Sunday, 18 May 2014

All About Cacao and a Vegan Cacao Buckwheat Pancake Recipe

As someone who is a huge fan of chocolate but who still wants to consume a plant-based diet (for both health and ethical reasons) filled with nutritious and whole foods, cacao is a godsend for me. Raw chocolate bars, raw cacao powder, raw cacao nibs - they're all absolutely delicious and I have something including one (or more) of them almost every day. 

Cacao is harvested from the seeds of the cacao tree ('Theobroma Cacao') which is native to tropical regions of Central and South America. The tree was named by Carl von Linnaeus, a Swedish scientist, in 1753; the name literally translates to "cacao, the food of the gods" which I personally think is a highly appropriate title!

Cacao is a natural source of energy due to the fact that it contains an alkaloid called theobromine; this is similar to caffeine but it doesn't have as much of an impact on the central nervous system and isn't an addictive stimulant like caffeine is claimed to be. The amount of theobromine found in raw chocolate is small enough to be safely consumed by humans, so don't worry about overdosing on it! 

As well as being delicious cacao has also been found to be nutritious, which is good news for all us chocolate lovers. Here are a few health benefits:

  • Cacao contains important minerals such as magnesium, iron and chromium
  • Cacao also contains vitamin C and essential omega 6 fatty acids
  • It has a large amount of antioxidants (by weight it has more than blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined!)
  • It contains serotonin which is a neurotransmitter found to be related to our 'happiness levels'. Without getting too scientific, low levels of serotonin in the brain have been found to be directly linked to depression which is why SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors e.g. fluoxitine) are used to try and reduce depressive symptoms. Cacao therefore actually has the ability to make you happier! (Note: if you're worried you may be suffering from depression please talk to a trusted friend or family member, or preferably a professional. Chocolate is fantastic but unfortunately it can't cure mental illnesses.)

Here are some other sources of information about cacao, if you'd like to know a bit more about it:

Real Raw Food - Cacao Information
Choc Chick - Raw Chocolate Benefits
Rawr Chocolate - Benefits of Raw Chocolate

I buy my raw cacao powder and raw cacao nibs from The Raw Chocolate Company and I enjoy a wide range of raw chocolate brands (see the 'In My Kitchen' page for more details).

Vegan Cacao Buckwheat Pancakes

One of the best things about eating a plant-based diet is that you can eat chocolate (i.e. cacao) for breakfast and be happy with the knowledge that you're still putting nutritious food into your body; you can also eat pancakes for breakfast with the same result. And when you put the two together to make healthy chocolate pancakes (yes, you read that correctly!) it's a taste explosion in your mouth without the unhealthy ingredients that regular chocolate pancakes contain. This recipe will give you extra thick and fluffy pancakes with a rich taste similar to that of dark chocolate; they're extremely satisfying and filling and will give you a huge amount of energy thanks to the usage of raw cacao powder.

Makes 6 - 7 small pancakes

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed and 6 tbsp water)
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour 
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 - 3 tbsp raw cacao powder (regular cocoa powder would work too but it doesn't have the same nutritional value as raw cacao powder)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk of choice
  • Oil of choice (I use coconut) for cooking

Note: to make mint chocolate pancakes simply add 1/4 tsp peppermint extract


The first thing you need to do is make your flax eggs; to do this simply mix the ground flaxseed and water together in a cup and leave it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to thicken up. 

When your flax eggs are ready you can begin making your pancakes. Firstly, sift the flour, baking powder and cacao powder into a large mixing bowl and stir it all together. Mash the banana into a pulp (you can leave behind a few slices to top the pancakes with if you wish) then add it into the bowl along with the non-dairy milk and flax eggs. Mix well until everything is combined - the consistency should be fairly thick, similar to that of cake mixture.

Heat your oil of choice in a frying pan over a medium heat; I have a non-stick frying pan so I only have to use a tiny amount of oil but you may need to use more if you don't have one. When the oil has heated up pour about 1/4 cup of the batter into the centre of the pan and spread it out slightly with a spoon, forming a pancake shape. Let it cook for a minute or two, until bubbles start forming on the top, then flip it over and cook it for another minute or so. It should flip over easily - if it doesn't then it hasn't fully cooked (I learned this the hard way!). Repeat with the rest of the mixture, then add your toppings and enjoy!



  1. I just recently stumbled upon ur insta and blog! All the food you make look incredible. I am also in recover from a restricting eating disorder and making and coming up with healthy nourishing recipes is so hard, especially on a budget like I am. All the blogs you recommend are also amazing.. all of you guys do not live in the US... Makes me think that you guys are well healthier then us over here. I Wish I could come visit all of you and have you make me all this wonderful food!! Thanks for sharing all this food and your story!!

    1. Aww thank you so much, that means a lot to me! I hope you find my recipes helpful, most of them are budget-friendly and they're definitely all nourishing! My lovely friend Casey (@wholeandhealthy on Instagram) is from the US too and she has lots of healthy recipes on her blog ( - I think anyone in the world can be healthy if they try! Haha, I'd love to make you food one day :) no, thank YOU for being so lovely and kind!
      I wish you all the best in your recovery, sweetie xxx

  2. Hi really love every single recipe you post on your blog! I already follow you on instagram and I decided to take a look on this're amazing! I will tag you on my pic when I will try your recipes! I'm craving pancakes right now! ;) keep going meghan! xxx @healthynanacream

    1. Aww, thank you so much, that's so sweet of you to say and it really means a lot to me! I really hope you like my recipes :) Haha, I always crave pancakes ;) thank you, dear! xxx

  3. I really love* (sorry I've written HI) ;D

  4. Hi! I just stumbled upon your blog a few months ago, and have been meaning to try your buckwheat pancakes as they look so devine and delish! i tried a basic buckwheat pancake recipe just to try it out, but the pancakes just would not cook!Are they supposed to be like that? They wouldn't bubble. I think I did something wrong, I'll have to try again.
    Anyway, thank you sooooo much for all of your wonderful recipes!
    xoxo~ @a_veryberry_kitchen on instagram <3

    1. Hey lovely :) I really hope you try them, I absolutely adore them!
      Ooh, that's strange, they should definitely cook - the bubbles will only be tiny ones which appear on the top of the pancake as the first side is cooking so maybe you just didn't spot them? When you next make them just use a medium temperature and wait for about a minute on the first side then try flipping the pancake over to see if it's cooked, even if bubbles don't appear! I hope you do try them again, please let me know if you do because I want you to enjoy the deliciousness that is buckwheat pancakes :)
      Aww, you're very welcome - thank you so much for your kind words!

    2. Okay! I very much thank you and hopefully I'll have better luck next time! haha I was so confused for a while so thank you for the tip! How do you come up with such delicious recipes??

    3. Haha, I hope so! You're very welcome :) I just start off with a base recipe (such as basic pancakes) which I create using inspiration from various different sources and recipes, then I add different flavour combinations to it depending on what sort of thing I'm in the mood for! :) I'm much better at coming up with breakfast recipes than main meals though ;) xxx

  5. Can you use chia seeds and water instead of the flax?

    1. You can indeed :) if you use chia eggs then just add an extra 1/4 cup of milk to the rest of the ingredients otherwise the batter will be too thick xxx

  6. Hi Meghan! I have followed you on instagram for a while and have checked out your blog a few times and I think all you are doing is so inspiring, I always love your pictures and all your recipes look divine! Keep doing what you're doing its brilliant. :) Emily Xxx

    1. Hey lovely! Thank you so much for your lovely words, they mean the world to me :) you're wonderful xxx


© Naturally Meghan . All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig