Gluten-Free Multigrain Pancakes

Multigrain Pancakes, gluten-free and vegan

It’s not easy to be vegan and discuss weight gain.

Vegans, we are told unequivocally by all the experts in the field of plant-based nutrition, don’t gain weight. And if they do, it’s because they are doing something wrong. They are eating too much junk. Or they are eating too much. Period. It makes those among us who watch what we eat but also have to watch the scales feel very guilty. And very helpless.

My weight gain, although not drastic, was hard for me to accept because I had been thin all my life, until after I turned vegan. I was always an extremely skinny child — so skinny, in fact, that people would sometimes jokingly ask me, child, are they starving you at home? I was skinny all through my 20s and 30s, when I became a vegan. Yes, I did gain those five pounds every now and then but it was never hard for me to lose them.


In the beginning, the vegan diet seemed to work: I did not lose weight but I didn’t gain much either. And then, a couple of years into it, I began to realize that the scales were tipping upwards. And not coming down, even when I started to cut down on what I was eating.

It must be the carbs, Desi said, it’s hard to get protein on a vegan diet. After spending years arguing with him and in denial — and 25 pounds later — I finally faced up to the truth: my vegan diet was not helping me keep the weight off. If anything, it was making things worse.

Now before anyone gets the idea that I am going to discard my vegan diet, let me clarify that I am not. I am an ethical vegan. I don’t eat animals because I do not want to kill another living, sentient being for food and nothing will change that. I did not become a vegan because I wanted to lose weight or because I wanted to improve my health. And I will say that there is really nothing wrong with my health now. My blood pressure and cholesterol are great, and my weight gain is not so terrible that it would warrant desperate measures. For anyone looking to improve their health, a vegan diet  is still the best option. And for most people, it does work with weight loss too: although Desi is not always vegan when we eat out, which is rarely, he eats only vegan at home — the same healthy vegan food I eat– and never has to worry about weight gain. So yes, I acknowledge that metabolism and genes play a role in this too.

But not every vegan who is thin is eating healthy either. I know many, many vegans and for every vegan who eats a well-balanced diet and stays thin, there is the vegan who eats an unhealthy diet to stay thin. I have known a vegan who would eat just a steamed sweet potato for lunch every day, another whose lunch box held nothing but a few shreds of lettuce, and one who considered an apple her entire lunch. They were all thin. For me, a sweet potato is a great side-dish, an apple is a snack, and lettuce should be part of a salad. I would rather be fat than not eat a steaming bowl of bean soup or a serving of low-fat vegan pasta for lunch.

But I am determined to shake those pounds off and what I am trying to do is eat more cognizantly while still eating well. One of the first things I have realized is that I need to move away from soy. There are many arguments out there against soy and its effect on hormones, but many plant-based nutrition advocates refuse to acknowledge those and, if they are asked about it, they shrug them off. I never consumed much soy but I did add soy milk to my tea or coffee and at three to four cups a day it added up. I can’t stomach almond, rice, or coconut milk in my tea because of their strong flavors. I guess I’ll just have to do without, unless someone out there has a better idea. Giving up tofu will be easier simply because I didn’t eat too much of it–the only times I did were as a substitute for yogurt in Indian recipes or for quiches and breakfast foods, which was not often.

I am also trying to eat more gluten-free because it’s supposed to help with weight loss, although wheat is not something I intend to give up entirely. Many Indian breads are made with wheat, and gluten-free flours just don’t give you the right texture for a poori, say, or a chapati.There are many Indian dosas and some flatbreads that can be gluten-free and I will certainly be making more of those.

I am going to try and get more protein in my diet, and eat more leafies. Vegan nutrition experts say you need between 50 and 60 grams of protein (non-vegan nutritionists put this figure closer to 100). But getting even 50 grams of protein on a vegan diet is hard, unless you eat a ton of beans or soy– and then you get all the carbs that come with these foods. I do eat foods like quinoa fairly occasionally, but I am going to try to include this wonder grain in my diet much more to get high-quality protein and supplement it with high-quality, high-fiber beans.

I am also going to exercise more. In the past year or so, caught up in the demands of a new job, I have been neglecting my workouts and although that has not really aggravated my weight gain, it certainly hasn’t helped.

