McDougall’s Fluffy Pancakes

by on June 26, 2012
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The McDougalls' Fluffy Pancakes

Dr. John McDougall is one of my personal heroes. After I became a vegetarian in 1988, I dabbled in veganism off and on, trying to cut out dairy and eggs but never having lasting success. When I read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America, I became convinced that my cheese- and egg-heavy diet was hurting cows and chickens, but until I actually tried Dr. McDougall’s low-fat vegan diet, I didn’t realize that the way I had been eating was hurting me as well.

You’d think I would have guessed. After all, I’d become a vegetarian with the vague notion that I might lose some of the extra weight I’d been carrying around all my adult life, but after 6 years, I was heavier than ever. I really wanted to be a vegan, but, at a time when I couldn’t even buy soymilk locally, I didn’t know how. Then I discovered the internet (and it really was a discovery back then) where I found Dr. McDougall’s recipes and diet plan. I gave his program a try and never felt better; the energy and vitality I’d been missing came back and I was able to burn off the excess pounds.

Polenta with Black Beans and Mango Salsa from The Starch Solution

Polenta with Black Beans and Mango Salsa from The Starch Solution

So I am forever indebted to Dr. McDougall. If I’d never found his program, I’m certain that now, in my 50′s, I’d be suffering from diabetes or heart disease or any number of lifestyle-related diseases; though my weight has crept up and down over the years, I’ve managed to keep my cholesterol and blood sugar numbers low thanks to the lessons I learned first from Dr. McDougall. So I’d like to pay him back, just a little, by introducing you to his and his wife Mary’s latest book, The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!

The Starch Solution is different from any other “diet” book I know of because rather than vilify starches, Dr. McDougall praises them and says that “starches are not only healthy, they’re comforting and filling.” He recommends that the bulk of your calories come from grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables. Like Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live, he eliminates added oils, but unlike Dr. Fuhrman (who limits starches), he also recommends cutting out high-fat whole foods such as nuts, seeds, coconut, and avocado while you are trying to lose weight. He cites a study showing that an ounce of nuts a day does not lead to weight gain but asks, “How likely are you to stop at one small handful?” (Looks like Dr. McDougall knows me well!)

Chocolate Brownies and Banana Ice Cream from The Starch Solution

Chocolate Brownies and Banana Ice Cream from The Starch Solution

The Starch Solution is not really a cookbook. Though it contains almost 100 of Mary McDougall’s healthy and delicious recipes, the recipe section is less than a third of the book. The majority of its pages are devoted to a thorough explanation of why Dr. McDougall believes in a starch-centered diet and to the success stories of many “Star McDougallers;” end-notes provide references for every point he makes. If you have a question about soy, the glycemic index, salt, sugar, or fat, Dr. McDougall’s answer is there, with scientific studies to back it up.

Because there was no room in the book for photos, the McDougalls contacted me after it was published and hired me to take publicity pictures of 6 of the dishes in the book. I was happy to have a chance to test the recipes, which, I have to tell you, were as flavorful and filling as they look in the photos. If you have a copy of the book, do try the recipes pictured on this page (the brownies and sugar-free ice cream were a big hit with my sugar-loving daughter and niece), as well as the Moroccan Red Lentil Soup, another big hit with my family. And if you don’t have the book, take a look at the McDougall website, where many of the recipes can be found in the newsletter archives. The McDougalls win high marks in my book for always offering the details of the diet plan as well as thousands of recipes online, for free.

One last word: If you’re having trouble following Eat to Live or any other diet that restricts starches, give The Starch Solution a try. I’m a firm believer that, when it comes to weight loss, there’s no “one diet fits all,” and you may find that increasing the amount of starch you eat actually helps you stick with it. One thing’s for sure, the recipes are winners! My family loved these banana-infused pancakes, which contain no added sugar. I loaded them up with fresh blueberries and raspberries for a fresh and festive breakfast that we all enjoyed.

