As we approach the season of festivities and cozy sweaters, I am thrilled to share with you an Ayurvedic take on a beloved classic — the pumpkin pie.
This recipe is not only plant-based but also rooted in Ayurvedic principles, making it a nourishing treat for your body and soul.
Plus, it is so yummy!
The story of pumpkin pie
The humble pumpkin pie, a staple of American Thanksgiving dinners and Halloween gatherings, has a rich and intriguing history.
It began in the early 17th century when the English settlers at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, encountered a new fruit, the pumpkin. The Native Americans taught them how to cultivate it and it quickly became a vital food source. However, the first “pumpkin pies” bore little resemblance to the sweet, spiced pies we know today. Instead, they were more like a savory soup baked inside a hollowed-out pumpkin.
The transformation into the dessert we now associate with pumpkin pie didn’t happen until the 19th century. As cookbooks became more common, recipes began to incorporate spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, along with sugar, to turn the pumpkin filling into a sweet treat. While initially, pumpkin pie was mostly enjoyed in New England, by the end of the 19th century, it had become a beloved dessert throughout the United States, synonymous with autumn and the holiday season.
Nowadays, pumpkin pie is an iconic symbol of American culinary tradition. And with this vegan, Ayurvedic version, we take the time-honored classic and infuse it with a healthful, mindful twist.
Exploring the advantages of making a plant-based pumpkin pie.
Making our pumpkin pie vegan is beneficial for our health for several reasons.
Firstly, by substituting the heavy cream with coconut milk we can reduce the levels of saturated fats. High intake of saturated fats is associated with increased risk of high cholesterol and heart disease. By using plant-based alternatives, we can lower this risk and promote heart health.
Secondly, flax seeds (used instead of eggs) are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. These nutrients contribute to reducing inflammation, improving digestive health, and supporting overall well-being.
Moreover, we are using gluten-free flour to cater to dietary restrictions and provide options for those with gluten sensitivities.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
In Ayurveda, food is seen as a vital source of energy, and each ingredient has its unique properties and effects on our doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Pumpkin, being naturally sweet and grounding, is excellent for balancing Vata, especially during the fall season when Vata tends to increase. Spices like cinnamon and ginger warm up the dish, aiding digestion and introducing an extra layer of intricacy that brings joy to the senses.
In the Vata season, characterized by cool, dry, and windy weather, it is essential to adjust our diet to stay balanced. Ayurveda promotes the consumption of warm, moist, and grounding foods to counteract the Vata qualities.
Meals should ideally be cooked, easy to digest, seasoned with warming spices, and served hot. Root vegetables, squashes (like pumpkin), ripe fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are also excellent during this period. Spices such as ginger, garlic, cinnamon, and cumin can be used generously to stimulate digestion and add warmth.
In the Vata season, it is advisable to favor tastes that balance Vata dosha.
These include sweet, sour, and salty flavors, which bring warmth, moisture, and grounding energy to the body.
- Sweet tastes do not only refer to sugary foods, but also include foods like fruits, most grains, root vegetables, milk, ghee, fresh yogurt, eggs, nuts, seeds, and vata-balancing proteins such as mung daal.
- Sour foods such as lemons, pickles, and sour cream can stimulate appetite and help improve digestion.
- Salty foods like seaweed and miso can help retain water, improve digestion and stimulate the body.
On the other hand, pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes, found in foods like raw vegetables, spices, and dry beans, can increase Vata dosha.
Plant-based pumpkin pie key ingredients
Pumpkin is a quintessential ingredient during the Vata season, holding a unique ability to balance the Vata dosha due to its inherent properties.
The Rasa (taste) of pumpkin is sweet, one of the tastes that aid in balancing Vata by providing grounding energy and warmth. Sweetness in Ayurveda is not about sugary foods but extends to foods like root vegetables, including pumpkin, which carry nourishing and calming qualities.
This pumpkin pie amaranth porridge is also an excellent idea to incorporate this earthing ingredient into your diet.
The Virya (energy) of pumpkin is cooling, which doesn’t directly counteract Vata’s coolness, but its grounding nature supports overall balance. It’s comforting and heavy in nature, which provides the grounding and stability needed to counterbalance the light, dry, and mobile qualities of Vata.
Lastly, the Vipaka (post-digestive effect) is sweet, further enhancing its Vata-balancing properties. A sweet Vipaka has a nourishing and rejuvenating effect on the body, promoting tissue strength and good health. Thus, adding pumpkin into our diet during Vata season can help us stay grounded, moist, and nourished.
Coconut milk is an integral component of a Vata-balancing pumpkin pie. This creamy, subtly sweet milk comes from the grated meat of mature coconuts. Not only does it lend a velvety texture and rich flavor to the pie, but it also provides a host of benefits in line with Ayurvedic principles.
