Gluten free, Sugar free, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

no bake apple pie
Two years ago at our Yoga Therapy Training, I served a gluten free, dairy free, no sugar added, homemade apple pie. The recipe was requested. It has taken me these years, but at long last, here, finally, it is.

Unfortunately, when I first came to write it up last month I couldn’t find the recipe. Fortunately, that meant I had to try it a few times before it came right again, and that meant a lot of apple pies this autumn. Yes, we are blessed!

raw-gf-apple-pie

The saying An apple a day… is truer than everApples support your liver to help your body process and releases toxins in our air, water, food – more important now than ever. Apples help clear your colon, also more important than ever – as everyone, even mother earth, needs extra support now in eliminating waste.

Apples are good for your bloodeyes, skin. Apples are cool, so they are Pitta-reducing and anti-inflammatory. They are sweet, so they are Vata-reducing and tonifying – especially when sliced, tossed in fresh lemon juice, and sprinkled with cinnamon, as in this recipe. They are also light enough to be good for Kapha, reducing blood sugar and helping you feel full with less, thanks to so much fabulous fiber.

That makes apples tridoshic, meaning they love everyone, so everyone gets to enjoy this super food, super “free”, super pie!

sweetie apple

Be sure you use your favorite apple. Since they aren’t going to be cooked, they will taste in the pie the way they taste in your hand when you eat straight from the fruit basket. I used “Sweetie” apples, but anything fresh, crunchy and sweet will be good.

For the decoration, I wanted some red so used a Fuji, but a crispy green apple would give a lovely color, too.

apple pecan pie

I added a bit of almond butter to make it an extra high protein, high fiber, high nutritional meal I could have for breakfast, or for the kids as a midday snack. The almond butter makes the filling a bit more caramel-y, but if you feel that is too nutty for you, leave it out. It’s still great.

Also, if you are allergic to nuts you can skip the pecans and just make a crust of dates. Yes, just dates. Or, if it’s safe for you, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, and/or toasted sunflower seeds,

If you want it fully raw, skip the pecan toasting. I’ve done it that way and it works, too. But toasting draws the divine essence from pecans, giving golden, nutty grounding to the crisp, sunburst of the apple.

glutenfree apple pie

Easy, No Bake Apple Pecan Pie

Pie Crust:

2 c Pecans
10 Medjool Dates, pits removed
1 T Coconut Oil
A hearty pinch of Himalayan Salt
A pinch of Cinnamon
A dash Nutmeg

Pie Filling:

6 Apples
6 Medjool Dates, seeds removed
1 Lemon, juiced
2 T Almond Butter, optional
1 T Raw Honey, also optional
1 hefty pinch of Himalayan Salt
1 hearty dash of Cinnamon
1 light dusting of Cardamom, optional
1/4 c Chia Seeds

To make the crust:

Toast the pecans until they are very lightly brown. Put them aside. In your electric blender, macerate the dates. Add the coconut oil and spices and mix. Toss in the pecans and pulse lightly three times, just enough to break up and integrate with the dates, but careful not to turn this into pecan butter.

Press the crust into a pie dish (mine is 9.5″). Cover with a plate facing up so the slight bowl of the plate presses into the crust and so that the crust is entirely covered. Place in your refrigerator if you have a few hours before filling, or into your freezer if you don’t.

To make the filling: 

Again, start with the dates. Blend on high speed until they are completely mashed. Juice your lemon and set aside 1 tablespoon for later. Add the lemon juice, almond butter honey and spices to the dates and blend well. Slice your apples and add. Blend until the mixture starts resembling a very chunky apple sauce. Add the chia seeds. Pulse a few times to blend thoroughly. Pour this mixture onto the pie crust. Spread evenly. Cover (I turn the plate that was sitting on the crust over and use to cover) and place in your fridge. Allow to set at least four hours.

apple pie

Garnish: 

This doesn’t need a topping, but if you like the apple rose on top, just core an apple and slice very, very thin. To keep the slices from browning as you slice, put each slice as you cut into a bowl with that remaining lemon juice. Once all the pieces are cut and in the bowl, sprinkle a dash or two of cinnamon and toss. The set each piece, one by one, in an overlapping circle around the outer edge. Continue making smaller circles towards the middle until the pie is covered. Then set a pecan or a few thin slices of lemon rind in the very center.