So there it is: my story about weight gain on a vegan diet. I am determined to do something about it while staying vegan because I can’t imagine any other way to be. Hopefully, as the days go by, I will share with you my successes — and perhaps my failures. But you can expect from me an honest account of what works and what doesn’t. It’s time to cut through the lies out there, however well-intentioned they may be.

***

Multigrain Pancakes, gluten-free and vegan

You might not have expected a pancake recipe right after a post about weight gain, but I made these last weekend for Desi who has jumped on the gluten-free wagon faster than I have. And they are healthy, especially if you can limit the amount of syrup you pour on.

While making gluten-free foods, I have learned fast to steer away from the pre-mixed “all-purpose” gluten flours. These flours tend to have too strong a flavor and I prefer mixing my own flours to keep the taste as clean as possible. For pancakes and waffles, the premixed flours also tend not to work because they have too much starch, like tapioca flour or potato flour, and they often contain xanthan gum. These ingredients make the pancakes and waffles rather gummy.

This pancake recipe is extremely versatile. Use your own mix of flours: I used brown rice, millet and oat. I also mixed in some almond milk. They were light and fluffy and quite perfect.

Here’s the recipe, all. Enjoy!

Multigrain Pancakes, gluten-free and vegan
Gluten-Free Multigrain Pancakes
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Gluten-Free Multigrain Pancakes made with healthy, wholegrain flours and without any gums and starches
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: American, gluten-free, vegan
Serves: Makes 10 pancakes
Ingredients
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup millet flour
  • ½ cup oat flour (oat flour is sometimes contaminated with gluten while processing, so be sure to buy one that is labeled gluten-free)
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • Salt to taste
  • 1½ cups almond milk mixed with 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 heaping tbsp flax meal mixed with 9 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, mix the flours with the baking powder and soda and salt using a wisk.
  2. In another bowl mix the almond milk with the flaxmeal mixture and vanilla.
  3. Add the wet mixture to the dry one, and mix well. Don't worry about overmixing, because gluten-free flours do not toughen up the way wheat does when mixed.
  4. Heat a griddle and spray with a little oil. Pour about ¼ cup of batter on the griddle and let the pancake cook until bubbles appear around the sides and center, then flip and cook until the underside turns golden.
  5. Serve hot.
Multigrain Pancakes, gluten-free and vegan
(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

Comments

  1. says

    Hi Vaishali. These look great. I will try over the weekend. Thanks a ton for all the recipes. I have recently turned vegan and I check your blog frequently for baking inspirations. You make veganism sound easy. For the chai, I was using soy milk too, I have recently switched to coconut creamer by So Delicious. Also adding tea masala and fresh ginger really adds to the flavor and its the closest to getting the authentic taste. Millet & sorghum are heavy for digestion, except in winter. So you might want to consider that if you are considering gluten-free.
    Have you tried hemp seeds..that has a lot of protein. You can add to your smoothies. I also juice the leafy greens each morning..2 handful kale, spinach etc. Hope that helps.

    • says

      Krupa, thanks for your lovely message and the great tips. I did not realize that about millet and sorghum, so it’s really good to know. And I did not know there was a So Delicious creamer with coconut milk– that’s a great idea and I will be looking for it on my next trip to the grocer’s.
      I do drink a fruit and veggie smoothie each morning with some greens in it, but I just don’t find the time to cook greens every day for our meals which is something I need to work on.
      Agreed on the hemp seeds– I have been eyeing a powder on Amazon that could go into my morning smoothie.

  2. says

    Looks very perfect & yummy.. I was always under the impression that turning vegan wud guarantee curbing the unwanted weight gain !! First time hearing otherwise.. Loved reading ur post.. Very informative & tempts me to turn vegan !!

    • says

      Hi Chitz, vegan foods are naturally healthy so it helps curb and control weight gain to some extent, but it’s not a silver bullet. Vegans still are overall healthier and perhaps weigh less than the average population, but we are certainly not immune to weight gain.

  3. says

    This post is so at the right time Vaishali.. After 2 years of being underweight for mixed up reasons, i am finally now tipping the scales in the normal range, but started looking chubby. And I was wondering what the heck was going on since i eat almost the same food, infact healthier and more variety than what i was eating 2 years back. pfft.. My diet is almost no soy with a bit of tempeh once a week. I am not sure about a gf diet because most gf baking needs so much added starch. Cant imagine that helping the weight. I am cutting down on the nuts mostly and eating more of the beans, veggies on the plate and little less rotis/dosas/etc. We women though are unique creatures and things that work for one doesnt work for the other. Dont even get me started about how awesome my husband looks whatever he eats on his 2 yr vegan diet.
    Those pancakes look perfect!

