It isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, but when I hosted my Sugar-Free Thanksgiving, the pumpkin pie was the thing that had me a little stumped. I had plenty of ideas for other sugar-free desserts, but I really wanted to serve my guests a delicious healthy Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
Fortunately, this sugar-free pumpkin pie does not disappoint! So how does one sweeten a pumpkin pie without the use of added sweeteners? In addition to sugar, I was also avoiding maple syrup, which is my fav sweetener and so delicious in a pumpkin pie.
Since pumpkin is naturally quite bitter, I needed a good way to cut out all of the sugar, while maintaining the characteristic pumpkin pie creaminess and sweetness. The sweetener used here is 2 very ripe bananas. The key is to use very ripe bananas, because otherwise the banana flavour is too prominent.
I served this pie with Pumpkin Spice “nice” cream, but if you’re not avoiding sugar then you can feel good about enjoying that scoop of french vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream with this healthy Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.
October’s Beauty Detox assignment was to create our own version of Kimberly Snyder’s Sweet Potato Custard. By blending cooked sweet potato with tapioca, I was able to achieve that light and creamy texture of a traditional custard without any of the eggs or milk. This vegan sweet potato custard is sweetened with a touch of maple syrup and topped with whipped coconut cream (see recipe below).
Pretty much the only time I ever really eat custard is when it’s part of a prix fixe menu, so in my mind it’s a fancy dessert even though it really couldn’t be more simple. And this sweet potato custard isn’t any different. I kept it easy by baking the custard, which avoided having to stand over the stove stirring the tapioca.
Tapioca isn’t typically baked, but I decided to go ahead and bake this custard in a water bath just like a classic custard. Usually this method is used to prevent the egg from overcooking and curdling the custard, and while this recipe doesn’t contain any egg, I thought it might prevent the outside of the custard from cooking too quickly. I wanted to make sure that this sweet potato custard had a consistent creamy texture throughout, and the water bath did the trick. I refrigerated my custard before removing the ring molds just to be extra sure that it would hold together. By ring molds I mean tin cans, since I couldn’t find my ring molds anywhere. The tin cans did the trick, so remember that for the next time you’re desperately in search of a ring mold! Or, you know, use a ramekin.
This sweet potato custard is thickened with tapioca and naturally sweetened with maple syrup. This baked custard is a creative, completely vegan twist on a classic dessert.
Author: Home at Six
1 large sweet potato, chopped
4 tbs tapioca flour
¼ cup coconut milk
3 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs vanilla extract
coconut whipped cream, walnuts, and maple syrup for serving
Preheat oven to 350F
Bring water to a boil in a medium sauce pan
Add sweet potato and simmer until very tender (10 minutes)
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and combine until completely smooth
Fill ramekins or other oven safe food molds and place in a larger casserole dish
Add boiling water to larger casserole dish to ⅔ of the height of the ramekins
Carefully place in oven and bake for 25-30 minutes
Allow to cool completely before serving
Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 tbs powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Cool coconut milk in fridge overnight. When ready to use, flip can over and open. Pour off liquid and retain leftover cream. In chilled bowl, use a hand-mixer to mix coconut cream, sugar and vanilla until it becomes nice and fluffy. Store leftovers in the fridge, and re-whip before serving.
Find Kimberly Snyder’s Sweet Potato Custard recipe HERE, and check out my other Beauty Detox assignments HERE!
Thanks so much for the congratulations on our recent engagement! We are so excited to take this next step in our relationship and I couldn’t be happier!
All that aside, this morning I made a shocking realization. it’s now already mid-October and I haven’t even had my first pumpkin spice latte! What?! I have a strict policy that fall-specific drinks aren’t to be enjoyed before October 1st (and no Christmas drinks until December 1st), no matter how early Starbucks wants to roll them out. But we’re two weeks into the month and I haven’t had my first PSL yet. To be rectified ASAP!
While I have my rules about my seasonal beverages, I don’t have any rules or regulations prohibiting the early use of pumpkin in other goods for consumption, which is a good thing since I had to celebrate Thanksgiving a month early this year. As you know, my early Thanksgiving coincided with Sugar-Free September. I wasn’t very worried about pulling it off with the exception of dessert.
For me, Thanksgiving really isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. So Sugar-Free September was going to need a sugar-free pumpkin pie. Earlier in the month I’d made a Sugar-Free Peach Pie, but peaches have so much sweetness all on their own. If you’ve ever tried pumpkin straight out of the can, or the rind, then you know it isn’t the least bit sweet. In fact, it’s pretty gross! I certainly didn’t want to end up with a gross pumpkin pie, no matter how healthy.
My (needlessly strict) rules for Sugar-Free September prohibited the use of any added sweeteners. That meant I couldn’t use any of my typical baking sweetener alternatives. No stevia, no maple syrup, no dates. So what did that leave? Bananas! I’ve used bananas in plenty of cakes and muffins before, and of course in banana loaf, but could I pull off a banana-sweetened sugar-free pumpkin pie? Yep, I sure could!