This is so simple and so quick: apart from the 4 hours in the refrigerator to let the chia seeds do their work, you can make this start-to-finish in 15 minutes.

apple pie

I guess you could call this a trick on a treat, because it seems like dessert, yet it’s delightfully good for you. Let me know if you try it, and any variations you enjoy.

being silly at the bay: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic
being silly at the bay :: protecting from the sun :: napping after a yoga therapy training picnic

What sort of tricks or treats are you doing this hallowed e’en?

Flourless Chocolate Cake

On Sunday, Celeste came over for a class we called “Learn to Love the Kitchen.” Given she had just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I wanted to include something really delicious and easy to make so she wouldn’t feel it’s a diagnosis of labor and deprivation.

Sunday with Celeste
Sunday with Celeste

Celeste arrived after a morning of writing. Not very purposeful writing, and not even very useful, but full of flow and ease, and a healing making right with the world kind of sweetness.

You see, I was taught to write in a stream of consciousness: “Don’t think, just write.” “Put pen in hand and begin.” “Let it flow.” “Be uncensored.” “Afterwards,” they would say, “you can go back and edit.”

This way of writing has been like therapy for me. It helps keep me alive to the river of life. It restores my faith that all is flowing towards some ocean, symbolic in Yoga for expanded consciousness, the cosmic mind, our oneness.

It’s one reason I put this quote from Norman MacLean on my personal website ~ “But when I am alone in the half light of the canyon all existence seems to fade to a being with my soul and memories… Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.”

Nutella Mousse

“Under the rocks are the words…” he goes on. And it feels that way to me. Writing helps dislodge the rocks, underneath which are buried the words. There, a river runs through, and everything fades to a being with my soul and the memories…

Hazelnut Mousse

Sometimes I think I write for my life. To unfurl the coiled and sometimes twisted emotion, energy, experience and restore balance, perspective, peace.

At least that is how it began. Now I write to cultivate a divine essence, or a relationship with that. It’s a relationship that includes food, Nature,  you, even my own spirit ~ elated as it is to now be so free.

Homemade, healthy Nutella

In his novel, A River Runs Through, MacLean writes: “My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him, all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation – came by grace; and grace comes by art; and art does not come easy.” 

Which makes me think not only of writing, and blogging, but of the kitchen, and all that we do to maintain health. Maybe our work is our art, and even our diagnoses can be seen not as labor and deprivation, but as acts of art leading us towards grace.

Nutella Pie_4
The art of our labor came for Celeste and for me, in this Flourless Chocolate Cake, which I affectionately call, “Nutella Pie.” It is simple, with only about 5 main ingredients. It is also messy. MacLean promises all good things – trout as well as eternal salvation… and that must include chocolate cake, don’t you think?

This little delight is made with hazelnuts, almond milk, dates, eggs, and some spices. It is not made with sugar, flour, dairy, or any junk. I ran the nutritional data on it and it seems to have about 150 calories per slice, plus a lot of vitamins, minerals, fiber and good-for-you love. I served it with a Coconut Cream Coulis and strawberries, but raspberries would be pretty, too.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Hazelnuts, 1 cup
Dates, 6 large, pitted and chopped
Almond Milk, 1 cup
Vanilla Extract, 1 Tablespoon
Coconut Oil, 1 Tablespoon
Eggs, 3 large
Pink Salt, a pinch or two
Raw Cacao, 1/4 cup scant
Cinnamon, 1 big shake
Cardamom, pinch
Maple Syrup, 1-2 Tablespoons, (optional)

Set your oven to 335F. Pit and chop the Dates, then soak them in pure water for at least ten minutes. Toast the Hazelnuts lightly (about 3-4 minutes in a toaster). Put the nuts in a Vitamix or electric blender and grind until it is a powder. Drain the dates and add to the hazelnuts, along with the Almond Milk, Vanilla and Coconut Oil. Blend until it is creamy. You might have to stop, stir, and blend a few times to get it to really come together.

