Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ridiculously Healthy & Light Pumpkin Pie with Flaxseed Crust

Today's recipe comes just in time for Thanksgiving! I'll be making our Thanksgiving dinner again this year. And just like last year unfortunately, it will also be away from all my family and friends. Besides them, one of the things I miss most about home is just being able to step out onto my porch and breathe in the autumn air, the smell of pine trees and smokey backyard bonfires wrapping around me like an old, familiar blanket. Every year without fail, as soon as September rolls around I have this strong urge to PUMPKIN ALL THE THINGS. Like Pavlov's dogs, there's something about the crisp fall air that immediately makes me want to ravenously consume pumpkin yummies and drink hot pumpkin spiced lattes. Even though the smell of fall is absent here, my body is still wired to want pumpkin things around this time. And what better way to get my pumpkin fix than in the form of the traditional pumpkin pie? 

I've seen many gluten-free recipes that use nuts for the crust, and while I definitely agree that nut crusts are delicious, they're also very calorie dense. Flaxseeds are a great alternative in my opinion, especially if you are having digestive issues - for constipation, a tablespoon or two of flaxseeds will help that right along! Even though most brands tout the abundance of omega-3s in each serving, it seems the body is not very efficient at converting the non-useable ALA form into the useable forms of EHA and DPA (the level of efficiency seems to be slightly better in women, probably due to higher levels of estrogen). There are other concerns about flaxseed that I've read around the paleosphere as well. Still, I like to use flaxseed in special occasional treats such as this.  If you do use flaxseed, always buy them whole and raw, never ground, and store them in the refrigerator. They go rancid very quickly, so only grind them right before using. 

Many pumpkin pie recipes are also filled with sugar and dairy. The recipe on the back of Libby's pumpkin pie puree uses evaporated Carnation milk in addition to a ridiculous amount of sugar. I'd rather not slip into a diabetic coma, so I decided to come up with my own recipe for pumpkin pie using less sugar but still just as delicious. You can always sprinkle more honey on top if it turns out not sweet enough. In addition, I always taste my mixture and make sure it's to my liking before I pour it into the pan. I ain't scared of no raw eggs.

Pumpkin pie is really just a firm custard in a crust, and the basic recipe for a custard is eggs and milk with some sweetener to taste. I cut up a pumpkin and roasted the pieces, and I was able to save enough of them from going into my mouth to make some pumpkin filling, which ended up being about 200g worth of pumpkin. I made about 5 pies before deciding on the final recipe. Each time I didn't bother to measure anything except for the pumpkin, and every time the pie turned out great. You really can't mess this up!

A dollop of yogurt, cocoa powder and chocolate shavings make it look fancy-schmancy. 


What you'll need

For the crust:
  • 16 Tbsp / 1 cup whole raw flaxseed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp / 15g butter (you can also use a Tbsp of coconut oil)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp honey (can also use 1-2 tsp sugar)
For the pumpkin pie filling:
  • 220g / ~ 1 cup cooked pumpkin pieces, or pumpkin puree. I used roasted pumpkin pieces.
  • 1 large egg
  • 100ml / 1/2 cup canned coconut milk (can also use whole milk)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Optional: 1-3 Tbsp sugar / honey, depending on how sweet you prefer your pie.
  • Optional: 1 tsp potato starch for a firmer pie filling. I didn't use Libby's pumpkin puree but if you are, I would use the potato starch since I think the canned puree is more liquidy.
  • ~ 1 1/2 Tbsp of your pumpkin pie spice mix. If you don't have it ready made, you can use mine below. Honestly though, I usually don't have any premade nor do I bother measuring - I just throw dashes of spices in here and there and it always comes out delicious!
Pumpkin spice mix:
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/3 tsp ground cardamom (If you have some. Not necessary, but I love the flavor of cardamom!)
  • 1/4 tsp allspice


  1. Melt the butter and let it cool before whisking it with the egg. 
  2. Grind the flaxseeds, then mix it well with the cinnamon, egg and butter, and sugar / honey if you opt to. 
  3. Press the mixture into a 9" tart pan / quiche pan (I used HIC Porcelain Round Quiche Dish and had quite a bit of the mixture left over, which I later pressed into ramekins and made mini pies!).
  4. Bake at 170 C / 335 F for 8-10 minutes and keep an eye on it, until it is slightly browned and set. Don't overcook it! Let it cool.
  1. This is easy. Throw everything together in your blender (I used my Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth. If you don't want to use your blender and the pumpkin puree is smooth enough, you can whisk everything in by hand. 
  2. Pour the filling into your crust, and bake at 175 C / 350 F for 30-40 minutes until set. The middle should barely jiggle when shaken. If it starts browning on top during baking, place some aluminium foil loosely on top.
  3. Let cool, then serve. I've found that chilling it over night works best, but it tastes yummy when  warm too. 

Nutritional Breakdown
With flax seed crust, canned coconut milk and honey:

Per slice
Whole pie
5.5 g
44 g
6 g
48 g
7 g
56 g

This is also firm enough to make without the crust and eat it as a custard, which I have been doing for the past few weeks! If making it without the crust, the nutritional breakdown is as follows:

Per slice
Whole pie
2.3 g
18.4 g
2 g
16 g
5 g
40 g

Some additional notes:
- For a protein packed pie, replace the sugar with some vanilla whey protein. You might have to add a bit more milk if you do.
- If you add too much potato starch, the custard might end up almost bread-like. I've found that when I use whole pumpkin pieces, the pumpkin has enough starch to hold it together and I never need potato starch.
- You can use a pan / quiche dish larger than 9". If you do and you are afraid that the mixture isn't enough for your pie, you can add up to a cup more of pumpkin puree / pumpkin pieces and a bit more milk without affecting the overall recipe.
- I used a smaller oven, so baking times may vary! Keep an eye on your pie.


  1. Hi! I have been obsessing over your recipes and how creative you are with food! I absolutely love your blog! I hope you haven't given up on it! If you do more updates and pop out new recipes I will be more than happy to spread word about your blog everywhere!! :) looking forward/hoping to see new amazing recipes soon

    1. Thank you so much Rozalia, I really appreciate it! Things have been busy around here lately, but I am planning on updating with more recipes soon :)

  2. Hi, thanks a lot for your flax seed crust idea... I made another pie but with the same recipe as your for the crust and it rocks... thanks again

  3. Your posts are always gorgeous.I can’t wait to try this! Ive been looking for a pumpkin pie recipe.

  4. Going for it but with kefir infused and mango!

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