Healthy Pumpkin Pie, Baked in the Shell

Pumpkin Pie Baked in the Pumpkin

Fresh Pumpkin Pie SliceOk, now THIS was a fun one to figure out! I wanted a fully REAL food pumpkin pie – nothing processed. And I wanted to bake it in the shell. And I wanted it to be fairly easy. Here you go: simple, healthy, and beautiful!

If you’re thinking of making this for Thanksgiving, you may want to make it once or twice ahead of time, too. Not because it’s tricky or anything, just because it’s delicious :-).

Ingredients
2 medium “Sugar Pumpkins” – these are NOT jack o’lantern pumpkins, they’re quite different. Look for ones marked “sugar pumpkins” or “baking pumpkins.”
1/2 cup maple syrup
3-4 tbsp “pumpkin pie spice” (or mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and allspice)
1 tsp salt
1.5 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon vanilla
I also like to add some freshly ground nutmeg and a little fresh ginger if I have it on hand
Pepitas for garnish
Optional: 1/4 cup marscapone cheese – makes the pie super-creamy, but omit for vegan version
Optional: 2 eggs – they’re not needed, but some people prefer the texture of eggy pumpkin pie

How to make

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the tops off of both pumpkins, and cut one in to halves, leaving the other whole. With a spoon, scrape out the seeds and other tissues and put aside (you can roast the seeds later if you like).

Pumpkin pieces ready to roastMix the maple syrup, spices, and salt, and pour into the “bowls” of the halves and the whole pumpkin, and spread around the inside surface. Place these on a large baking sheet and lay a piece of aluminum foil over all. Place into the oven – they are going to cook about 30 – 50 minutes (totally depends on the pumpkins, they can vary considerably), until softened but the shell of the large pumpkin is still solid (not collapsed).

Remove the pumpkins to cool. Put the cashews, a little water and vanilla in a high speed blender (like Vitamix) or food processor. Note: If you do not have a high speed blender, simmer the cashews in water for about 15 minutes, then discard the water before processing) Process until smooth, adding a little water as needed to make smooth. If you are using marscapone cheese and/or eggs, add them now.

When the pumpkin pieces are cool enough, pick them up and pour the remaining maple syrup/spices from them directly into the cashew mix and continue blending on low. Then, scrape the soft pumpkin pulp from the pumpkin halves, all the way to the skin (discarding skin), and add to the blender (still on low). Last, scrape about half of the pumpkin pulp from the whole pumpkin, leaving enough to preserve the structure, and also add this to the blender. Process until smooth. Note: you may overflow your blender, and have to blend in stages.

Taste the pumpkin mixture (assuming you haven’t added eggs) and adjust seasonings – I usually wind up adding some more spices at this point.

Pumpkin ready to go back into the oven

Pumpkin ready to go back into the oven. Note that the filling will expand a bit, so expect it to overflow if you fill to the edge.

When the filling is ready, slowly pour it back into the whole pumpkin, and put the “pie” back in the oven to bake for another 40 – 50 minutes or so, until the top is browned and the filling seems to be set. Remove, and let cool to room temperature, or place in the refrigerator to serve later (most people prefer pumpkin pie to be chilled).

I like to serve this topped with a little more cashew cream or marscapone, blended with a bit of maple syrup, plus a sprinkling of toasted pumpkin seeds. Slice from top to bottom and put slices flat onto plates, then top with the cashew cream or marscapone. Beautiful and delicious – Enjoy!!!

Farmer’s Market Peach Crisp

Farmer's Market Peach Crisp

Peaches are naturally juicy and sweet … so they need very little added to them to be amazing! Take this basic recipe and experiment all Summer – try adding a handful of raspberries … basil … even some grated ginger!

Buy organic peaches for your health and the health of our planet … and ask the growers at your farmer’s market whether they have any “scratch and dent” peaches with bruises or other imperfections. Not only are they a fraction of the price of perfect peaches, they’ll be the fruits that are ripe and ready to use when you get home!

Farmer’s Market Peach Crisp

Ingredients

6-10 medium scratch/dent (or other) peaches
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp almond extract

1 cup whole oats
½ cup almonds
½ cup walnuts
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup brown sugar OR 1/4 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
pinch of salt

Preparation
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Peel the peaches, remove any soft or bruised areas, and chop into about 4-5 slices per peach
3. Combine the peach slices with the lemon juice, coconut flour, and almond extract in a large bowl. Toss until the peaches are well coated.
4. Put the peaches into a casserole dish or lasagna pan.
5. Add the the oats, almonds, walnuts, and coconut flakes in a processor and pulse to break up into a coarse but fairly even mixture. Be careful here, don’t over-mix or you’ll wind up with nut butter!
6. Put this mix in your bowl, add the coconut oil, brown sugar, and salt, and mix with a spoon.
7. Place this mixture over the peaches.
8. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the peaches are bubbling and the topping is lightly browned.

Top with greek yogurt or a small scoop of high-quality vanilla ice cream.

Most important: sit and really ENJOY the amazing taste of summer … preferably sharing with family and friends who share your love of healthy, delicious food!

Happy Healthy Christmas Salad!

Christmas Salad

Celebrate in holiday colors with this fresh-tasting snowy green and white salad. This simple dish is drop-dead gorgeous AND a welcome break from heavier holiday standards! I love using a veggie chopper like the Vidalia Chopper for this, because it makes perfectly even squares for a really pretty salad!

ENJOY!!

Salad Ingredients
1 cup white quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 medium white or yellow onion
1 cup very finely chopped green or red kale, any type, but chop super-finely, as you would an herb, or like parsley for tabbouleh
1 cucumber, finely chopped
crumbled feta cheese (omit to make vegan)

Dressing Ingredients
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons lemon juice or white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
two pinches sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 avocado (if available)
1/2 seeded jalapeño (if desired)

Cook the quinoa in the two cups of water (I’m guessing you have a favorite method already; if not, here is a great page about how to cook quinoa.

Cool the quinoa for a few minutes at least (can be cooked ahead and refrigerated). Toss together with the other salad ingredients, except feta cheese.

Combine dressing ingredients in your blender and blend for a few seconds until smooth.

This can all be done up to 4 hours or so before eating; add the dressing, sprinkle with feta and stir to mix, 30-60 minutes before serving to let flavors combine.

Feel free to add your own touches to this salad – it’s a great base. Try:
Mexican style: add pepitas, tomato, avocado chunks, black beans and corn, and cumin.

Mediterranean style: add oregano, olives, and herbs de provence seasoning.

Superfood style: avocado, winter squash, diced beets, pumpkin seeds and arugula

Made today: Raw Cashew Dreamcake from My New Roots

rawcashewdreamcakeraspberryI’m not a vegetarian, but find I generally feel better when I focus on non-meat food sources.  Today, I was out looking for ways to use up some cashew cream that I’d made, and stumbled onto the My New Roots blog’s Raw Cashew Dreamcake recipe.  Working with what I had on-hand, I had to substitute cranberries for the raspberries, but this was AMAZING.  Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!

Steath Health: Healthy Substitutions (that can make food taste better!)

As I’ve said before, I’m NOT a fan of compromise …in any form, really, but particularly not in something as important as what I eat.  But there are a lot of simple substitutions you can make without even impacting the deliciousness of your favorite recipes … and sometimes even making them tastier!

Give these a try and let me know what you think:

  • Replace sodas with sparkling water.  Add muddled fruit for a flavor boost:  this time of year, try ginger and lemon, or fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice!
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