blood glucose levels and improves insulin sensitivity,” according to

What I love most about this recipe is that the protein and fiber in these flours create a perfectly fluffy pancake that cooks through well without eggs—which is not always the case with gluten-free and vegan pancakes.

Alternatively, you could make these pancakes with chickpea flour (21 grams of protein per cup), but I prefer the more neutral taste of split mung. Or you can substitute the split mung flour with oat flour (21 grams of protein per cup).

Keeping Our Perspective

In closing, I’d like to make a comment about keeping our perspective in difficult times. Today I’m feeling well, and I’m grateful for this—I’m grateful for every day I wake up free of fear. I recognize how very fortunate I am to have a refrigerator and cupboard filled with food. I count my blessings every day that I’m able to cook food that is both delicious and healthy. Won’t you join me?

Let’s use this extra time on our hands to connect more deeply with our families, to reach out to friends, and to take a little extra time to nurture ourselves with quietude. Let’s also embrace this time to cook wonderful dishes from scratch, using fresh ingredients—without being distracted or in a rush. Let’s recognize that cooking for our families is a sacred form of loving service, and serve up love with every meal!




Preparation Time: About 30 minutes plus resting and cooking time
Makes about 14 pancakes, using ¼ cup batter foreach

2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup mung or oat flour
¾ cup tiger nut flour
¼ cup protein powder
¾ teaspoon mineral salt
1 teaspoon coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
¼ cup sunflower oil or melted coconut oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1¾ cups almond milk (fresh, if available)
½ to 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Cook’s Tip: 1. We use Thorne’s vanilla flavored Vega-Lite, a vegan friendly pea and rice protein powder.  2. If you’re experimenting with different flour than I recommend, your recipe may require a different amount of liquid. 3. You can make these with fresh blueberries by stirring 1 cup of blueberries into the batter just before cooking. Or, you can add 1 tablespoon on top of each poured pancake.

1. Combine the flaxseed meal with 6 tablespoons water in a small dish, and set aside.

2. Combine flours, protein powder, salt, sugar, baking powder, and preferred spice. Mix well with a whisk. Add the oil, vanilla, and flaxseed mixture to the dry ingredients, and stir. Add 1½ cups of the almond milk. Stir once again. Mix in the nuts, if using. If the batter is too thick to pour, add the additional milk now. Let the batter rest for 15 to 30 minutes. After resting, check the batter’s texture? If it’s still too thick, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of milk.

3. Heat a nonstick griddle or cast-iron pan on medium heat for about 10 minutes. When the pan is hot, grease it with 2 teaspoons of oil, and pour the batter in rounds of a quarter-cup or larger. Let the pancakes cook for 5 minutes on the first side, until bubbles start to form and the pancake is well browned on the bottom; then flip and brown on the second side for 4 to 5 minutes, until the pancakes are cooked through. Before you cook each batch, check the consistency of the batter, and stir in another tablespoon of almond milk if it’s getting too thick. As the pan gets hotter, the pancakes will cook in about 3 minutes on each side.

4. Serve immediately with pure warmed maple syrup, or keep in a warm oven until everyone can be served.

Once the pancakes are cooked and cooling, top them with honey instead of maple syrup.

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