Rich and decadent without an ounce of guilt!
Not too many new dishes make it onto my Thanksgiving table. The menu is crowded with traditional favorites and when I try to introduce new things, I find there is a lot of push back if I try to omit ANYTHING! It’s a delicate balance to add more health to the menu without taking anything out. In an effort to keep the menu manageable, an addition to the menu has to be something REALLY special. One thing everyone can agree on is the addition of tasty desserts to the menu. Especially if they’re rich, delicious and chocolate! You can never get enough of those! Ah, but what to do if you’re trying to stay true to your health and wellness goals? What a dilemma!
While the beautiful composed salad with pomegranates and roasted delicata squash, the hearty mashed roots, the interesting and tasty vegetables are all delicious, they are somewhat obviously the “healthy” choices on the table. Decadent chocolate pie, on the other hand, screams regular Thanksgiving fare. Um….were we talking about health and wellness goals?
What if I told you that you can have your cake (pie) and eat it too?
These days I’m all about healthy…..but not at the sacrifice of taste. I look for recipes that I know we will enjoy and set about to change up the ingredients, taking out unhealthy fats, refined sugars, sodium laden processed products and exchanging them with ingredients that add some vitamins, nutrients and other health benefits.
I stumbled upon a recipe recently for a chocolate pie with pecan crust. It looked gorgeous and I could almost taste its rich chocolate filling through the magazine…..but the ingredient list was sure to send someone into cardiac arrest, put them on the fast track to a diabetic coma, or at the very least pack on a number of unwanted pounds. I thought about that pie often. Really often.
While I was examining our Thanksgiving menu I realized that a chocolate pecan pie would be a stellar addition to the dessert table. Coincidence? I think not…that pie was still on my mind!! Still, I was determined to stick with my own guidelines before adding it to our Thanksgiving menu. It would have to be extraordinary in taste as well as a healthy choice. While this pie is rich, decadent, and delicious, it’s not sickeningly sweet like a typical pecan pie. The filling is reminiscent of a thick chocolate mousse, and the crust evokes just the right tones of pecans.
I use cashew milk in this pie because it is rich and creamy, mimicking the thickness of cream. By using cashew milk, rather than cream for the filling of this pie, the nutritional profile changes dramatically. When you make your own cashew milk (see note below), you can control the thickness by changing up the ratio of nuts to water. Cashew milk contains a good amount of protein, magnesium and Vitamin K. While, cashew milk does contain a fair amount of fat, it is primarily unsaturated fatty acids that are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, similar to those found in olive oil.
I’ve used a crust similar to this in other pies because it works well both cooked and raw. Pecans have enough oil on their own, so no added fats are needed and the dates provide all the sweetness needed! Pecans also increase the protein content as well as adding fiber, and an array of vitamins and minerals including E, B complex, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and selenium.
While I do love a challenge in the kitchen, in the form of healthifying a recipe, I was intimidated to try to create a better version of that pie. It took me weeks to try…..and then I realized why I was so hesitant. Although I was successful in creating a super delicious, and super healthy pie, it was impossible for me to eat just one small slice! In the future, I’ll stick to making this pie when we have guests to help finish it up!
This pie will surely make it onto our Thanksgiving dessert table, a win-win for those trying to stay true to their health and wellness goals and not feel that they’re missing out. Who says you can’t have your pie and eat it too?