    • says

      Thanks, Richa. A lot of us – and I am guilty of this too- believe we have to spread the idea that vegans are thinner because it gets more people to jump on the wagon. And while it may be true for many, it is not so for everyone. This is why I also strongly believe that it is important to be an ethical vegan rather than be motivated by the health aspect, because the latter doesn’t always hold up at least with weight loss.
      And yes, what is it with those men and their super-efficient metabolisms? :)

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi!

    I am a big fan of your blog, and I have also struggled with my weight. It’s better now, but I feel really stupid sometimes because I’m a vegan and don’t look very skinny. It is EASY to gain when you are vegan! (One reason might be all the good food blogs ;) )

    Anyway, what I wanted to say, is that it really isn’t that hard to eat 50 grams of protein. I plottet most of what I ate today into cron-o-meter.com, and it was basically oat meal, fruit, whole grain bread and pasta, nuts, tomatoes and other vegetables, and some peanut butter. Normal intake of food (at least 1600 calories), and 56 grams of protein. Without trying. No legumes (except for the peanut butter, and no soy.

    Now I want some pancakes!

    • says

      Hi Anonymous, thanks for being supportive. Carbs actually don’t work for me–they cause me to gain weight– but I appreciate the cron-o-meter tip. I have to check that out!

  5. Anonymous says

    Oh, but I had a lot of carbs, of course. I’ve found out that carbs work well for me, but you wanted to have less. Anyway, I still love your blog.

  6. says

    So glad I’m not the only one who feels fat. I’m also thankful that you’re not going to do something crazy like start eating eggs & chicken and drinking milk “for the protein.” I know that if I just get off my butt and exercise more and cut out all the delicious vegan cookies and snacks during the week, that should be a huge help in reaching a more desirable weight. In the meantime, your hot cakes look so yummy with the different flours. I’ll have to make it real soon. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Anonymous says

    What a wonderful recipe, and I know so many people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity will appreciate these recipes (like me)! So Delicious Coconut Milk and Coconut Creamers have carageenan in them. I urge everyone to read up on concerns about this ingredient, which shows up in many natural, organic foods as an additive. For example, Dr Weil has written about his concerns about carageenan. I have found that homemade almond milk has such a light and sweet taste, and it is easy to make at home. The almond milk from the store has a flavor that is too strong, I think. Coconut Butter or Coconut Manna added to tea and whisked or frothed is divine. I am constantly trying different milk alternatives in tea because I love tea so much!
    Best of health to you, and best wishes and thank you for all you do! xo
    Jana

    • says

      Jana, thanks for all the great tips! I have made almond milk at home but never tried it in tea. That’s a good idea. Will read up on carageenan.

  8. says

    Vaishali, thanks for posting this. First, the recipe looks great! And second, I am going through the SAME thing. I know, like Karen above, that I need to cut out the crap and exercise. I also need to eat more raw vegetables. Anyway, looking forward to reading more from you about this!

    ~ Ivy

    • says

      Thanks, Ivy. I think there are more of us in this boat than we know, and it’s good to hear from people who are going through the same dilemma.

  9. says

    I had a very similar experience going vegan and slowly gaining weight even with a healthy diet. I was even tracking my calories, and I am an avid, consistent exerciser! I am always happy to see people talk about both the challenges and successes. It can be really isolating to be a vegan who gains weight, as you point out, so thanks for talking about it.

  10. says

    I was forced to take a look at my diet when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes a couple of years ago. I “ate like a diabetic”, mixing carbs, fats and protein in every meal and snack, keeping portion sizes moderate, and (most importantly), exercising after EVERY meal. By taking a 10-15 minute brisk walk, that’s all. Just these fairly small changes and I was amazed at how quickly I lost the excess fat and how well my blood sugar was controlled.

    In my case, I KNOW that I eat too much, just out of habit and because something tastes good, and I KNOW I don’t exercise enough. Bad habits die hard :)

    For what it’s worth, my personal take on wheat and soy is that like all other foods, they’re just fine in moderation for those of us who don’t have true allergies to them.

