Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just in time for Thanskgiving: Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and you know what that means: time to FEAST! For me, that's a reason to rejoice. After all, it is the Super Bowl of all meals. However, some people have a love/hate relationship with the holiday: they love getting together with family and eating some delicious home cooked food, but they hate feeling guilty about their Turkey-day transgressions.

For the Paleo/Primal eater, there's no need to fret if you're making smart choices on a daily basis. As long as you avoid any foods that you have a sensitivity or allergy to, I don't see any reason why you can't kick your heels up a bit and enjoy your Thanksgiving favorites like corn or mashed potatoes. Still, I'd pass on any gluten containing items like rolls or pasta if you can avoid it.

To me, Thanksgiving is the perfect Paleo holiday. It represents the meal European settlers shared with our country's hunter-gatherers, the Native Americans. Unfortunately, the Native Americans didn't know that the Europeans were bringing the Diseases of Civilization to the table. But to be fair, I don't think the Europeans knew it either, otherwise, they probably would have adopted the eating habits of the Native Americans in order to improve their general health. Still, there is a lot to be thankful for. Plus, what could be better than a huge cooked bird with tons of vegetables on the side?

Turkey aside, there is one dish that has become synonymous with Thanksgiving: pumpkin pie. While it's doubtful that pumpkin pie (or some variation of it) was served at the first Thanksgiving, it has become the traditional desert in the years since.  Let's face it, Thanksgiving is just not the same without pumpkin pie, and eating Paleo does not mean you have to give it up. Here's my recipe for a dairy-free, gluten-free pumpkin pie that everyone will love on turkey day.

Mmm! Everyone loves pie!

Paleo Pumpkin Pie
2 cups mashed pumpkin (baked from fresh or 1 can)
2 eggs (preferably organic & free range)
3/4 cup coconut milk (regular, not light or low fat)
Pumpkin Spice to taste (mix 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp clove, 1/4 tsp ginger to start)
1/4 cup brown sugar*
Coconut oil (to grease the pan)

Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Mix everything together until smooth - I used a food processor to speed things along, but you can use a bowl and mix by hand too.

Grease a pie pan liberally with coconut oil. Pour in the pie mixture. Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes. Chill, slice and serve. If you greased the pan properly, the slices should come out pretty cleanly.

*Note: Depending on how strict you are, you may think I'm crazy to include brown sugar in a Paleo recipe. Sure, sugar is not part of a daily Paleo lifestyle. I went with brown sugar because, really, does it mater that much? It's all just sugar and this is a once a year thing. Consider it your "stumbling upon the honey tree" moment as the Dr.s Eades call it in Protein Power Lifeplan. That said, I think there are a lot of "natural" sweeteners that get a free pass that are not any better and are sometimes worse. If you must, go ahead and use agave nectar or stevia or whatever is the sugar du jour but just remember that when your body tastes sweet regardless of the source or calories, it reacts accordingly. Actually, I take that back, don't use agave nectar, it's almost all fructose.

Also, if you're the type that thinks a piece of pumpkin pie looks naked without a dollop of whipped cream on top, you could always mix up some coconut milk whipped cream. I haven't tried it yet, but you can see how to make it in this video. (I would probably reduce, substitute, or omit the powdered sugar based on taste).

If you get the canned pumpkin make sure you get the one with only one ingredient (pumpkin, duh), not the pie filling that has extra stuff in it. Canned is easier but if you want to get really adventurous (and know exactly what goes into your pie) pick up a pie pumpkin and try baking it yourself. Don't think of it as an extra step, think of it as another chance to bake in some love. Plus, it's better to support real tangible food than a processed alternative even if it's pretty clean. The other benefit of using a fresh pumpkin is you can roast the seeds and have a bonus snack.

Pie ready to be baked and some seeds to snack on while we wait.

How to bake a pie pumpkin:
  • Cut in half. A serrated knife and a sawing motion works best. Be careful!
  • Remove the stem, scoop out the seeds and stringy insides.
  • Place cut side down on a foil lined baking sheet and cover with foil
  • Bake at about 350 for around 90 minutes or until the inside is all soft
  • Scoop out with a spoon and it's ready for pie making.
That's it. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving holiday. Enjoy the feast!

What's your favorite Thanksgiving tradition, memory, or recipe? Post to comments.

1 comment:

  1. I am pretty stoked to try this. I'm baking my pies tonight!