Paleo Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding
Who doesn’t love pumpkin pie?
Making it dairy-free and sugar-free is the ultimate win. This “dessert” is incredibly delicious and satisfying, and so wholesome you can eat it as or with any meal. Guilt-free and nutrient dense, this spin on the fall favorite is good all year-round.
I love pumpkin. Not like the “Oooh, it’s October and time for pumpkin spice lattes!” kinda love. I don’t like pumpkin flavored things, I like real pumpkin and the sweet and flavorful spices that pair so well with it.
Back in my early 20’s, I ate a very restrictive diet. At this time I was slowing beginning my wellness journey and developing an interest in nutrition, but I was still throws of an eating disorder that lasted most of my early adulthood. This particularly phase was incredibly restrictive. I had a constantly waxing and waning desire to eat foods that would be considered healthy vs. a desire to choose foods that were strictly low calorie. My diet was limited to something like 20 different foods. A normal day would consist of one packet of oatmeal, 10-18 raw almonds, one brazil nut, one banana, 2 apples, spinach with mustard, and a dollop of fat-free yogurt with one cup of blueberries… not that I was counting or anything [but I was]. And for lunch…. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I would eat pumpkin. Yes, just pumpkin. I would add cinnamon and Splenda (give me a break this was almost 8 years ago people), and bring it with me to work. Did this look odd? Oh, abso-freaking-lutely it looked odd! My coworkers joked about my strange food choices every day, but I was just so pleased with the fact that I could eat something that looked almost like an appropriate portion of food for 175 calories [again, who’s counting?]. And, I actually enjoyed it. It was one of the few things in my diet that I actually found pleasure in eating. If pureed pumpkin is the high point of your weekly menu, something is wrong. I loved it so much that this went on for months.
And, result of exact eating the same thing for months?
I TURNED ORANGE. Like Oompa Loompa, no joke, ORANGE! My palms looked like I had stayed up all night finger painting Jack-o-lanterns. I did some research and found out that if you eat too much beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A found in dark green, red and orange fruit and vegetables (like pumpkin!), you will start to excrete the orange pigment through your skin. I still eat just pureed pumpkin to this day. But, I sweeten it with stevia or coconut sugar now, and I sure as hell don’t call it a meal. At this time in my life where I was eating well below my caloric needs, and eating the same foods every week, I was at a particular low point in my health. My mood swings were wild, I slept horribly, I was anxious, I had dull hair, I got sick ALL the time, I was incredibly tired, and I would take a handful of vitamins and caffeine pills in the morning on an empty stomach and wondered why I still felt like garbage. Without giving my body what it needed both in micro and macronutrients I wasn’t able to achieve any mental or physical stability. My body was always in need of something.
Of course, I didn’t just eat more food and suddenly the stars aligned and everything in my life was better. That is not how these things worked. Still at 27 I am making steps towards finding balance in my diet and achieving a better relationship with food.
If you wake everyday with a struggle, tired and groggy, with pain, your immune system isn’t prime, you have mood swings, and you just generally don’t feel healthy (or maybe you don’t know what healthy feels like because you’ve felt like garbage so long)… This may be an appropriate time to evaluate your diet and other daily habits, and attempt to eliminate the unnecessary things that are taxing or repetitive. This may also be a good time to seek out professional help from a good functional medical practitioner, holistic dietitian or nutrition therapy practitioner. By examining the underlying issues in your health, and actively working towards creating a health promoting diet and lifestyle, you may be able to improve your overall quality of life. And, it is certainly worth of shot if you don”t like feeling like garbage.
Lesson 1 of this story: Variety in your diet is important!
Eat ALL the colors. Eat carbs, fats and protein. Don’t count your calories if you don’t have to. And, don’t turn orange!
Lesson 2: Pumpkin is fantastic, both in flavor and nutrition!
And, this Paleo Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding is going to rock your world. Let’s get to it.
This paleo pumpkin pie chia pudding is an excellent choice for breakfast or dessert because it tastes indulgent but is perfectly healthy and nutrient dense.
Pumpkin is loaded with vitamin A (obviously, from the story above), potassium and natural plant fiber (which is gentler than grain fiber). It has a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin C and B6. Because pumpkin is rich in potassium, it may help with blood pressure regulation and reduction. The combination of protein, fat, and fiber with the complex carbs in the pumpkin allows for a slow release of sugar into the bloodstream. Sweetened with stevia, this dessert is ideal for people who struggle with blood glucose control or just crave steady energy.
The spices in this recipe are sweet and warming, and the ginger and pecans add something unique to the texture. You can make this treat more decadent by using lite or full fat canned coconut milk or opting for maple syrup, soaked dates or coconut sugar as a sweetener. Or make it lighter by using unsweetened almond milk and stevia.
Other ideas for toppings: Coconut chips, walnuts, dates, cinnamon roasted nuts, paleo granola or whatever else that has that sweet and toasty flavor that you happen to have in your cupboard.
Enjoy this easy paleo pumpkin pie chia pudding in the fall, or anytime really.
Paleo Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding
Pumpkin is an awesomely nutritious food, and pairs so well with sweet and flavorful spices. This recipe combines everything good about pumpkin pie into a indulgent and nutritious dish.
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup almond or coconut milk
- 1/8 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp maca powder optional
- 1 pinch sea salt
- to taste maple syrup, coconut sugar, or stevia
- 2 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp crystallized ginger, chopped optional
- 1 tbsp pecans, crushed optional
Add pumpkin, milk, spices and sweeten to a bullet or blender. Blend several seconds until smooth.
Pour contents of the blender into a jar. Add chia seeds. Cover jar with lid. Agitate until seeds are suspended in the liquid.
Place in fridge for at least 10 minutes (longer the better). Shake jar several times while waiting, and before serving.
Remove from the fridge, pour into a bowl, and top with crystallized ginger and pecans or whatever toppings you choose.
If you want to use a full can (1-3/4 cups) of pumpkin you can just double the recipe and the results will be pretty much the same.
For a thicker pudding you can add another 1/2-1 tbsp of chia seeds - mix well.