  11. says

    Hi Nupur, thanks for sharing your story and I love that tip about exercising after every meal– I must confess that many are the days when I gobble down dinner and plunk into a couch to watch some TV before bed.
    I agree that moderation is the best approach and I felt that way about soy too, but over time I have changed my mind because of the effect soy can have on your hormones and also on sluggish thyroids, like mine. I certainly can’t imagine life without wheat.

  12. Anonymous says

    What a surprise to read your post Vaishali – I have been Vegan for about 7 months, and initially lost some weight, but have sat at the same for months now – way overweight but cannot shift it. I too am an ethical Vegan so going back to lacto/ovo is not an option. I’m glad to read I am not alone, because I always felt uncomfortable telling people I am Vegan for the simple fact that I am sure they look at my weight and wonder what the heck I must be eating! Thanks for being so honest. I think we all just eat too much food and not exercise enough, plain and simple. Must get myself in hand. Regards, MAB (Australia)

    • says

      Thanks for your candor too, MAB. As a vegan, and as someone who worked in a largely vegan workplace full of ultra-thin people, I would often find myself feeling bad about my weight gain. But like I said in the post, many of these vegans had terrible eating habits– some were practically starving themselves. I’d rather enjoy my food and be a little overweight– and healthy.

  13. says

    Hi Vaishali,

    I forgot to mention, I have the same weight loss problem. I have always being a vegetarian. Being a vegan since two months. I lost weight initially, but now I either maintain or gain. I workout religiously..morning HIIT and evening around one hour cardio. I track my calories in MyFitnessPal and weight watchers ( phew!!) and I do not eat and junk food. My soy intake is restricted to only 1/3 cup a day for my tea. Tofu once a week. Probiotics everyday, healthy oils, all green veggie juice. I wonder if I stop doing workouts and don’t watch what I eat, how much heavier will I get :-/
    It’s frustrating but I wish there was an answer. If you have any success please do share.

  14. Anonymous says

    Love your blog. Its one of the most dependable blogs for recipes on the internet. Thanks.
    Just wanted to share an experience with you.I have type 1 diabetes which is an autoimmune disorder and I always struggle with the right mix of carbs and protein to balance my sugars. I am like Desi…a vegan at home.. A few months ago I decided to reduce grains in my diet and in the evenings ate baked tofu with a salad every alternate day. And i was buying the best and the most expensive tofu from a specific farmers market. Within 15 days i started noticing my tummy swell up and one night my abdomen hurt so bad my husband had to rush me to the ER. Thats where we realized I had 2 ovarian cysts one of which burst along with an uterine lining of a 4 month pregnant woman !!! I had a tough tough time dealing with the pain and the healing. My endocrinologist on my next visit asked me…”what was it that must ve increased your estrogen as much ?” .. Thats when it all came together for me. It was the tofu that i had suddenly started eating. I am soy free right now and i intend to do my best to stay that way.

    • says

      Wow, that’s a scary story! Your experience sounds rare, but it is not hard to imagine that most of us suffer some ill effects from excessive soy intake.
      I’ve always been an avid label-reader, but after giving up soy it’s been a bit of a surprise to find how many foods it’s hidden in.
      Thanks for sharing your story with us, and for your kind words about the blog. I am happy you’ve enjoyed it.

    • says

      That’s scary indeed. I never knew soy could be that dangerous. I guess that’s another ingredient to watch for when reading the labels. Doing the right / ethical thing is never easy I guess. :)

    • says

      Vaishali, you might already know this, but thought of sending it anyways. There’s a veg/vegan fest in Baltimore this weekend. I am excited about it, have being waiting for a while.
      Here are the details : http://www.thehumaneleague.com/BaltimoreVegFest/
      If you can spread the word to your readers, that will be great. Might be beneficial to someone like me who is new to veganism.

    • says

      Krupa, nice to know. Didn’t know you were in our area– love Baltimore with all my heart! And one of my favorite writers — Poe– is buried there.

    • says

      Almost in your area. I am in Philadelphia actually and a big time foodie. I missed the Philly food fest so looking forward to the Baltimore one. Two hours drive but I am sure it’s worth it. Hopefully see you there.

  15. says

    Thank you for sharing that story, and awesome looking pancakes.
    I have found that Oat milk works wonders in both coffee and tea. I buy the organic plain one.
    Healthy is the goal, the body shape is mostly pre-destined.

