I don’t know about you, but I have a weakness for dessert. Even though I try to avoid trans fats, corn syrup and other creepy manufactured food-like substances, I sometimes have trouble resisting a pie. For a natural foodie, pumpkin pie can be a challenge. Most of the recipes I’ve seen use highly processed ingredients. Most pies from the store contain partially hydrogenated oils and all manner of refined sweeteners. Even if your grandma makes her own, she probably uses trans fat shortening in the pie crust and corn syrup laden sweetened condensed milk in the filling. If your family is like mine, they then serve the pie with non-dairy whipped topping. Even worse, they bring out the “lite” non-dairy whipped topping sweetened with artificial, non-caloric sweetener. Ugh. Shudder.
Won’t you join me in making and advocating for a more natural pie this holiday season? This recipe is about as simple as it gets. Even better, it uses up to four local ingredients (Five if you use local lard or butter in your pie crust). Cook some whole, local pumpkins in the crock pot (see directions below recipe) or substitute canned organic pumpkin in a pinch. Substitute coconut milk for the milk if you want a non-dairy version. Make your favorite pie crust or try one made without partially hydrogenated oils. You can even use a gluten-free crust. It’s as easy as pie!
1 3/4 cups cooked pumpkin* or organic canned pumpkin
3/4 cup organic milk* or coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup* or honey*
3 eggs* (my daughter’s sensitive to chicken eggs, so we used 4 pheasant eggs)
1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 unbaked pie crust (your favorite recipe or click here for store bought without trans fats)
*ingredient that can be sourced from a local farm
See the **recipe below to cook your fresh pumpkin in the crock pot. Preheat the oven to 400º. Put the pumpkin, milk, sweetener, eggs, salt and spice into the blender. Blend everything together until well-mixed. You may have to stop the blender and scrape it down once. It’s pretty liquidy, so most blenders should do alright. View my favorite blender here. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. I find it helpful to cover the edges of the crust to prevent over browning. This is especially important if you made your crust with butter. I used to struggle to cover the edge with foil part way through baking, burning my arms in the process. Now I cover at the beginning for 25 minutes and then uncover to let it finish baking. If you are concerned about using foil on your food, try using an edge cover. (Click the link to buy a non-aluminum edge cover made for this purpose.) Foil is more of a pain in the butt (plus that whole aluminum thing), but sometimes you have to use what you have. Bake the pie for 45-55 minutes. If you stick a knife in the pie about one inch from the edge, the knife will come out clean even though the center will still be soft. The filling will have puffed up a little and begun to harden and crack near the edge. Cool the pie on a wire rack. Don’t get worried when it deflates a little while cooling. Be sure to serve it with real whipped cream or coconut cream because the fake stuff breaks my heart and damages yours.
**Cooking Pumpkins or Squash in the Crock Pot
1 or 2 pie pumpkins, depending on the size of your crock pot.
Rinse the pumpkins and put them whole into the crock pot. Cover and heat on low for 6 – 8 hours until soft. You will smell them and see them starting to collapse in on themselves. Cool slightly, cut in half and remove seeds. Spoon out softened pumpkin flesh to use in your favorite recipe, or just serve with some salt and butter.
More Real Food Holiday Recipes