In a small bowl whip the eggs with the salt. Add to the hazelnut mixture and blend some more. Once that is creamy, add the cacao, spices, and maple syrup.

Grease a 9″ round pan, or muffin tins,with a dab of coconut oil. Pour in the mixture and smooth with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 2o-25 minutes for the cake/pie, or 15-20 minutes for the minis.

Serve warm or at room temperature with plain yogurt or this Coconut Coulis.

Coconut Coulis

Coconut Milk, 1 can
Raw Honey, 1 Tablespoon

Chill the Coconut Milk for at least one hour. Spoon it into a bowl and blend with the Honey. Whip it until it gets a bit fluffy and thickens. Drizzle over your Chocolate Cake. It is also wonderful with fresh fruit.

Nutella Pie_1

“Study after study shows that cocoa flavanols can disarm cell damaging free radicals, preserve cell membranes, protect DNA, prevent the formation of artery clogging plaque, improve blood flow to the heart, lower high blood pressure, and prevent blood clots that can cause a heart attack or stroke. ~ Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD

I hope you enjoy this delicious reminder that food is a love story, and that Mother Earth is always loving you!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Namaste ~

The 21 Day Challenge


We had our annual Spring Detox Workshop on Sunday, the day of the Spring Equinox, which is always a joyful way to begin the season. It is like a celebration of emergence ~ from the darkness of winter, from the deep interior, from the cave of the heart ~ into a world of light, to a communal dance in a human garden of blossoming radiance.

After circulating, stretching, compressing and twisting the body for two hours we settled into a deep restorative Yoga Nidra to extend the detoxification to mind and heart. By the end, thirty of us committed to keeping our minds pure by keeping the television off, and to keeping the heart alive by spending more time in nature.


We also committed to the annual Spring Detox 21 Day Challenge, which I have posted here. It is a simple plan for eating clean, natural, seasonal foods that help the body eliminate winter’s accumulation. We love company so if you would like to join us, please do. Just click the “Like” button below, or email me to let us know you are in.

Lately, with all the health-store, take-home boxes of Detox, many people tell me they are following a plan they bought. While I am sure that is helpful, I want to remind you that it can be easier. Spring is the time for internal cleansing. Nature knows that, and so provides at this time all the foods that best support detoxification. If you eat the harvest from your own, your neighbor’s, or your local farmer’s garden, you will naturally have a comfortable, nourishing cleanse.

Radishes and Ranunculi at the Farmer’s Market

It is hard to make money off that simple, potent truth, so it is not advertised. But liberating ourselves from commercially driven habits makes this Detox all the more empowering, and helps cleanse the mind and our beliefs, which is the beginning point for all true, enduring health.

So, let your food be your medicine. Allow nature to take care of you. After all, you are nature. Eating according to nature’s seasonal bounty stimulates the natural intelligence in you to adapt, heal, nourish, cleanse, revitalize and really come alive in this season of joy.

The 21 Day Challenge

Before you begin ~ it is always best to consult with an Ayurvedic professional to tailor your diet to your particular constitution. If you have a chronic illness, are very thin, or feel depleted, please consult your health-care professional before beginning any cleanse.

Ginger Tea

Drink warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning and throughout the day to increase cellular detoxification.

Eat fresh nourishing foods, including whole grains, beans and vegetables lightly cooked with small amounts of healthy oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, or ghee.

To stoke your digestive fire, sip ginger tea with your meals and spice your food with warm pungent herbs such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, basil, oregano, pepper, and chilies.

Check out your local Farmer’s Market to see what is in season now. This is a great time to explore the immense variety of Spring vegetables and learn  delicious ways they can be prepared.

While at the Market, load up on everything green as Spring Greens are the most detoxifying of foods. Greens are bitter, astringent and, those that ripen in Spring are often fiery, pungent. They are easy and quick to cook and colorfully complement a bowl of beans for a slimming, yet strengthening, protein-packed, power lunch.