The McDougalls' Fluffy Pancakes

(Full disclosure: Though I was hired to take publicity photos of recipes from this book, I was not asked to write this post or compensated for doing so. This post does, however, contain Amazon affiliate links. When you buy something through them, I receive a tiny commission. Thank you for supporting this site!)

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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna Down Under June 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I’ve just started reading the book, but I can tell you that when I focus on starches, I am satisfied, my blood sugar remains stable, and I do NOT get cravings or even get hungry between meals! For me, his plan is JUST what I needed and I’m steadily losing weight. Not FAST, but steady, a bit every week. That’s fine with me. :)


2 Somer June 26, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I need this book! I love Fuhrman’s Eat to Live, but do struggle with eating such a low starch diet, mentally and physically! Thanks for the recipe too. Those pancakes look amazing!


3 Angela W June 26, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Susan — Thanks so much for this post. I think the McDougalls are the key to resolving America’s healthcare crisis. I follow McDougall’s recommendations for diet and am always amazed at how much energy I have while being completely satisfied in my eating. I would testify before Congress (or anyone else) about how awesome this diet is! :-)

The recipes featured in The Starch Solution are easy to make and delicious. I have made about 20 of the recipes so far. Without exception, they have all been delicious. My favorite recipe “surprise” is “Spicy Lima Beans and Cabbage”. That stuff is ridiculously delicious.

I also have to tell you that one big reason I have been able to successfully maintain my diet is because of your Blog.

Great job! And A Big Thank You!!


4 Jeannie June 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I’ve been a fan of Dr. McDougall for over two years now and love all of Mary’s recipes. This new book is the bomb! I totally love eating this way and your blog has surely helped as well!
Thank you both for lots of wonderful flavorful recipes!


5 Kim June 26, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I LOVE THE STARCH SOLUTION! I found it to be truly emancipating. I consume a veggie-heavy green smoothie for breakfast, then stick to starches pretty much the rest of the day. In the 50 days I have been doing this, I have lost 25 pounds. Totally satisfied, energetic & HAPPY.


6 Marty June 26, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Too bad they aren’t gluten-free.


7 Susan Voisin June 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm

Just substitute your favorite gluten-free baking mix for the flour.


8 Ninufar June 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

I hope someone will post back if they try this…

GF pancakes is the only time I find that garbanzo bean flour really works for me, I soak it in the water for 2 hrs beforehand though… If you search for ‘xgfx pancake’ you’ll find an easy alternate recipe.


9 Caroline June 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm

I’m also really loving the Starch Solution and have been eating on his plan for the last two weeks. I’ve lost 4 lbs. so far with absolutely no cravings. When I did the Fuhrman plan I was constantly craving starches and ended up binging on bread and cookies. I haven’t tried any of Mary’s recipes yet but, Susan, if you say they are good then I will definitely try them. I also want to point out that he doesn’t completely eliminate high fat plant foods. In the Starch Solution he advises you to use them sparingly depending on your health goals. In fact Mary has several recipes with tofu and nuts in the book.


10 Bailey June 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I must say I’m skeptical about any diet cutting out avocado and coconut. Coconut oil is supposed to be one of the best things you can do for your, well, everything.


11 conz June 27, 2012 at 2:50 am

oil is fat. Common sense should tell you that fat people need less fat.


12 Bailey June 27, 2012 at 8:12 am

That’s like saying losing weight is as simple as calories in, calories out without taking into the consideration the quality of what it is you’re eating. There are different kinds of fats that do different things. Some are harmful, some are helpful. But thanks for your alluding to me not having common sense.


13 Heidi June 27, 2012 at 10:42 am

I agree! There are so many studies to show that fats are healthy for you. Many nutrients in vegetables (like Vitamin A) are fat-soluble, so they are necessary to get the most out of your veggies. As with most things fats are good in moderation. A very low fat or fat free diet isn’t healthy and won’t do much for your waistline either. Be responsible. As long as you aren’t drowning your salads in dressing and selecting healthy fats, like avocado and nuts, they can be a very good component of a well-rounded diet.


