A few years ago, I travelled to the USA with my family. As the lone Ceoliac, I missed out on many iconic American treats; pizza, king size burritos, donuts and fried chicken. It was Autumn, or Fall, at that time and Americans go quite mad for all things pumpkin. All the fore mentioned greasy food I could gladly do without but I was slightly gutted to miss out on real American pumpkin pie. The combination of savoury but sweet pumpkin, aromatic spices, pastry and a dollop of cream truly sounds like comfort food heaven.
Many of my readers will cry, “who has time to make pie?” You may not have time this week or next week. I do encourage everyone to reconnect with food in the process of enjoying slow food. Taking the time to understand what goes into food and how we can nourish our bodies without caving in to processed food.
The Benefits of Carotenoids
Pumpkin is a wonderful vegetable that lends itself to so many culinary purposes both sweet and savoury. Pumpkin belongs to the carotenoid family of fruit and vegetables. Carotenoids or beta carotenoids include all the rainbow fruits and vegetables: carrots, sweet potato, kumera, beetroot, blueberries, spinach, kale, rockmelon, papaya and mango to name a few. Carotenoids are known to support our bodies functioning by:
Supporting the immune system: as they are the precursors of vitamin A they assist the bodies recovery from illness. Carotenoids act as antioxidants which help fight infection and illness. Anyone who suffers with autoimmune conditions should ramp up their intake of carotenoids as they support the immune system to regulate itself.
Anti-inflammatory: the rich pigments in carotenoids reduce the body’s inflammatory response to injury, or chronic conditions such as arthritis. Suffers of rheumatoid arthritis often find that they are better off swapping their nightshade vegetables for carotenoids. For example, exchanging potatoes and tomatoes for pumpkin and beetroot.
Good for your motions: foods that are rich in vitamin A or carotenoids support the function of our entire gastrointestinal system. They encourage bowel motility and health of the mucous membranes that line the walls of the gastrointestinal system.
Reduce risk of cancers: studies have shown that dietary deficiencies of vitamin A increase the risk of cancer. Supplementing vitamin A and carotenoids may not decrease risk or progression, dietary increase may still be the best way to prevent common cancers.
Improves skin conditions: acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions can benefit from increased intake of carotenoids. Consider the logic of high vitamin A medications that are prescribed for acne: including carotenoids into the diet is a bio available way of increasing vitamin A to support skin healing.
Pastries should be in a healthy diet kept to a treat minimum and keep in mind that most commercial pastries are full of trans fats, using cheap margarines rather than butter or quality oils. This pumpkin pie will never be on the Michelle Bridges food list but it won’t clog your arteries and give you diabetes either.
Try to establish the difference between nutrient density and nutrient paucity.You can have pie once or twice a week if it is full of wholesome ingredients that actually nourish and satisfy the body and soul.
Gluten free, refined sugar free, can be dairy free
As usual I have taken a classic treat and tailored it to make it suit a diet that is conscious of refined sugar, grains and trans fats.
The flavour of this pie is more like a custard tart with the flavour of pumpkin and spice. It isn’t a pastry base as such: more like a crumb base that is similar to a tart or cheesecake without the sugar and cheap biscuits. If you cannot be bothered fussing with the spices you can buy pumpkin spice already mixed. Just make sure you like the flavour of the spice mix first.
For the crust:
2 cups of almond meal
½ cup of brown rice flour
Pinch of sea salt
½ cup of melted coconut oil
For the filling:
2 ½ cups of cooked pumpkin pureed
200ml of double thick cream or coconut cream
2 tablespoons of almond butter
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
½ teaspoon of ground ginger
¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon of allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla paste or extract
For the crust:
In a mixing bowl, add the almond meal, brown rice flour, coconut sugar, salt, coconut oil and egg. Either using a food processor or a mixer combine all ingredients until they form a crumb mixture.
Press the mixture into the base of a 9" free base tart tin. Refrigerate while you make the filling.
For the filling:
Preheat oven to 150 degrees. In a medium bowl add all ingredients and with a hand blender, mix until very smooth. The mixture should resemble a custard. Pour filling into the crust lined tin and bake for about 50 minutes. The filling should be partially set and slightly golden on top. Refrigerate for about 2 hours before slicing.