  16. says

    Thank You for your honesty!!!! I am dealing with the same issues and just recently added more greens to my diet.
    Oh yea and the exercise is the big one for me too! I use to walk my dog for 30-45min, now he is older and can only go
    for 15-20. I feel much less bloated when I am off gluten, there is a great website, glutengoddess.com, she has great
    quinoa recipes!! Thanks again for your great website!

    • says

      I haven’t tried oat milk, but I believe it’s a good option. It would be rather thin for my taste.
      I did try the So Delicious coconut creamer for my coffee at Krupa’s suggestion, and I love it! It has no coconutty flavor, which I wouldn’t want in my tea or coffee, and it is only 10 calories per tbsp which is great.

  17. says

    Hi Vishali, Am a lurker for over 2 years now. Love your american take on Indian recipes. I just started milk alternatives. Almond milk tastes horrible in hot beverages. But in a cold coffee, tastes decadent. Mix coffee granules in 2 tbs hot water with the sweetener of choice (helps dissolve the granules better). Then in a blender , add cold almond milk and coffee. If your are in the mood, add a drop of vanilla and some caramel for a yummmmy cold coffee.

  18. says

    I am currently on a diet- have been for 7 months. I’ve been a bad vegetarian for 15 years, eating mainly pastas and baked goods and eating A LOT. So I put on a lot of weight. Now I’m being a good vegetarian who doesn’t eat eggs or milk (still eat some cheese) so I’m embracing the vegan recipes. You CAN lose the weight. I just count my calories (I use an app for that, which gives me a daily breakdown of what I’ve consumed in calories, fat grams, carbs, protein, sugar, etc) and I exercise. It’s very slow- just 1 kilo a month- but I’m maintaining my almost-vegan life style and in fact, eating better than ever. Here’s the truth: the older we get, the less it seems we can eat, and this has nothing to do with being a vegan or not. Exercise is a great way to burn some of this off while allowing yourself to eat a little more. If you don’t like feeling like you have to track your food every day, just do it for a week or so to get an idea of what needs changing. good luck :)

  19. says

    I’m not a vegan…but can I just say these pancakes were DELICIOUS!!!!!!! I mean seriously, where have these pancakes been all my life??? I came across your blog after 2 things happened. 1. I had these delicious pancakes at IHOP that were whole grain with walnuts mixed into the batter with a blueberry compote on top. I have a friend who is vegan and gluten-free and he was really interested in the pancakes I had eaten but knew they definitely weren’t vegan or gluten-free. I did a google search and this came up. I made some minor tweaks to the recipe but overall kept it the same. I added 1/8 cup of brown sugar–which he said he approved (I know there’s a debate over this) and 1/2-3/4 cup (I sort of eye-balled it) of walnuts. They were HEAVEN!!! I think this batter (with some tweaking) would make an excellent vegan/gluten-free whole grain and blueberry muffin too! I think I’ll try that next :)

    Thanks for the recipe!!

  20. says

    Vaishali, am surits not easy to discuss weight issue on youtr blog, esp when people can easily jump to conclusions and blame your chosen diet preference for it! But you are right, people need to know the truth and share food experiences. The same thing doesnt work for everyone… So am sure with some trial and error you will figure out whats best for you soon! :)
    The pancakes look fantastic! I have often made pancakes with a mix of wheat flour (aata) and maize flour (makai ka atta), and with jaggery instead of sugar. the final result has never disappointed me :)

  21. says

    Hi not sure if ive missed something but this recipe includes oat flour which has gluten? Its really important that u dont say its gluten free if u include oat flour as oats have gluten – am researching for adhd boy & this would have bad results if parents dont realise plus coeliacs so tag should be removed to be safe. Cheers alison

  22. says

    Alison, oats do not have gluten. Some oat flours can be contaminated with gluten while processing, but you can find oat flour that is specifically marked gluten-free. I have mentioned this before in other recipes, but to clarify I will add an explanation to this one too.

  23. CarbTFU says

    Thanks for the recipe.

    However…
    Please consider that carbohydrates don’t make you fat, but rather it is FAT that makes you fat. Could it be that the fat you eat is the fat you wear? Ever see a long term “high- carb” vegan?

  24. Anusha says

    Hi,

    I have a ton of rye flour to be used up. Will it work in this recipe along with brown rice flour and finger millet flour ?

    Thanks,
    Anusha

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