Sprouted Beans & Sunflower Greens at the Farmer’s Market yesterday

Include grains with your meals but lighten up with cereals like barley, millet (as in couscous), buckwheat groats, rye and quinoa. Barley is an excellent cleanser of the digestive system and urinary tract. Buckwheat is considered a “light grain,” but is actually a fruit, with more protein than any of the other “grains.”

A piece of fruit, warmed or at room temperature, makes a great snack. The citrus fruits now in season have enough sour taste to stoke the metabolic fires, while their bitter peel are loaded with anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory zest. You can grate the rind and whisk it into salad dressings or sprinkle over cooked greens.

Be sure to eat fruit on its own – one type at a time, an hour away from meals. Otherwise it ferments in the gut, jamming digestion and increasing the toxic load. On the other hand, cooked fruit, such as a Spiced Citrus Compote that marries the fruits of Spring, is easy on digestion, and even stimulates elimination in the morning. Cooking fresh fruit into your grains for breakfast, with a dash of cinnamon or cardamom, is a powerful, and delicious, way to start the day.

Spiced Citrus Compote with White Cardamom

Avoid meat, sugar, fried, processed, canned, frozen and microwaved foods. Reduce your intake of dairy products and heavy grains such as wheat, oats, rice. These foods decrease the metabolic fire, slow digestion and clog the circulatory channels.

Herbs

Aloe Juice: Aloe encourages elimination so drink half a glass first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It is a great Spring tonic for its deep tissue cleanse, liver support and cellular rejuvenation.

Tulsi’s Spring Blossom

Tulsi: For congestion, heaviness, brain fog and the like, drink a cup of warm Tulsi Tea every day. I love Organic India not only for the quality of their teas, but also for the integrity and charitable nature of the company.

Dandelion: For liver detoxification drink Detox Tea in the evenings.  I love this tea for its copious amounts of dandelion root and other bitter herbs that somehow still tastes sweet, not to mention comforting.

Triphala: Triphala reduces Ama in the body restoring balance and optimal physiology. Because it strengthens the colon it is often used to encourage regularity. Take 2 tablets in the evening before bed. If there is Ama, Triphala can give detox reactions, in which case, reduce to one tablet only for a week and then resume the two daily.

21 Day Challenge Meal Suggestions

These are just ideas, not a fixed menu. Be playful. Work with what you find at the market. Get creative with color, texture, tastes and spices. Dance in the kitchen. Love your food. It tastes better that way.

Breakfast

Blooming Buckwheat

A porridge made of a light grain such as quinoa, buckwheat or barley. I love Bob’s Red Mill for warm breakfast cereals. This recipe on their website for Barley Hash looks great and has all the perfect ingredients for a Spring season start to the day.

Home-made Chapati with wheat and barley flour, topped with honey and cinnamon.

1/2 cup of granola with warm milk.

Lunch

A Feast of Seasonal Greens, like asparagus, artichokes, mustard greens, avocado, and sprouts of every kind, with seasonal color like radishes.

A gorgeous medley of steamed, stewed or sautéed vegetables with tofu or paneer and a light grain such as quinoa.

A plate of Beans and Greens, such as Pinto Beans with Kale.

Udon: Buckwheat Noodles with Vegetables & Miso

Dinner

Barley Soup, Miso Soup, Green Vegetable Soup, Lentil and Spinach Soup, Whole Bean Chile, Kichari

Snacks

Puffed rice, rice cakes with honey and cinnamon, collard greens rolled with hummus & red pepper, a piece of fresh fruit, sprouted bread toasted with honey and cinnamon, a  small handful of seeds (sunflower or pumpkin), popcorn.

Evening: “Detox” or Tulsi Tea.

~~~

While Spring Cleaning, focus on what is positive in your life. Raise yourself up, feed your mind, elevate your spirit with inspiring activities, and allow yourself to enjoy the changes. Don’t forget you have amazing power.  Allow yourself to rise up and blossom this Springtime. Radiate your Beauty. Let yourself shine!

My next “Ayurvedic Nutrition and Cooking Class,” on April 3rd, is devoted to Detoxification. You will find all the information here ~ Spring Detox: A Class on Ayurvedic Nutrition & Cooking