This month’s featured ingredient: Pecans
Last Thanksgiving I bought my parents a new blender. It was a gift, yes, but not an intended one. I actually had to run out and get it mid pie making, after breaking their existing model! That tired blender had raised rectangular buttons and a worn yellow appearance. I can remember the feel of my childhood fingers depressing those different knobs–chop, blend, puree.
Thankfully there was no sentimentality surrounding the old blender and the new one did the job beautifully. And in plenty of time for our feast.
The culprit: pecan pie.
Pecan pie in the blender, you ask? Indeed! At least part of it.
For many years we focused on apple and pumpkin pies for our holiday feast. When we eliminated highly processed sweeteners from our diet it was difficult to think of pecan pie without corn syrup. But over the years I found many alternatives to the Karo’s, including a straight substitution of brown rice syrup. It was less sweet, equally as goopy, and way more satisfying. Yet this pecan pie recipe–the one I made last year with the blender–has been my favorite so far. Simple and delicious.
Though I can’t claim the creation of this one, I am claiming it as a family tradition. The recipe comes from Ani Phyo’s book Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen, pictured above.
Ani Phyo’s Pecan Chai Pie for Thanksgiving
ingredients (all organic)
1 cup raw cashews, dry
1 vanilla bean, scraped, or one tspn vanilla extract
1 tspn sea salt
1-1/2 cup pitted dates
1 cup shredded coconut
1 medium orange, zested, peeled, seeded
1 cup pitted dates
1 Tbspn ground cinnamon
1-1/4 tspn ground cardamom
1 tspn grated nutmeg
splash water, as needed
4 cups raw pecans, dry
(soaked and dehydrated if that’s in your practice)
some roughly chopped or coarsely broken with hands
- To make crust, pulse cashews, vanilla, and salt in food processor. Slowly add dates and process into a dough-like-consistency. Empty bowl.
- Use some shredded coconut to “flour” the bottom of a pie or tart pan. (I like to use a tart pan where I can remove the sides.) Mix remaining coconut into the bowl with the cashew mixture. Press into “floured” pan.
- To make syrup, place orange pulp into bottom of the blender. Add dates, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and blend. Add a splash of water as needed to make a thick syrup. Set aside.
- To make filling, mix pecans, syrup, and 1 Tbspn of orange zest well. Spoon filling into crust.
Store in fridge until ready to serve.
Will keep in fridge for up to five days.
Note: This recipe works equally well in a square or rectangular pan for bars.
serve with Kelly Brozyna’s coconut cream featured in my July RecipEmail:
ingredients (all organic or wild)
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked eight hours or overnight
1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil, gently liquified
1/4 raw honey (ideally local to you)
1/4 tspn Sweet Leaf Liquid Stevia, Vanilla Cream (I prefer the green liquid, which is less processed than the clear.)
2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1) Drain and rinse soaked cashews.
2) Pour cashews into blender or food processor. Add coconut oil and honey. Blend or puree for about two minutes.
3) Add remaining ingredients and blend or puree until creamy.
4) Chill for about six hours. It firms up quite nicely, but I couldn’t wait!
What’s In A Pecan?
There are over 1,000 varieties of pecans. Many are named for Native American Indian tribes, including Cheyenne, Mohawk, Sioux, and Shawnee. Pecans are one of our native crops–making them great to showcase on this Thanksgiving holiday.
Pecans are high in monounsaturated fat and plant sterols which make them good for heart health. They have good stores of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K, as well as the B vitamins which help mitigate stress and balance moods. Always a welcome thing during the holidays! On the mineral side, pecans pack an impressive punch of manganese as well as hosting some zinc, magnesium, and iron. If you’re not looking for any of these vitamins or minerals in particular in your diet, the bottom line about pecans is that they’re endowed with plenty of nutrients to make them worthy of your guilt-free consumption. Indulge in a nibble while making your pie!
references: The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND, whfoods.com
Brion from Our Community Pantry really enjoyed sampling this pie. He’s sure you’ll love it too, so he’s stocking pecans through the end of the year. Visit Brion and Kyler online at ourcommunitypantry.com for all your bulk nut and seed buying needs.
The blender I gifted my folks was not aVitaMix. They don’t blend as often as I do. I hardly know what I’d do without mine–which they gifted me!
I use my VitaMix for everything from smoothies to juices to soups to icings. It’s without a doubt my favorite kitchen tool.
So as it’s the season of gift giving, consider investing in a VitaMix for yourself or someone you love (as long as they’ll share they’re creations).
If you’re interested, call (800) 848.2649 and ask to speak to Janet at extension 2316. Give the code: 06-004653 which will get you free shipping on what I promise will be your new favorite kitchen toy.