For the past two years I’ve been on a health(ier) kick researching and experimenting with natural recipes, raw foods, and vegan cooking. I’ve been drinking green smoothies almost every morning and have been trying to eat more plant-based foods whenever possible. I have not become a vegetarian or a vegan; nor have I adopted the macrobiotic, raw, or plant based diets. I have simply been more open to experimenting with recipes I would never have looked twice before. We have always eaten healthy foods at home, but ever since watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, my husband and I have been trying to eat more vegetables and plant-based foods. I have incorporated ingredients I had never tasted or heard of before, and I love this new discovery.
Taste should never be compromised.
To me, how food tastes is just as important as how nutritious it is, because if something is super healthy but tastes bad, you won’t eat it anyway. So might as well make nutritious food taste good for you to continue eating it. However, keep in mind that your taste buds will eventually adapt to certain flavors, so don’t be quick to discard certain healthy ingredients or “power foods” based on taste alone.
About this recipe
Last Thanksgiving, I wanted to make a traditional pecan pie; one of the highlights of Thanksgiving for me. But when I read the many recipes and saw the list of ingredients, and saw how much sugar, corn syrup, and butter they require, suddenly I didn’t want to make the pie anymore, or ever eat it again. Fortunately, I found this recipe on Food52 that is a raw, vegan and no bake pecan pie that will make you smile. All the ingredients listed are healthy and naturally sweet. If you follow a raw or vegan diet, I guarantee you already have these ingredients in your pantry. If you don’t, I highly recommend having them for healthy snacking. The natural sweetener in this recipe is the Medjool date, which is considered the best and tastiest dates from the Middle East and North Africa. They are typically larger, fleshier, and sweeter than other dates. I substituted a mix of almonds and cashews instead of walnuts for the crust, but any combination of nuts works well. There’s no need to bake the crust or the pie itself, and it can be made ahead of time. I served it last year for Thanksgiving dessert and it was a success, so I’m repeating it this year. The best part is that the filling tastes just like the traditional pie (without the butter, sugar and corn syrup) and the crust is sweetly addictive on its own. You can leave this pie in your fridge for days… but I’m sure it won’t last that long. Likewise, you can make this recipe into pecan bars, or substitute the pecans for other nuts such as walnut.
Healthy and Natural Pecan Pie
Recipe adapted from Food 52: Raw Vegan Pecan Pie
Prep time: 1 hour to soak dates, 10-15 min to prepare crust and filling, 2 hours to chill pie
Cook time: None
Ingredients – Crust
- 3/4 cup (90g) raw pecans*
- 1/3 cup (60g) raw almonds* and 1/2 cup (60g) raw cashews*
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup (20g) shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup (200g) pitted Medjool dates, packed
Ingredients – Pie Filling
- 1 ¼ cups (250g) Medjool dates, pitted, tightly packed and soaked in warm water for at least an hour
- 1/2 cup (60g) raw pecans* for the filling (plus 3/4 cup (90g) raw pecans* to decorate)
- 1/4 cup (60ml) melted coconut oil (organic, virgin, cold-pressed and unrefined)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Pinch sea salt
* Note: pecans, almonds, and cashews need to be raw which means they are not roasted or salted
For the crust:
- Put the pecans and any combination of nuts you choose (walnuts, almonds, cashews), shredded coconut, and salt in a food processor and grind (until coarsely ground, consistency of wet sand) Note: Careful not to over grind or the mixture may turn to nut butter! Use the pulse button of your food processor.
- Add the pitted dates and continue processing until the mixture begins to stick together.
- Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of a pie plate or springform pan.
For the pie filling:
- Drain the soaked dates (reserve the water). Transfer to a high speed blender or food processor. Add the 1/2 cup (60g) of pecans, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and approximately 1/4 cup (60ml) of the water from soaking the dates. Blend until mixture is smooth.
- Pour the filling over the crust. Smooth the top and place in the fridge for at least 2-4 hours to set.
- Decorate with 3/4 cup (90g) of pecans and continue to chill until ready to serve.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and I already know you won’t miss the traditional pecan pie anymore, I know I don’t! :-) Happy Thanksgiving!!!