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No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

24 Nov

I was on a mission this weekend. A mission to create a dreamy, creamy, no-sugar added pumpkin pie. I have been dreaming up this pie for a couple weeks now.



The hubs was traveling and I decided to dedicate my weekend to making my dream a reality.




Cold weather in the Mitten = me wanting to crank on my oven, bust out the sugar, butter, and eggs and get my groove on in the kitchen. While this is mentally and emotionally comforting, physically, it doesn’t do the body good.

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I’m all about moderation in the food we eat. When the temperatures drop, I crave comfort food. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the warm comfort  of my Paper Bag Apple Pie, slathering some butter on my Maple-Thyme Parmesan Biscuits, or indulging in some Toasted Oatmeal Scones…once in a while. Usually the moderation part comes easily for me but when the wind chills plummet to below zero and the snow piles a foot high before Thanksgiving? I find balance in my diet a lot harder to achieve. I feel like us midwesterners deserve these foods. We deserve the comfort, the aroma, the melt-in-your-mouth goodness of these treats.


Since this winter looks like it is going to be a long one, I have decided that I should start tweaking some of the comfort foods I make so they are a little friendlier on the waist-line.

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been focusing on cutting back sugar in my cooking/baking. Sometimes it’s a total success, as it was with this pumpkin pie and sometimes it’s a total failure, as in the time I tried to cut the sugar by half in a brownie recipe and we were basically gnawing on cardboard. You win some and you lose some.  Luckily, I won some with this pumpkin pie and you will, too!

No-Sugar Added Pumpkin Pie

Serves 8

Note: It’s important to keep an eye on the edges of your crust as this pie bakes. As you can tell from my photographs, I got distracted and my crust got a little burnt. Use tin foil folded over the edges of your pie to prevent them from burning while your pie finishes baking. 

For the Crust:

1 1/4 cups pecan halves

1/2 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 teaspoon salt

11 Medjool dates, pitted

1 tablespoon vanilla

For the Pie Filling

11 Medjool dates, pitted and soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/16 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/8 teaspoon cloves

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Grease a pie plate with coconut oil. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse pecans, flaxseed, and salt together until it forms a fine meal. Add the dates and vanilla and pulse until combined.

3. Firmly press the crust into a greased pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

4. Add all of the pie filling ingredients into a high speed blender. Turn blender on lowest setting and quickly increase to high. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

5. Pour pie filling into crust. Smooth the filling using an offset spatula. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow pie to set out for 3 hours before serving.



Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie

16 Nov

The older I get, the more I realize I have in common with my grandma. My mom’s mom loved spending time in the kitchen. We would go to her house for dinner and have a simple dinner of chicken, green beans, and mashed potatoes that she had spent hours in the kitchen working on…and it was delicious. I have vivid memories of her enjoying the task of meticulously chopping vegetables for a beautiful mixed greens salad. She would make popcorn on the stove with just the right amount of oil and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. And I wonder where I get my love of being in the kitchen from?

The same can be said for my great aunt (my grandma’s sister). It’s a tradition this time of year to make Aunt Lucy’s pumpkin pie.


With the slightest variations from the recipe of the back of Libby’s canned pumpkin, Aunt Lucy has made this pie is a highlight of Thanksgiving for me. The recipes has been passed down on an old index card with specific directions such as “stir ingredients 100 times with a wooden spoon”, “use 1 and 3/4 can Libby’s canned pumpkin”. I tweaked her recipe slightly to make it just a tad healthier. Don’t worry, I maintained the important parts and still mix it 100 times with a wooden spoon 🙂

Enjoy leftovers (if there are any) the next day for breakfast with this recipe .

Lightened Up Pumpkin Pie

Makes 1 pie

1 pie crust (I like Pillsbury if I want to save time and use a store-bought crust)

1 egg and 2 egg whites, slightly beaten

1 3/4 can Libby pumpkin

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp cloves
1 1/2 cup fat free evaporated milk
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Put all ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well with wooden spoon 100 times.
2. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Allow pie to cool completely before serving.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

9 Nov



Meet oatmeal


And create the most delicious and somewhat nutritious breakfast ever had.


