RAW VEGAN PUMPKIN PIE & THOUGHTS ON MAKING DESSERT A PART OF A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE
As a rule, I always ate dessert after every meal. We're not talking sweet pear slices, applesauce, Jello, or even fruitcake. We're talking about full on triple layer brownies topped with ice cream and Hershey's syrup and sprinkles, chocolate cake with piles of icing, rows of Chips Ahoy! and Girl Scout cookies, or any version of blended slurpable chemicals in a cup (a shake from Shake Shack, a Frosty from Wendy's, a Blizzard from Dairy Queen, a Flurry from McDonald's). If it had refined sugar, dairy, butter, heavy cream, or preservatives, I was sure to cap my meal with it. I craved sweetness as the final note to every lunch and dinner, and I wasn't done until I felt completely stuffed, high on sugar, and ready for the crash and burn, repeat! If I hadn't developed food allergies at the age of 30, which forced me into giving up processed food and ultimately adopting a healthy diet, I honestly hate to imagine what consequences my dessert habits would have led to by now. After over a year of suffering chronic severe allergy symptoms, I finally discovered radiant healthy by identifying my food allergens, which happened to be lurking in all processed foods, and switching to a whole foods diet overnight. This meant giving up the Keebler cookies, the HaagenDazs and Baskin Robbins, and Cadbury Creme Eggs and jelly beans and candy corn- all of it and more- gone, cold turkey. It was a brutal transition. I frantically Googled whole food dessert recipes, searching the universe for an answer to my cravings for the sugar/fat combo.
The logical answer would've been to bake my own cakes, cookies and pies from scratch, simply omitting the soy derived ingredients that I'm allergic to and that are prevalent in those store bought processed desserts. But I'd never baked before. And no emergency- not even this- could motivate me to learn baking. After all, I'd never made anything for myself in the kitchen besides pulling the plastic wrap off a microwavable meal. That's when I discovered the magic of raw vegan recipes.
Not only do raw vegan recipes consistently bypass processed ingredients, they also avoid the bad fats and refined sugar that are so unhealthy in traditional desserts. Made with real whole foods and sweetened with dates, raw vegan desserts are healthy and nutritious. As an artist, I found making raw vegan recipes is a bit like making painting and sculpture- blend a little, build a little. The recipes are so easy and typically require only a food processor or blender. If you ever took pleasure in using Play Doh as a kid, you'll have fun making raw vegan desserts, simply molding ingredients by hand into little truffle balls, or pressing dough into a pan. No hassle with baking times or a hot oven. I gave it a try and discovered raw vegan desserts are not only simple, but unbelievably delicious, and incredibly satisfying- all without the sugar crash and bloat I was accustomed to experiencing. Raw vegan carrot cake- tastes like real carrot cake! Raw vegan brownies- taste like real brownies! Raw vegan pumpkin pie- taste like the real thing too! The options are limitless, and I'll be sharing all of my favorite raw vegan dessert recipes on the blog in the time ahead.
When I first discovered raw vegan desserts after cutting out all processed food abruptly, I depended on these recipes to fill the void. I could still have cake, brownies, or cookies after lunch and dinner and as a late night snack too. Eating a pie filled with fat from healthy coconut oil and nutrient dense raw nuts and dates is an indulgence I could enjoy and afford without any sense of deprivation. I visited some raw vegan restaurants on both the East coast and West coast that served dessert before the main course, and I suddenly realized the notion of eating dessert as an emotional reward after a meal wasn't healthy for me. I began to incorporate raw vegan dessert into my regular meals, eating a slice of cake for breakfast when I pleased, some pie as a side with my salad. The emotional association of dessert as reward or source of guilt vanished, and for me this was incredibly empowering. After a few years of enjoying my new diet, I find that now I simply don't crave sweets at all like I used to. With refined sugar out of my system, my body is much more even keel. I make raw vegan desserts on occasion and still love to experiment with new recipes, but long gone are the days of craving dessert after every meal.
With autumn in the air, my two year old eagerly helped me whip up this easy, festive raw vegan pumpkin pie this week. It's incredibly nutritious- it has carrots in there ya'll- and it's fun to share with the whole family! If you're looking for a healthy indulgence to bring to the Thanksgiving table, look no further. Check out the recipe below and enjoy!
Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie
2 cups raw walnuts
2 cups raw pecans
1 cup pitted medjool dates
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp filtered water
1 cup grated carrots
2 cup raw cashews
1 15 ounce can of organic pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup unrefined virgin coconut oil
8 pitted medjool dates
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup filtered water
3 pitted medjool dates
2 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp vanilla extract (no alcohol)
pinch sea salt
To make the pie crust, place the raw walnuts and pecans into a food processor and pulse 3-4 times until the nuts are roughly chopped. Add all of the other pie crust ingredients into the food processor and continue to pulse until a dough has formed. Do not over process. The dough should be able to stick together when pressed between your fingers, but should also still be crumbly, like traditional pie crust.
Using clean hands or a flat spatula, press the crust into the pie dish with firm pressure.
Place all of the pie filling ingredients into a high speed blender and blend until perfectly smooth. If you do not have a high speed blender, simply use your food processor, but pulse the cashews a few times first before adding the other ingredients to help them blend faster. Depending on your machine, you may need to stop periodically and scrape down the sides to facilitate continued blending.
Pour the pie filling into the crust, using a spatula for leveling and smoothing.
Cover the pie and let it set in the freezer for 3 hours before serving, or overnight in the fridge. The coconut oil will solidify once cold, which will make the perfect texture for your pie filling.
To make the whipped cream, place all ingredients in a high speed blender and blend until smooth. Store in the freezer for 2 hours before serving, or overnight in the fridge. The coconut oil will solidify once cold, and will help the cream thicken and not be too runny.
Serve the pie from directly from the fridge. Or you can also serve it directly from freezer, so long as you allow 20 minutes of thaw time on the counter before eating.
The whipped cream and pie both keep in the fridge for 3-5 days, and in the freezer for 1-2 weeks. Enjoy!