Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes & My “Oil-Free Challenge”

This past Monday I started a 28 day “Oil-Free” challenge. I wanted to support and join my fellow HealthyMamma Kim on her Engine 2 Vegan Challenge but I’m already vegan…I’ve been dairy free for almost 2 years and meat free for a couple of months…prior to that I was still consuming fish on occasion.  So, obviously, the vegan part of the challenge isn’t exactly a challenge for me. ;)

But, the Engine 2 program goes far beyond just adopting a vegan diet…it’s a whole foods plant based diet that eliminates all processed foods, added sugars, and added oils. I’ve been processed food free for almost 2 years and I kicked sugar to the curb (other than natural sugars like maple syrup) long ago…so that part did not fit me either. However, I have not been oil free and apparently that’s a BIG part of the Engine 2 plan! So, I thought I’d challenge myself to go completely oil-free for 28 days and then share my results.

I had actually already been toying with the oil free idea…since reading my Forks Over Knives companion book. For example, for a while now I’ve been sauteing my veggies in organic low-sodium veggie broth…and it works great! I can’t believe I ever thought I needed to use oil to sautee! BUT, I’ve always been a big fan of oil and vinegar dressings and one of my FAVORITE treats is a slice of Manna bread with coconut oil spread on top. I have my weaknesses!

I, like many people, have always thought that there are “good oils” out there. In my mind these are oils like extra-virgin olive oil and unrefined organic coconut oil. And I’ve always thought that our bodies can actually benefit from adding them, in small amounts, to our diets.  But, according to the Engine 2 plan…I’m sorely mistaken. Drats!

I can’t promise that after this challenge I’ll stick to the oil-free thing…after all, I already consider myself pretty darn healthy! My last blood work results were outstanding. I’m currently at my ideal weight. My doctor says that he wishes all of his patients were as healthy as me! And, most importantly, I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my entire life with my current whole foods plant based diet…with small amounts of oil. But, I’m a very open minded gal and I’m willing to try anything for 28 days that might benefit my healthy lifestyle. Plus, I’m a Taurus…which pretty much makes me as determined as they come. If I put myself up to a challenge…you’d better believe that I’m going to get it done! I’m curious to see if there are any changes in my blood work or any changes in the way I feel after this month…stay tuned to find out. :)

To get myself started this week I’ve been working my way through some new recipes…and some old faithful ones…eliminating all of the oil. Sometimes it goes great…but, I can’t say that it’s gone great in all areas. I’m an oil-free work in progress…I’ll elaborate and keep you guys posted as I evolved into a less oily version of myself. ;)

Before I sign off for the weekend…I thought I’d pass along a recipe where I’ve had no problems eliminating the oil…vegan PANCAKES!! In this version I added organic canned pumpkin and typical pumpkin pie spices…they are warm and flavorful…perfect for fall! I’ve also made a banana nut version that you can check out in this previous post…if you and your family fancy pancakes as much as my family does. :)


Have a fabulously healthy PLANT STRONG weekend! :)

Health & Hugs ~ Melissa

Vegan Pumpkin Pancakes
Recipe type: Breakfast
Author: Melissa
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 2 to 4
Delicious vegan and oil free pancakes…with one of my favorite things added…pumpkin! These are perfect for those chilly fall mornings. I use homemade almond milk which is thinner than the store bought. If you use store bought, use a mixture of 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup water to thin it out.
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour or oat flour
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/3 cup organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup homemade almond milk (or 1/2 cup store bought almond milk & 1/2 cup water)
  1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well, set aside
  2. Combine all wet ingredients and whisk well to combine
  3. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix just until incorporated
  4. Allow your batter to sit while you preheat your griddle to medium-high
  5. Drop by ladle full (or 1/3 cup measuring cup full) onto greased grilled and slightly flatten with the back of your ladle or cup
  6. Cook until bubbles form throughout the middle of the pancake and the edges look dry
  7. Flip and cook a few more minutes on the other side
  8. These take a little longer to cook because of the pumpkin…just make sure that the edges look dry and there are lots of bubbles in the middle of each pancake before you flip them
  9. **I use a non-stick griddle, but if yours is not non-stick, lightly spray the surface with a small amount of cooking spray.

