Archives for dessert

Pumpkin Pie

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I LOVE baking vegan foods. It allows you to be creative in the kitchen, forcing you to think outside the box. This pie was SO fun to create! Especially since the end result  = SUCCESS! (5 out of 5 taste testers agree!)

This recipe came about because of this Facebook post:

Let’s hear it! I want your feedback! What recipe have you always wanted as vegan and/or gluten-free that you can no longer eat? I’m trying to get ideas for my Dec. 21st blog post. I thought I’d check here first, to see what people want the most. 

I had 4 responses and thankfully two of them were already on the blog! (Vegan mac n’ cheese and Pad Thai). I had one request for pizzelles (which I’m still going to tackle) and one request for pumpkin pie! This pumpkin pie request was for no eggs, but I also know this person personally and know her kids have some other allergies as well. So this pie is VEGAN and NUT FREE. So, no dairy, no eggs, no coconut oil or milk. Challenge. Accepted!

Also, like all things on this blog, I try to make everything from scratch – because that’s what I enjoy the most and what I think tastes the best. But I understand there are people out there that don’t share that same passion, or have the time, so while this is a time consuming recipe as listed below – you can make it WAY less time consuming by utilizing the suggested shortcuts. However, I take no responsibility for the outcome. haha 😀



1 1/4 c. einkorn flour
1 TBSP organic sugar
1/4 tsp. Real salt
1/2 c. very cold, or frozen vegan margarine
3 TBSP. cold water
extra flour for dusting countertop and crust during rolling
*You can also buy your favorite store bought crusts and save a ton of time.

You will need:

Rolling pin
Pastry cutter/spatula
9″ pie dish

Pumpkin Pie Filling*,**

1 c. cooked, pureed pumpkin (*you can try canned, too)
1/2 c. organic packed brown sugar
1 TBSP. ground chia seeds
1 TBSP. ground flax seeds
1/3 c. applesauce, no sugar added
**1 1/2 c. oat and/or flax milk (You can buy from the store, or make your own to get a thicker consistency)
→ 1 1/2 c. water + 1 c. quick cooking oats + 1 TBSP. flax seeds pureed in the blender and strained with a milk bag
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350°F.

For the homemade crust:

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir to combine. Grate all the vegan margarine on a cheese grater. Add to the flour mixture, using a fork to cut flour and margarine together. Note, it will be very crumbly and dry. Add the ice cold water at this point and combine with the fork more. You don’t want the margarine to be thourougly combined with the flour, since you will be working the dough more as you roll it out. So it is preferred to see chunks of margarine within the dough. Shape into a ball.

Dust the countertop heavily with flour, place dough ball in center of floured surface. Pat down with your hands, being careful to maintain a circular shape. Flip dough over and add a little more flour to counter surface as well as dough surface. Using a rolling pin, carefully roll out dough, starting at the center and moving out and lifting up, following a clockwise pattern. This will help to maintain a circular shape. Pick dough up and flip over again, adding more flour to the countertop and top of dough. If you just keep it on one side the whole time, it will be very hard to remove from the countertop when finished. You want the dough to be 1/4″ thick.

Roll with a rolling pin until it’s large enough to cover the pie pan.

Once the dough is large enough to fit over your 9″ pie dish, with about an inch or more overhang, you are ready to remove it from the counter. Using a pastry cutter/spatula, lift up the edges and ensure the whole dough circle is free moving, and not stuck to the counter. Fold in half to transport it to the pie pan, this will help reinforce it so it won’t crack. Center the fold on the center of the pie pan. Unfold dough. Starting in the center, gently pat down dough to ensure it is fitted to all edges and bends of the pie pan.

The overhang should be folded up on itself, on the lip of the pie pan, and pressed into itself and the dough. This is very important, because it will be the lip of the crust, which helps to hold the filling in place and ensure the crust doesn’t melt down the sides of the pie pan during the pre-bake.

Pre-Bake the pie crust:

Pre-bake the pie crust to ensure you don’t have a mushy crust on your final pie. Using a fork, poke the crust bottom 6 times to create ventilation. This will prevent the crust from bubbling up during the pre-bake. Cover the entire pie crust with parchment paper and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. While the crust is baking, you can prepare the filling. Below is a slideshow to help along with the pie crust assembly.

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For the pie filling:

If you are using fresh pumpkin, you can bake it by cutting the pumpkin in half, scraping out the seeds and placing on a baking sheet, hallowed side down, in a half inch of water. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes, or until a fork can pierce through the outer skin. Scoop out the pumpkin flesh, and measure 1 cup. The remaining can be frozen for later use. For an extra creamy pumpkin filling, you can puree this 1 cup in your blender. You can also try using pumpkin puree, but I did not try that with this recipe so I’m not sure if it would change the consistency or not.

Now, for the flax and oat milk, I made my own because again, I don’t like any of the store bought milks because they always have additives and preservatives. Plus, when you make your own you can control the consistency. For this milk, I used 1 1/2 c. water + 1 c. quick cooking oats + 1 TBSP. flax seeds, and used a nut milk bag to strain out all the pulp. (You can watch my video on How to Make Homemade Almond Milk here, if you haven’t done it before.) Again, if you just buy store bought, you will save a ton of time on this step.

Using a coffee grinder, grind a little less than 1 TBSP whole flax seed, to make 1 TBSP ground flax. Do the same for the ground chia, starting with less than 1 TBSP whole chia, to create 1 TBSP ground chia. Add to the applesauce, stir and set aside. Measure out all your pie filling spices and set aside.