Ayurveda regards coconut milk as grounding and nourishing, making it ideal for pacifying the Vata dosha. It is sweet and cooling, which help to counter the dry, cool, and erratic nature of Vata.
The high oil content in coconut milk provides essential fatty acids that support Vata’s need for lubrication and internal moisture. Thus, incorporating coconut milk into your pumpkin pie recipe ensures a dish that is not only delicious but also supports balance and well-being in Vata season.
Cinnamon is another essential ingredient in a Vata-balancing pumpkin pie recipe. This aromatic spice is has warming properties that are particularly beneficial during the Vata season. Cinnamon’s sweet and pungent taste and heating effect help to counteract the cold and dry Vata qualities, bringing about a sense of balance and calm.
From a health perspective, cinnamon aids in digestion and circulation, which are often compromised when Vata is elevated. It stimulates the digestive fire, promoting the efficient breakdown and assimilation of nutrients. Cinnamon also has a natural sweetness that satisfies the Vata’s craving for sweet taste, thus lending a further layer of balance.
Ginger plays a key role in creating a Vata-balancing pumpkin pie recipe. Much like cinnamon, ginger is a warming spice, making it especially beneficial during the Vata season. Known for its pungent taste and heating effect, ginger effectively counteracts the cold and dry qualities of Vata.
In Ayurveda, ginger has a potency to stoke the digestive fire, aiding in the efficient digestion and assimilation of nutrients — a process often disrupted when Vata is aggravated. Additionally, ginger’s natural spiciness helps to enhance the circulatory system, combatting the sluggish circulation typically associated with elevated Vata. Ingredients:
Much like its counterparts, nutmeg also possesses a warming effect.
This is important for harmonizing the body during the Vata season. Its sweet and slightly spicy flavor profile perfectly complements the other ingredients, enhancing the overall taste of the pie while also contributing to balance.
From an Ayurveda perspective, nutmeg is particularly useful for counteracting the restless and anxious tendencies often associated with an imbalanced Vata.
Its natural sedative quality promotes relaxation and better sleep, thereby supporting overall well-being during the Vata season. Nutmeg also aids in digestion, helping to optimize nutrient assimilation and prevent digestive discomfort that accumulate during this season.
Black pepper, another warming spice, is an excellent addition to a Vata-balancing diet. Known as ‘King of Spices’, black pepper is distinctly strong and slightly spicy, which adds depth and complexity to any dish, including our pumpkin pie. But its advantages extend beyond just flavor.
In Ayurveda, black pepper is highly valued for its ability to stimulate agni — the digestive fire. Thus aiding in digestion and nutrient assimilation, factors that can suffer during Vata season due to its cold and dry qualities. It facilitates the secretion of gastric juices, effectively countering sluggish digestion.
Moreover, black pepper possesses impressive antioxidant properties, helping to neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. This, in turn, supports overall health and well-being during the Vata season when immunity can be vulnerable.
Its inherent warming property helps to counteract the cold nature of Vata, while its natural pungency helps to stimulate circulation and metabolic processes, mitigating the slow and sluggish tendencies often observed when Vata is out of balance.
Vengan pumpkin pie recipe
Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe
- 1 Small sugar pumpkin
- 1 cup Coconut milk
- 3 tbsp Ground flax seeds
- 1/4 cup Coconut sugar
- 1/4 cup Arrowroot powder
- Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, ground black pepper, salt
- 1 1/4 cups Gluten free flour
- 1/2 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 cup Ghee (cold)
- 2-4 tbsp Cold water
Homemade Pumpkin Puree
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Cut the sugar pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and strings. Place the pumpkin halves cut-side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for about 45-60 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is fork-tender.
- Allow the pumpkin to cool, then scoop out the flesh.
- Blend the pumpkin flesh in a food processor or blender until smooth. Homemade pumpkin puree is ready to use in the recipe.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt.
- Add the cold ghee to the flour mixture. Use your fingers to cut the ghee into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
- Gradually add the cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing with a fork until the dough comes together.
- Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- Soak the flax seeds in a bit of hot water.
- In a blender, blend the homemade pumpkin puree, soaked flax seeds, coconut milk, sugar, arrowroot powder, vanilla extract, spices, and salt until smooth.
- Roll out the chilled pie crust on a lightly floured surface and transfer it to a 9-inch pie dish.
- Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie crust.
- Bake for about 60 minutes, or until the pie is set and slightly golden on the edges. The center might still be a bit jiggly; it will firm up as it cools.
- Allow your pie to cool completely before slicing. This step is crucial as it allows the filling to set properly.
And there you have it.
A vegan pumpkin pie that not only satisfies your sweet tooth but also nourishes your body in line with Ayurvedic principles.
Serve this as part of your Thanksgiving menu, or enjoy a slice with a hot cup of cinnamon tea.
Remember, while this pie is a healthier take on the traditional recipe, it’s still important to enjoy it in moderation, as part of a balanced diet.