14 Rachael January 3, 2013 at 2:34 am

Heidi: Very foolish banter and equally as foolish vague advice from you, dear.
There most certainly are NOT “so many studies” to show that “fats are healthy for you”. There are, however, MANY studies to show that the OPPOSITE is true.
1. Cancer
2. Pancreatitis
3. Diabetes
4. Weight Gain
5. Arthritis
6. Fatty Liver
to name a few . . .

15 mary June 27, 2012 at 5:27 am

The benefits of oil is marketing hype. You may find this article helpful


16 Bailey June 27, 2012 at 9:17 am

Ahh there’s so much propaganda I don’t know what to believe. I will definitely check this link out… thank you.


17 Chile June 27, 2012 at 6:27 am

The popularity of coconut oil is the result of a very successful marketing campaign. Here’s Dr. McDougall’s take on its supposed health benefits.


18 Bailey June 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

Thanks for link. I will definitely check it out.


19 wendy (healthy girls kitchen) June 30, 2012 at 6:00 am

Bailey-You are not alone! We are all assalted with nutritional claims daily and it’s really hard to figure out truth from fiction.


20 Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy June 26, 2012 at 8:14 pm

how delicious! those pancakes look wonderful — as does the polenta! sounds like a great book!


21 Lisa @ The Raw Serenity June 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm

This book looks great!
I would love to read it.
Such a great opportunity for you to take the photos of his recipes. You do take amazing Images.
Thanks for sharing this recipe and giving us an insight on the book.


22 Karen June 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm

This recipe looks fantastic! I am also loving the starch solution and trying it after missing my starches. Thanks for the helpful post!


23 Catie June 26, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I just re-discovered McDougall after struggling to follow Eat to Live for a long time. I remember seeing/reading his 12-day program book many, many years ago, and thinking, what? NO meat? NO cheese? NO way! Then I cut out meat 3 years ago after reading “Skinny Bitch.” Like other comments, I found Dr Furman’s program rather starch-light for me. I am grateful to really feel this path feels right to me now. Isn’t life’s journey funny and amazing? Thank you Susan for your amazing site. I have valued it for years. Blessings to you and your family.


24 Christina Chapman June 26, 2012 at 11:28 pm

I made these pancakes this morning. Took me 22 minutes to get the first ones on the griddle. But, my husband, the guinea pig, loved them.
I made extras for snacking.


25 Dennis June 27, 2012 at 7:43 am

These sound awesome. Can you substitute almond milk for the soy or rice milk?


26 Susan Voisin June 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

I’m sure almond milk will be fine.


27 moonwatcher June 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

HI Susan,

Great post about the Starch Solution, which I just finished reading. Dr. McDougall is one of my personal heroes, too. His recommendations about starch help me quite a bit, even though I have to do them gluten free, and mostly whole. There’s room for that in his plan, and I have heard him stress that for auto-immune issues many folks have to leave out gluten, and sometimes soy. And really try to stick to whole grains the most.

The photos are amazing! And a nice side note: your background color for the blog really is lovely. It goes so well with whatever photos you take. And is soothing o the eyes. Nice choice.




28 Heidi June 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

I’m so glad I saw your post today! I just read an article in USA Today yesterday ( about a study finding that low-carb was the best way to diet. It’s nice to read an alternative perspective.


29 Amanda June 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

These look so good. I have been on a quest for a good vegan pancake for 6 months now! Who knew the sparkling water would be the ticket! And like Somer, I love the concept of Eat to Live, but I too have struggled with starch reduction, especially now that I’m nursing and feel hungry all the time!


30 Lance June 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm

Great post! Your pictures are fantastic! I loved the book as well, and think it is his best explanation of a healthy diet yet. I personally follow the starch based program, while utilizing Fuhrman’s ideas and research on nutrient density. But I could never give up potatoes!


