Even though fruits, veggies, and leafy greens should be the base of our diet, life happens and sometimes we need to have dessert. And if we do, let’s make it nutrient-dense!
Pumpkin is a very low calorie vegetable (actually technically a fruit) that is packed with antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, and zea-xanthin which can help prevent age-related macular disease. Pumpkin is also a rich source of B-vitamins such as folates, niacin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid and minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, and phosphorus. The high amount of phytonutrients in pumpkin have been shown to help prevent the risk of cancers, particularly mouth, lung, and colon cancer. Pumpkin also contains several anti-aging benefits and the antioxidants help to keep skin wrinkle-free and radiating a healthy glow. It also contains immune-boosting properties which can help the body stay strong and ward off common colds and flus that may be going around. Pumpkin is excellent way to replenish and restore the body after a workout as it is high in potassium which helps to restore the body’s balance of electrolytes after exercise and keeps muscles functioning at their best.
The benefits of coconut oil stem from the fact that it contains medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) as opposed to long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs) that are in butter and other animal products (saturated) and well as vegetable oils (unsaturated). When MCFAs enter the body they immediately go to the liver to be digested. MCFAs promote fat burning and cannot be stored in the body. This leads to less abdominal fat as well as decreased cholesterol synthesis in the liver. LCFAs need to be carried by a protein to travel around the bloodstream and be used by cells. If they are not used for energy they are stored as fat. However, LCFAs provide us with essential fatty acids while MCFAs do not. Coconut oil contains many antioxidants and can help lower our cholesterol. Coconut oil is not necessarily bad for our heart because of the medium-chain fatty acids. However, vegetable oils (corn, oil, etc.) do contain more of the healthy types of fats (poly and mono unsaturated) which is more beneficial to our heart, they also provide us with essential fatty acids. Coconut oil has a higher burning point, making it great for cooking. Overall, moderation and variety is key. I wouldn’t replace all of my cooking fats with one or the other, try mixing it up with some of both types!
This recipe uses coconut oil as its main source of fat. It gives the pie a subtle nutty sweetness that goes perfect with the pumpkin. It’s a great fall recipe or perfect for Thanksgiving! Impress your guests with a gluten free version of a favorite Thanksgiving dessert! Enjoy!
- Preheat the oven to 325 and grease a casserole dish with coconut oil (or line it with parchment paper). Drain the dates, and place all of the crust ingredients in a food processor. Process for a minute until it forms a thick and sticky mixture. Don’t overmix – you want the dates to be slightly chunky and not completely incorporated.
- Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish and spread evenly along the bottom with a spatula or press with your fingers. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean when gently inserted. Set aside to cool.
- Combine all of the filling ingredients, cold in a pot. Turn the heat on medium-low, and heat, stirring constantly, for 5-10 minutes. The mixture should liquefy and the gelatin should dissolve. If there are still some chunks after 10 minutes, transfer to a blender and blend for a few seconds to incorporate.
- Pour into the baking dish pan over the crust. Place in the refrigerator to set for at least 3 hours.
- Dollop with a whip topping if you desire…..or serve it with some coconut ice cream
Recipe adapted from Autoimmune Paleo