This is the perfect use for leftover pie that you have after Thanksgiving. As Americans, we have officially entered the eating frenzy.  Starting on October 31st and sometimes lasting all the way until February 14th (think more chocolate, another fancy dinner). I am a firm believer in enjoying the moment and embracing each holiday and the food that comes with it. I am not, however, a firm believer in indulging day after day with the excuse of “it’s the holidays”. So, what to do when you have all those yummy leftovers, especially pumpkin pie.

If you really think about it, pumpkin pie is a healthier dessert option on Turkey Day. Pumpkin is loaded with nutrients (think vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber) and is pretty low in calories. It’s the sugar, egg, and high fat dairy that we add to it and the buttery crust that we put it in that turn it into a splurge.

With a few tweaks, your pumpkin pie can turn into a healthy and delicious breakfast. Start with a lower fat pumpkin pie recipe (recipe coming soon), scrape out the filling and add it to a steaming hot bowl of oatmeal made with unsweetened almond milk, throw in a heaping tablespoon of flaxseed meal, and sprinkle with a few chopped pecans, and sit back and “indulge” in a healthy breakfast as you rehash the events from the wonderful meal the night before with your family.

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Makes 1 serving

1/2 cup rolled oats (quick cooking or old-fashioned)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

1 slice pumpkin pie, filling only

1 teaspoon chopped pecans

Combine the flaxseed, oats, and almond milk. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes until cooked. Add pumpkin pie filling, sprinkle with chopped pecans, pour a cup of coffee, and enjoy 🙂


Paper Bag Apple Pie

24 Mar

You may be wondering why I decided to make an apple pie in March. Isn’t apple pie something that’s made when apples are at their peak in the fall? Yes.


I chose to make an apple pie in March to honor the memory of my grandpa. I never had the opportunity to know him because he was taken at far too young of an age, but I know that he was a one of a kind guy. He was a hard worker who owned an apple orchard, a devoted husband to my wonderful grandma, and a loving dad to my amazing mom. Grandpa George would have been 100 years old today! That milestone deserves something special. Something akin to making the world’s best apple pie! The apple orchard has since been turned into housing developments but the cider mill remains under new ownership and grandpa George’s memory lives on.


So let’s talk about the world’s best apple pie. It’s baked in a paper bag. I’m not sure exactly what the paper bag does to it, but it’s something good. It is unlike any apple pie I’ve ever tasted.

The pie starts with a delicious flaky bottom crust.


The crust is then filled with lightly sweetened apples.

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The topping is created by dolloping a combination of butter, sugar, and flour over top.

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Place the whole thing in a paper bag, place it on a cookie sheet (this is a VERY important step), stick it in the oven and let it do its thing.



While the memory of grandpa George is something that lives on every day, today I’m making it extra sweet.


The Crust (note: this makes enough for two single crust pies, freeze half for later)

2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

6-8 tablespoons ice water

The Filling

4-5 granny smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

The Topping

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cold

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

For the crust: Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Sprinkle the butter pieces over dry ingredients. Pulse until mixture resembles the size of lima beans. Add 6 tablespoons of the ice water to the mixture. Pulse just until mixture begins to form a ball. Gradually add additional water if necessary. Turn dough out onto a lightly flour surface. Form dough into a ball. Divide dough in half. Gently press each half into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour before rolling out.

Place oven rack at the lower third of the oven (you need enough room so the paper bag doesn’t touch the top of the oven while it bakes). Preheat oven to 420 degrees.

Place all of the filling ingredients in a large bowl and toss to combine.

Remove pie dough from refrigerator and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough to fit a 10-inch pie pan. Crimp edges. Place filling ingredients into pie crust.

Combine all of the topping ingredients in a medium bowl. Using a fork or your fingers, press the flour and sugar into the butter. Evenly spread topping over the filling. It is ok if the entire top isn’t covered, the topping spreads as the butter melts.

Place pie inside of a paper bag and seal shut with staples or paper clips. PLACE PAPER BAG ON A COOKIE SHEET. Bake for 1 hour. Remove pie from paper bag. Allow pie to cool completely before enjoying.

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