31 sandy June 28, 2012 at 6:18 am

I have read so many reviews of the starch solution but something in this one just made me go “that’s it” and actually buy it!
I’m so excited because, yep – I can’t stop at one handful of nuts either & I can do the Eat to Live program perfectly well…… for a week & then I end up binging on starch anyway!
I look forward to reading this book & putting a new action plan in place – Thank you for posting this sooo much :-)


32 Lea June 28, 2012 at 7:36 am

I could never support this man. The way he talks about fat vegans is so vile and rude and WRONG:

Thanks for saying overweight vegans are bad for the animals. Seriously?! I got fat thanks to Hashimoto’s, but apparently that means I am not a good vegan.


33 Almiel June 28, 2012 at 10:27 am

I read the article and don’t read into it what you see. He’s saying that just because you’re vegan it doesn’t mean you’re healthy. That’s it. I’m sorry about the Hashimoto’s. That’s gotta be tough. I don’t think he’s talking to those rare individuals who truly have a physical issue (like yours) that gets in the way of weight loss.

I myself struggled after having breast cancer at age 29 (now 42). (I was raised on tons of dairy growing up and had a heavy period. I believe my elevated estrogen level, with the dairy exacerbating it, caused it.) The steroids while doing chemotherapy caused weight gain even though I didn’t have much of an appetite. I’m only just now getting back down to what I weighed before I was diagnosed.

I truly wish you wellness despite what you’re struggling with. :)


34 wendy hatchett June 29, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi, Susan! This comment is about your blog in general. Thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart, for this site! My husband and I just adopted a fat-free, plant-based diet a month ago after watching Forks Over Knives. (I paused the movie part way through, got the trash can and started the kitchen purge–”life food” stays; “death food” goes!) We both have unhealthy, overweight bodies and it hit us right between the eyes. Your site makes it so easy to make this change. I have lost ten pounds in just the first month and haven’t had a single craving (not even for chocolate!). We eat beautiful, delicious “life” food now. You provide a great service by this site. And your photography is wonderful–it sure helps to see the dishes prepared. God bless you!


35 wendy (healthy girls kitchen) June 30, 2012 at 6:04 am

If there was a way to “like” a comment over here, I would have pressed the “like” button! What a great, inspiring story! I have a big smile on my face now.


36 Cheytan Wood July 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm

do you follow dr mcdougalls diet I want to lose weight but I don’t want to be so strict and not lose weight what are your thoughts?


37 Cheytan Wood July 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm

oh when I say strict I mean low fruit and sugar I can eat like 40 medjool dates in a sitting! I don’t eat fat I have colitis and giving up all fats really helped but I love sweets!


38 Vegetarians July 1, 2012 at 10:00 pm

It’s really great that she added a few new flavor ingredients and also made them lighter. Those pancakes are absolutely delicious!


39 annie July 2, 2012 at 9:36 am

Would there be any possible substitute for the bananas? Perhaps apple sauce? I don’t mind eating bananas by themselves, but I really dislike banana flavored things (and I find they have a very strong flavor when baked or cooked into things). The sparkling water to make them fluffy is genius:)


40 Kris July 2, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Like you I have such admiration and respect for Dr. McDougall and his wife, Mary. They were the first to change my perspective about health and weight loss, followed by Dr. Barnard, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman, Dr. Klaper, Dr. Greger, Doug Lisle and Dr. Greger among others. We are so, so fortunate to have access to such incredible support for living a healthful and loving lifestyle.

The pancakes sound really yummy. I’ve made similar pancakes – but put vinegar in with nut milk to make it sour a bit then mixed the liquid in with baking soda – which achieved the same foamy, fluffifying effect.

Thanks so much for your ever amazing and helpful blog, Susan. Your food and photos are simply fabulous. Those carrot cake bars look like they want to celebrate at my family 4th of July!


41 Jenny August 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

That’s so wonderful!!! I LOVE the McDougall’s work. I think it’s just wonderful to see that you have taken photos of the recipes and posted them here. The Starch book was really a great read. I, too, highly recommend it.That and the Engine 2 Diet :) Aside from all that, Dr. M is truly a nice man.


42 Diana September 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm

My kids and I are allergic to bananas….and a lot of other fruit as well….but do you think you could substitute zucchini? Any other thoughts on what to substitute with? I make a vegan pancake that is awesome, but probably pretty full of fat…6 tbsp of oil in the batter.