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About Melissa

I've been blessed with an amazing husband, Tyler and two amazing children, Mia who is 5yrs old and Luke who is 3yrs old. Our entire family has a passion for food. We see food as a means of nutrition, something wonderful to enjoy and indulge in, and meals...if we are doing them right...serve as a fun social experience too! Food definitely brings this family together!
Our family, as a whole, eats a mostly vegetarian diet...although we do consume meat and fish, on occasion. So, I'm always looking for and trying out new vegetarian and vegan recipes that hopefully all of us will enjoy.
Besides food, we are passionate about gardening. We have an organic veggie garden in our backyard that provides a good portion of the veggies that we consume. The kids love to jump in and get their hands dirty and it's crazy how much they already know about gardening! It makes my husband and me so happy to think that they will (hopefully) carry this experience and lifestyle into their futures.
I'm also passionate about learning new ways to lead a healthy lifestyle and provide one for my family...and, I love sharing these ideas with anyone who is interested in hearing about them! So, as I discover recipes and other healthy happy things I will share them...and when you discover some yourself...I'd love for you to share them with me! :)


  1. Meridith says:

    Congrats on taking the 28 day challenge! I’ve been following basically the same thing for almost 4 years now (Dr. John McDougall’s plant-based plan – no oils, sugar, low-fat, etc.) I’m also toying with going gluten-free (I’m gluten-light now). I think you’ll be amazed at how much better your food tastes without the oils clogging up your taste buds! :)

    • Melissa says:

      Thank you Meridith!! VERY cool about my food tasting better without oils…I had not even thought about that positive side effect!! :)

  2. Leanne says:

    These look great!!! I’m going to use my fresh, Rouge Vif D’etampes pumkins that are ready to harvest! This is my first week going vegan. I’m struggling with eliminating dairy, eggs, and oil. I’ve switched to using just grape seed oil. But, this morning I made some chocolate zucchini muffins that were sans eggs and oil – I substituted flax meal and applesauce instead. They were a lot more sticky than normal, and pretty dense, but definitely edible. I’m like you, I don’t know if I’ll be able to totally stick to all of the changes, but I’m giving it a good try and know that, wherever I end up, I’m sure it’ll be healthier than where I started a week ago!!!

    • Melissa says:

      I’m so jealous Leanne…you have homegrown pumpkins!! :)
      When first going dairy free I thought there was no way that I could do it…I was a BIG dairy eater up until then! It’s definitely a tough one to eliminate…much tougher than meat in my opinion because there’s dairy in so many different foods!! But, If it makes you feel any better…I don’t miss it AT ALL now…not one single bit!! Well, I take that back…if I’m in NYC and I smell pizza…then I miss it a little. ;) Just get through your first 30 days with no dairy and you’ll start to notice how much better you feel…then you won’t look back. :)

  3. Christy says:

    This Heallthy Mammas is fun! I love following people during their journey on different challenges. Happy is all oil free recipes. I recently bought her book and have loved everything I’ve tried so far. I dont’ know that I would ever want to give up organic coconut oil as it has so many health benefits. Look forward to reading your posts, Melissa.

    • Melissa says:

      Thanks Christy! I’ve heard wonderful things about Happy Herbivore…I need to check out her site. I think she has a book out…right?? I’m with you on the coconut oil thing…not only on it’s health benefits but also simply how YUMMY it is!! If I’m being so darn good in other areas of my diet…shouldn’t I treat myself with a little coconut oil here and there?? ;) Thanks for commenting and I’ll keep you posted on how it’s going these next few weeks. :)

  4. Paul says:

    3 months on the Oil Free, Dairy Free, etc Esselstyn diet. Meat was easy, Dairy a little tougher, oils really hard especially the saute part. Cholesterol Numbers just came back and they are AMAZING, Total dropped from 194 to 146, LDL from 137 (borderline high) to 92 (optimal <100). 20 pounds of fat also evaporated.

    Always looking for new recipes to keep food interesting and tasty. Pumpkin pancakes are on the menu this Sunday morning.

    The unexpected difficulties have been the smell of pizza, no spritz of olive oil or safflower oil for sauteeing vegetables, no peanut/almond butter or cheese. After a month, ribs/steak/chicken sort of grossed me out and Kale actually started sounding like food.

    Remember what Jack LaLane said: "if it tastes good, spit it out".

    Now my challenges are clothes that fit and not becoming a PITA about what other people eat.

    • Melissa says:

      Congratulations Paul that is incredible!!! I went oil-free about a month ago and it’s definitely been the biggest challenge…simply because not only are you changing the foods you’re eating, you’re also changing the way you cook! Sauteing has actually been pretty easy for me…I just use a little veggie broth or water and keep a close eye on things so that they don’t stick. My bigger problem has come in the way of baking and roasting veggies…I used to LOVE roasted veggies prepped with a little olive oil. The baking thing is trial and error to see what oil replacement works best with a particular recipe…can be a bit time consuming…but, well worth the health benefit. I actually still eat almond and peanut butters…I just make sure to find ones with no other ingredient except the nut…no oil, salt, sugar added, etc…and I limit them so that I just have a little here and there. Oh, and I indulged in a little pizza last night too…I just had no cheese on it, loaded it up with veggies, and sprinkled it with a generous helping of brewers yeast for a little “cheesy flavor”. I want to be healthy…but, I still want food to be fun every now and then too! :)
      Again, CONGRATULATIONS and keep up the great work!!! :)


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