But this sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe isn’t that sugar-free pumpkin pie recipe. This recipe is my first attempt at sweetening a pumpkin pie with overripe banana. I didn’t quite trust that it would work, so I added a few scoops of carob powder for extra sweetness. This attempt resulted in banana-chocolatey deliciousness with that smooth pumpkin pie texture, but it wasn’t close enough to the classic pumpkin pie that I wanted to serve my Thanksgiving dinner guests. For that recipe, download my Sugar-Free Thanksgiving Menu. But if you’re looking for another use for that extra can of pumpkin you’ve got in the cupboard, then go ahead and try this Sugar-Free Banana Chocolate Pumpkin Pie.
Hey guys! I did it! I survived Sugar-Free September, and am so excited to share my experience.
First of all, I need to confess that I didn’t keep things 100% sugar-free. I enjoyed a glass of champagne at an engagement party, as well as two sugar cookies that were shaped like diamond rings. I also had two mojitos when I went out with some friends, had a scoop of ice cream, and ate sweetened cranberry sauce along with my (otherwise) Sugar-Free Thanksgiving dinner. But y’know what? I feel great about it! During a regular month, I bet there are days when I’d eat 5 things with sugar just in one day, so to eat added sugars only 5 times in an entire month? I think that’s pretty awesome! Progress not perfection, right?
I actually found that I didn’t crave sugar very much at all. During a regular month, I usually crave sweets of some sort every few days, but I think avoiding sugars almost entirely eliminated those cravings. I certainly didn’t experience those strong cravings that sometimes have me grabbing for a muffin during my mid-afternoon slump. My boyfriend kept things fairly sugar-free, too, and while he normally LOVES his candy, he hardly missed it this month. One evening he said, “I wish I could have some candy….actually, I don’t!” I could completely relate. It was almost like we thought we should want those sweet treats, but we actually didn’t. It wasn’t about mustering will power and fighting cravings. We just naturally weren’t super interested in reaching for those sugary foods.
I felt great all month. I woke up each morning feeling positive. Each and every morning. I don’t think I’ve ever had such an emotionally stable month before in my entire life! Normally, I have my regular ups and downs, but I felt so consistently well all month that I couldn’t help but notice. A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in helping depression!
A month without “fat days”? Heck yes! I lost 5-6 pounds this month without even trying and hardly experienced any bloating. All I focused on was avoiding added sugars, so there was none of the usual candy and baked goods, and I also avoided a lot of the carbs that I usually eat. Even though I felt like I was always eating, and never felt deprived, I lost some of that extra softness. Woohoo! On top of that, my skin was pretty clear all month and I just generally felt happy with my appearance.
One thing that I think will be a long-term benefit of this month-long sugar-free experiment is that I was forced to identify sugar-free substitutes for some of the convenience items I regularly buy. It took a little bit of extra hunting, but I did manage to find marinara sauce, granola and canned soups that didn’t contain any added sugars. I’m going to stick to buying these products since it’s such a simple way to cut out some of the sugars that I don’t miss at all. I also found sugar-free prepared chili, frozen spinach patties and bread for those times when I need quick and easy food options. I also paid a bit more attention to my fruit intake. I’d normally eat a banana or two each day, but I simply substituted apples, peaches and berries, which have lower sugar content, and only ate a few bananas over the course of the month, even cutting them out of my daily green smoothie.
I’m not going to be avoiding added sugars as strictly as I did this past month, and I’ll be more open to using alternative sweeteners like stevia, honey, and maple syrup. I’m going to keep looking for sugar-free substitutes for everyday staples to continue cutting sugars where they just aren’t necessary. I’ll also continue to explore sugar-free baking, since I now know I can make delicious muffins, pies and breads. My Sugar-Free Thanksgiving proves that I can even enjoy my favourite holiday meals without needing the usual piles of sugar, and that’s pretty awesome (go download your free copy of the menu, if you haven’t already!).
To celebrate the end of Sugar-Free September, here’s an easy recipe for Pumpkin Spice “Nice” Cream. Enjoy it on its own, or use it to top a slice of sugar-free pumpkin pie. This is a delicious dessert that you can enjoy, guilt-free. Add some granola and enjoy this “nice” cream for breakfast! By swapping in these healthier treat options on a regular basis, it means I’m able to really enjoy my special occasion treats…like those Nutella crepes I’ll be enjoying soon in Paris next week!
Healthy Ice Cream made with bananas and spiced with pumpkin pie spice
Author: Home at Six
5 overripe bananas (1 banana per person), chopped and frozen
¼ cup pumpkin puree
1 tbs pumpkin spice (or cinnamon/nutmeg)
pinch of salt
Place ingredients in a food processor and process on high until smooth
Serve immediately, or freeze to harden (thaw for ~5 minutes before serving)
Did you do sugar-free September? How’d it go? Or if you haven’t tried it yet, have I convinced you to give it a shot?
Find all my Sugar-Free September posts HERE, including lots of recipes!
And don’t forget to get my complete Sugar-Free Thanksgiving menu. All you need to do is subscribe to receive updates from Home at Six, and you’ll receive a printable PDFdownload. If you’re already subscribed, just enter your email address to receive your free download.