43 Susan Voisin September 3, 2012 at 3:08 pm

I don’t think zucchini has the right consistency. Why don’t you try one of my other pancake recipes? None of them contain bananas:


44 Kelsey J November 17, 2012 at 9:21 pm

Wow, these look great. I will try out the recipe using chickpea flour instead of wheat (I’m gluten intolerant). I often make wheat-free versions of McDougall recipes and find inspiration from Fuhrman’s Eat to Live–however, my diet is kind of a hybrid between the two (I strive for low-fat and also moderate my carb intake). Today I made pancakes with chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, and they turned out great! I used a nonstick skillet also (omitting the need for oil) and stevia extract for a sugar-free sweetener.


45 Jennifer November 23, 2012 at 7:38 am

Did anyone else have trouble with the consistency of these? Mine came out kind of gooey…


46 Peggy October 27, 2013 at 8:09 am

We had the exact same problem. Although they are delicious & with a wonderful banana flavor, they are extremely gooey inside. We’ve made them twice now with the same result. Thought cooking them longer would help, but didn’t.


47 Susan Voisin October 27, 2013 at 8:39 am

It may be that the batter is too thick and if you add a little water, they may turn out better. But in case you don’t want to try that recipe again, here’s a link to my very reliable pancake or waffle recipe:


48 Emily March 28, 2013 at 8:21 am

Do you think it would work to substitute Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer for the Ener-G? I have trouble finding Ener-G locally. Thanks!


49 Susan Voisin March 28, 2013 at 8:53 am

Emily, I’ve never used Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer, but if it uses about the same proportions as Ener-G (1/2 tablespoon = 1 egg) then I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.


50 Emily March 28, 2013 at 10:26 am

Thanks Susan! Yes the proportions are the same apparently. I will report back after I try it!


51 Amy May 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

Thank you so much for putting this wonderful website together! My family and I are new to the vegan lifestyle, and we need all the help we can get. I want to keep moving forward, and support like you have on this website will make it so much easier for me! God bless you! ~Amy


52 Marie Dolan September 18, 2013 at 9:17 pm



53 Bob September 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I used 2 heaping Tbspn of ground flax mixed in warm water instead of the egg replacer and 1 tspn baking soda and extra almond milk instead of the sparkling water. They came out light and fluffy and were great.


54 Janine April 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I made these pancakes tonight for our “breakfast for dinner” night. We all really enjoyed the flavor. They were fluffy as they cooked on the first side, but when I flipped them they got “flat as a pancake”! Also, they were a bit “mushy” in the middle, despite cooking them much longer than I’m sure they need to be. I attribute this to the banana, but I’m not totally sure. I made 2 changes: I used 1T of applesauce instead of the Lighter Bake and instead of Ener-G egg replacer I used another egg substitute. Any thoughts? Thanks!


55 Susan Voisin April 28, 2014 at 5:40 am

If the other egg substitute didn’t contain a leavener like baking powder, it might be the problem. The Ener-G is what really makes these fluffy.


56 gloria May 6, 2014 at 7:15 am

has anyone tried these and just left the bananas out? also where to you buy egg replacer in Nova Scotia


57 PJ Cannon July 13, 2014 at 10:38 am

These were awesome. My grandson ate three servings for a total of 6! The ingredients and proportions were right-on! I used applesauce for the Sunsweet Lighter Bake.


58 PJ Cannon July 13, 2014 at 10:48 am

PS. I added a dash of cinnamon and vanilla to the recipe.


59 Heidi December 5, 2014 at 10:34 am

Could I use GF All Purpose Flour in place of the regular flour? I am allergic to gluten. :( Would it be a 1:1 ratio?


60 Susan Voisin December 5, 2014 at 10:59 am

If it’s a gluten-free blend that contains a variety of different flours/starches, then yes, I think it would work on a 1 to 1 ratio.


61 Heidi December 5, 2014 at 11:34 am

I am not vegan and do not have Ener-G Egg replacer. Can I use regular eggs? What is the substitution i could make?


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