Yesterday our friends Judy, Nick and Viki came for lunch, along with their 1 year old West Highland Terrier, Poppy.
For dessert, I made this Pecan Pie, which is free from wheat, dairy and added sugar. The sweetness comes from the natural whole ingredients - carrots, dates, pecan nuts, coconut and cinnamon.
It went down so well that Nick asked me for the recipe.
I must stress that this dish is sweet and is thus best served as a treat for special occasions rather than consumed on a regular basis. Although it contains a relatively high level of natural sugars, it also contains many other beneficial nutrients, so is much better for you than, say, cheesecake.
Carrots provide the highest source of provitamin A carotenes of the commonly consumed vegetables. Two carrots provide roughly 4050 retinol equivalents, or four times the recommended daily intake of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is required for:
- Antioxidant protection from damaging effects of oxidation/free radicals, pollutants
- Eye health and vision
- Strengthening the immune system
- Growth, repair and formation of body tissues
- Bone, nerve, teeth formation
- Fertility, pregnancy and lactation
- The lining of the digestive tract
Carrots also provide excellent levels of vitamin K, biotin and dietary fibre; and very good levels of vitamins C and B6, potassium and vitamin B1.
Carrots are an excellent source of antioxidant compounds that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Carrots also promote good vision, especially night vision. Beta-carotene, which is present in high levels in carrots, provides protection against macular degeneration and the development of senile cataracts.
Dates are among the most alkaline of foods and contain a special type of soluble fibre called beta-D-glucan. Beta-D-glucan fibre has been shown to decrease the body's absorption of cholesterol and to slow or delay absorption of glucose in the small intestine, thus helping to keep blood sugar levels even.
Laboratory studies have shown that dates are also surprisingly rich in antioxidant and anticancer compounds.
Pecan nuts owe much of their flavour to their high fat content, most of which is in the form of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated oleic acid.
Pecans also contain significant amounts of plant sterols, which are known to lower cholesterol levels.
Pecans are an excellent source of vitamin B1; and a good source of vitamins B3, B5, B6 and vitamin E. They are also rich in minerals, particularly manganese, molybdenum, zinc, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium and calcium.
Coconut contains saturated fat and is an excellent source of manganese, molybdenum and copper.
Proving that delicious can also be healthy, here we go...
|Ingredients for Pecan Pie|
For the base
- 1 cup (85g/3oz) desiccated coconut
- 1 cup (100g/3.5oz) pecan nuts (chopped)
- 70g/2.5oz dried dates (chopped)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1-2 tbsp water
For the topping
- 4 carrots(240g/8.5oz) (peeled and grated)
- 140g (5oz) dried dates (chopped)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (170g/6oz) ground almonds
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup (150ml/5 fl oz) hot water
- 20-25 pecan nuts for decoration
1) Put dried ingredients for base in a food processor and blend until they form into a dough-like ball. Add 1-2 tbsp water if necessary to make the mixture stick together.
2) Press base mixture into a pie dish and bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees C (gas mark 3/325 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5 to 10 minutes until just turning golden brown at the edges. Take care not to overcook - pecan nuts can burn easily.
3) Add the grated carrots, dried dates and cinnamon to a small pan, add 1/2 cup of hot water and simmer until the carrots and dates are soft. Add a little more water if necessary. Blend together with ground almonds until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If you find the mixture is a bit soft, just add some more ground almonds; if it's too dry, add a little more water.
4) Spread mixture on top of base using a spatula or a spoon and knife and decorate with pecan nuts. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 degrees C (gas mark 3/325 degrees Fahrenheit) for 10 minutes until lightly brown. Serve warm or cold.
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