I love the holidays, especially Christmas. I love looking at the lights, seeing the church decorated, and baking cookies. And I love holiday food: cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cookies, pumpkin pie...yum! However, in the past few years I've developed some food allergies and intolerances. It makes enjoying these holiday favorites a bit trickier. But the tradeoff is worth it. When I avoid these foods, I obviously avoid scary allergic reactions, but cutting out dairy and now gluten has made a huge difference for my body. Once I stopped eating gluten-containing foods, the acid reflux I experienced has mainly gone away, and I can enjoy some foods that triggered my heartburn before. The tradeoff is definitely worth it. When people hear about my dietary restrictions, they look at me and ask "what do you eat?" Lots of good food. It helps that food companies are much better at labelling allergens in food today, and there are more options at the grocery store. I enjoy getting creative in the kitchen, and it's easy to find plenty of meals to cook up at home.
This Thanksgiving I had to get a little more creative to enjoy my favorite sweet treat, pie. I'm not a huge pumpkin pie fan, but it doesn't feel like the holidays without a slice. I combined my mom's pie crust recipe (subbing in some gluten free flour) and a pumpkin pie recipe from my favorite recipe website godairyfree.org They usually have suggestions to make their recipes gluten free as well. This pumpkin pie does not taste like coconut and has my husband's stamp of approval. He couldn't tell the difference from traditional pumpkin pie. There's no soggy bottom to this pie, and it's extra good with some coconut whipped cream on top, even Aldi carries it. You could also opt for TruWhip if you're more of a cool whip person or don't want the coconut flavor.
Gluten Free Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie
1 cup flour
1/4 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 cup water
1/4 tbsp. vinegar
½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed (you can also use these brown sugar substitutes if you're like me and realize you don't have brown sugar in your pantry once you've started baking)
¼ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs (vegan suggestions on the website)
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup regular, full-fat, canned coconut milk (It needs to be the can, not the beverage. I find it in the Asian section of Meijer.)
Combine dry ingredients of the pie dough. Use a pastry cutter to add in the shortening. Add water and vinegar to the dry ingredients. Combine until it forms a dough. Chill in fridge for a 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 425 F. Beat eggs and then add the rest of the filling ingredients (except the coconut milk). Thoroughly combine. Shake shake shake that can of coconut milk before you open it (otherwise the cream will be floating up top). Then open it and give it a couple stirs before adding it in.
Put the pie crust in a 9 in pie dish. I've found that my gluten free pie crusts are quite crumbly and difficult to roll out and then transfer to the dish. I've had better luck just smooshing it into the pie dish. It works out just fine, and the crust holds well and is perfectly flaky once baked. Add filling.
Bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven temperature down 350 F and bake for about 50-60 minutes. You'll be able to stick in a knife and have it come out clean when it's done. Cool for at least 2 hours. Make sure to store your pie in the refrigerator.
Enjoy your pie! To prove that people with dietary restrictions can still enjoy delicious food and have fun, I want to share my two favorite places for a date night. First, there's Oh Mi Organics in St. John, Michigan. Their whole store is dairy, gluten, tree nut, and peanut tree. There are their delicious chocolates in oh so many flavors (think tiramisu, Santa's cookies, rose, and elephant ear besides the regular staples). The shop also offers baked goods, coffee (the best cold brew ever), hot chocolate, hummus, and more to enjoy. Plus you can enjoy the cute downtown area of St. Johns while you're out there. Their chocolate can also be found in stores throughout Michigan and Ohio if you don't live close enough to check it out. But it is absolutely delightful to enjoy all of their products and flavors in person while having a chat with the owners. It's definitely worth the drive. Second, there's Lil G's Italian Restaurant, also in St. Johns. I thought I'd never eat at an Italian restaurant again, but here us gluten and dairy free folks can enjoy almost everything on the menu. And it's not a small menu by any means. Their chicken parmesan is amazing and not just amazing for gluten and dairy free. They even offer different takeaway bakes and holiday dinner packages. Just make sure to check their days and hours of operation on Facebook before you head out for a date night. Right now they're dine in Thursday-Sunday.