Thanksgiving is just a week away which means one thing…..a day filled with family, friends and a whole LOT of food!! The turkey, the stuffing, all those great veggie side dishes…..my mouth is watering just thinking about it!! But, let’s be honest…..the real star of any holiday meal is the dessert? And when it comes to Thanksgiving, pie seems to be the all time favorite. I love pie but so often the dessert pies are made with white flour, dairy and loaded with refined sugar. Like many of you, I have eliminated these ingredients from my diet, so when dessert is served, I often miss out. 🙁
Well, have no fear because I have a pie recipe that is sure to please everyone at your table! It is a Chai Spiced Sweet Potato Pie. Doesn’t that sound amazing?? Not only is it refined sugar free, it is also gluten and dairy free. Now before you turn your nose up, hear me out. We all know that sugar is bad for us. It is basically empty calories, void of any nutrition and causes inflammation in the body. The same can be said for gluten as well as dairy. But that does not mean you have to skip dessert. There are so many substitutes for gluten, dairy and sugar that taste just as good or even better. And, your body will be loving you for it. 🙂
So, let’s talk about the ingredients in my pie. First up…..sweet potatoes. Who doesn’t love sweet potatoes? They can be used in sweet or savory dishes and they are chock full of nutrition. The bright orange color means they are loaded with beta carotene which is transformed into Vitamin A in our bodies. Did you know that just one medium sweet potato has over 400% of your daily requirement for Vitamin A? They also contain Vitamin C and potassium. Sweet potatoes are also very grounding so they are a great veggie to incorporate into your diet this time of year when life can be a wee bit hectic.
I used orange sweet potatoes for this recipe, but there are also white and purple sweet potatoes. A purple sweet potato pie???? Now that would be a show stopper! I may have to give that one a try.
Next up…..pecans. Arguably, one of my favorites when it comes to nuts. Pecans contain 11 vitamins and nutrients which play a role in reducing inflammation, improving brain function and decreasing your risk for heart disease. Pecans are also high in healthy fats and we LOVE our healthy fats, don’t we???
You may have noticed that the crust in this recipe is made with pecans. Nut based crusts are becoming more popular as a way to substitute sugar and remove gluten while still maintaining the taste and texture of a great pie crust. This recipe can be used in place of any flour based pie crust. Although it uses a few dates as a binder, it is still lower in carbs than a traditional flour crust. And, it’s so much easier to prepare!
The “chai flavor” comes from an amazing array of spices. Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, cardamom are typically found in chai tea. These spices are also used in many Thanksgiving recipes. They help to balance your blood sugar and also aid digestion. And, they add such warmth and depth of flavor to this pie.
There is one ingredient you may not be familiar with and that is arrowroot. Arrowroot is a white powdery starch that comes from a tropical plant called Maranta Arundinecea. The plant looks similar to other tubers such as cassava and yucca. Arrowroot is gluten free, grain free and vegan and is typically used as a thickener in place of cornstarch. Arrowroot contains potassium, iron and B vitamins. It also has more fiber than potatoes. Go figure!
As you can see from the recipe, there is very little sugar in this pie. A touch of maple syrup in the filling and a few dates in the crust. Maple and date sugars give pies a deep, caramelized flavor. I love a big dose of the chai flavor with a little bit of sweetness. But everyone’s taste is different. Taste test the filling after you mix all the ingredients and decide if you would like a little more or a little less of each. Remember less is more when it comes to sweeteners!
For many people, the holiday season kicks off 2 months of too many calories and lots of unhealthy ingredients. Nobody likes boring food but you should not have to harm your health to have a fabulous holiday (or any day) meal. You can make holiday desserts that are healthy and delicious simply by swapping out some of the ingredients. It’s as easy as pie (pun intended!) So, treat yourself and everyone at your Thanksgiving table to this delicious and healthy dessert.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving. May you celebrate with the people you love and the food that brings you health and happiness.
Vegan Chai Spiced Sweet Potatoe Pie
2 large sweet potatoes
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut nectar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch
2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp sea salt
1. Cook the sweet potatoes in a 400 degree oven until very soft, about 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the sweet potatoes to cool.
2. Scoop out the insides of the sweet potatoes and place them in a food processor bowl. Add the coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Process until smooth.
3. Pour the batter into a prepared pie crust, smooth the top with a spatula and bake for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees. Allow the pie to cool completely before slicing.
4. Top with whipped coconut crème if desired.
Recipe by Alissa Saenz of Phoenixville, PA
Pecan Date Pie Crust
1/2 cup pitted dates, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, soaked for 2-3 hours
1/8 tsp salt
1 to 2 tsp coconut oil
1. Soak the dates in hot water for 10 minutes
2. Remove the dates from the water and pat dry.
3. Place the dates, pecans, 1 tsp. coconut oil and salt in the food processor bowl and blend until the mixture sticks together.
4. Lightly oil the bottom of a nine inch pie pan. Press the date mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.
5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Check out this gorgeous heirloom pumpkin I picked up at the farmers market last weekend!!