In your blender, combine all the pie filling ingredients and puree until silky smooth. Pour into your pre-baked pie crust. Below is another slideshow step-by-step which helps provide visuals for the pie filling instructions.

Pour into pre-baked pie shell.

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Bake pie at 350°F for 40-50 minutes. Keep a close eye on the crust so it doesn’t get too brown and make sure the center of the pie is starting to firm up. It’s ok if it isn’t as firm as the outer edges, you just want it to stay together when it’s cut later. We let ours cool overnight and ate slices in the morning with coffee for a pre-breakfast taste test. My parents came over and we were all thoroughly surprised at how yummy this pumpkin pie was, especially given all the restrictions.

My biggest concern was that the consistency would be strange – but it was actually better in some ways than a traditional pumpkin pie. I really hope my friend and her family get a chance to try this pie recipe AND can all enjoy it together as a family, worry-free of any allergy concerns. <3

Looking for some healthy dessert ideas, in printable format? If you subscribe to the blog via this link, you will get 3 healthy, plant-based dessert recipes.

What is your FAVORITE pie?

Coco-Walnut Power Brownies

One night after dinner, Mr. Zucchini Runner looked at me and asked, “What’s for dessert?” 🙂 We didn’t have anything – it needed to be created – so that’s exactly what I did. After staring at the pantry and analyzing the ingredients we had, I landed on brownies. As I was mixing up the batter, trying to keep it as healthy as I could, the batter was not giving me a promising taste. Gluten free flours never taste good raw however, so I was still hopeful that the baking process would make these magical. (Keep in mind, there is spelt flour too which contains gluten – it was the garbanzo bean flour that didn’t taste great.)

Mr. Zucchini Runner took the first bite after a painful 30 minutes of cooling from the oven, and made a very stoic face. I was nervous. Then he started to smirk and eventually said, “These are absolutely incredible.” I quickly cut myself a piece and was relieved to find out they did taste exceptionally delicious, especially considering I didn’t follow a recipe at all. It was a baking miracle… at least for me. I was pretty happy, but still not certain they were blog worthy. So, of course we needed more opinions.

photo 1

After dropping off two lonely brownies to Mr. Zucchini Runner’s brother and sister-in-law, during a Thanksgiving evening visit, I was anxiously awaiting their reaction the next morning. The text I received SEALED THE DEAL. I believe one of the adjectives she used was divine – and this gal KNOWS her sweets, as co-owner of Dixie Lou Cupcakes! So, enough talking these things up, I don’t want it to be detrimental to them!

I will say the best part, is they can be slightly modified and double as a power brownie, used before or after a workout. Don’t worry, I’ll explain more later.

Base recipe:
1/2 c. garbanzo bean flour + 1/2 c. spelt flour (You can also use 1 c. all-purpose gluten free baking flour)
1/2 c. cocoa powder
2 dashes pink Himalayan sea salt

3 tbsp. chia seeds + 1 c. water (let set for at least 5 minutes)

Melt together (microwave or stovetop):
1/4 c. coconut oil, organic, virgin, unrefined is best (see valuable facts about this oil below the slideshow)
1/2 c. maple syrup

1 tea. vanilla extract

Optional add-ins:
1/3 c. dried unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
1  1/2 c. vegan dark chocolate chips, divided into 1 and 1/2 cups

Combine the base recipe in a bowl and set aside. Add chia seeds to 1 cup water and set aside. Heat the coconut oil and maple syrup in the microwave. Once coconut oil is melted, add vanilla extract to mixture. Add chia seeds and water once the seeds have their gel coating; this takes about 5 minutes. Stir well before adding to the base recipe. Stir well to combine. At this point, if you want power brownies just place this mixture into an 8″x8″ pan sprayed with coconut oil. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes, or until the center is cooked through. The good news is, they don’t have any raw eggs or unstable ingredients, so if they are a little undercooked, they will still be amazing.

If you want a true brownie, before adding them to the pan, add coconut flakes, 1/2 c. choc chips and walnuts to the batter and stir to combine. Pour into 8″x8″ pan sprayed with coconut oil. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top and return to oven for 2-4 minutes to help melt the chips. Remove and use a rubber spatula to spread chips into a smooth frosting. Sprinkle with coconut flakes and/or additional nuts if desired. Allow to cool for 60 minutes before cutting, to allow the chocolate topping to harden up. You can place in the fridge to speed up the process, or just cut into them after 30 minutes like Mr. Zucchini Runner did.

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*Fun facts about coconut oil:
– medium-chain fat, which means is will not store easily in your body, but instead will get burned immediately for energy (which is why this is good for a workout… or recovery after as refueling)
– because it’s a medium-chain fat, it helps you burn more of your stored fats – otherwise known as weight loss and increasing your metabolism
– it doesn’t raise LDL (bad) cholesterol, but will increase HDL (good) cholesterol
– has a similar power of omega-3s to inhibit platelet stickiness and therefore potentially prevent blood clots and stroke
– you can use it as a face moisturizer and lotion (I’ve been trying this for about a week with great success – and I have oily skin!)
These facts were pulled directly from the book The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey, CDC. I’m reading this book currently for my Holistic Nutrition Certification – there is so much more that coconut oil can do! I encourage you to do some of your own research to learn more about this miracle oil.