Just a few twists to a traditional pumpkin pie recipe make this Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie deliciously low-carb. 7g net carbs per slice, it’s gluten-free, grain-free and vegetarian, and contains no added sugar or artificial sweetener.
A cheesecake-style base using almonds, combined with browning of the filling, creates a seasonal ‘rustic’ appearance, and a nutty flavour, which is a little different from many traditional pumpkin pies! Or remove it from the oven earlier if you prefer a lighter and more uniform colour.
A little bit of history of the Pumpkin Pie!
Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America/Mexico. From here they were exported to France, and thence to Tudor England.
It’s from the 17th century onwards that pumpkin pie recipes first started appearing – and that was in English cookbooks. Originally, apparently, what was known as pumpkin pie was more like a soup of milk and honey served in a hollowed-out pumpkin in which it had been cooked over a fire. Recipes for pumpkin pies of the sort we would recognise today – a pumpkin-based, spiced, custard in a sweet pastry tart case – actually started appearing in American cookbooks in the early 19th century.
From there, it gradually became popular to serve pumpkin pie during Thanksgiving dinner. Of course since then, that tradition has become huge in both the USA and Canada. And since the pumpkin is a symbol of harvest time, pumpkin pie is often eaten more generally during the autumn/fall.
Ingredients & substitutions
As is common for many traditional recipes, I’ve taken some of the work out of making my Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie by using canned pumpkin purée. But if that’s not available to you (as in the UK, for instance, it rarely is much outside the Halloween season), or you just want to use fresh pumpkin, then you can make your own pumpkin purée. Here’s a simple pumpkin purée recipe I found that I shall try myself at some point.
Pumpkin Pie Spice is another ingredient with which people in the UK may be unfamiliar – although it is becoming more common in seasonal lattes offered by Starbucks etc. But Pumpkin Pie Spice available in the US and Canada is actually very similar to the UK product Mixed Spice. So it’s usually a mixture of ground nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves – and sometimes allspice. Mixed Spice is therefore what I’ve used in my recipe, as it’s what is available to me.
Converting a pumpkin pie to low-carb
My Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie saves you carbs in three ways over a traditional recipe.
Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie also saves you carbs by substituting ground almonds/almond flour for flour, or Digestive biscuits/Graham crackers, which are often used traditionally in the base.
As an optional step, I like to toast my ground almonds in a dry heavy-based frying pan/skillet before using them for the pie base. That’s because I like a nutty flavour for this rustic pie (also enhanced by cooking for long enough so the filling ‘catches’ a little in the oven to give darker brown patches on top and on the sides). But be careful when toasting your ground almonds to ensure they don’t burn. So if you don’t feel confident in this step, or you’re pushed for time, then just use the ground almonds raw.
Lastly, traditional Pumpkin Pie recipes often use high-carb evaporated or condensed milk. Low-carb substitutes include coconut cream, and you can use that if you prefer. But here, as I didn’t want a coconut-y taste, I’ve used double/heavy whipping cream.
Pumpkins – along with root vegetables such as carrots and onions, – are what I would describe as being at the high-carb end of low-carb vegetables, if that makes sense! That’s because 100g (scant cup) of cubed fresh pumpkin has around 7g carbs (compare that to ultra low-carb vegetables like mushrooms at 1g carbs per 100g, or spinach at 2g).
So Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie isn’t ultra low-carb. But at 7g of carbs per generous slice, it’s still pretty low! So it’s a legitimate treat on a low-carb way of eating. And it can also be incorporated into an ultra low-carb keto diet, as long as you’re careful with what else you eat that day.
And at 7g net carbs, this Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie saves you 27g carbs per slice over one, say, made using Betty Crocker’s recipe. (NB: I deducted the sugary whipped cream from that recipe in the calculations below, as I wanted to compare the pies like-for-like as far as possible. But based on the amounts of ingredients used, it seems the Betty Crocker pie will be smaller – hence the larger number of calories per slice as 1/8 of a pie).
|Per slice (1/8 of a whole pie)||Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie||Betty Crocker Recipe Pumpkin Pie|
|Net Carbs (i.e. minus sugar alcohols/polyols, & fibre is counted separately)||7g||34g|
* Figures calculated using verified nutritional info on MyFitnessPal.
Some Health Impacts of the Main Ingredients
You can tell by the fact that it’s bright orange that pumpkin is full of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body, and can help promote healthy skin, eyes and immunity. According to the University of Illinois, current research suggests that diets rich in beta-carotene may protect against heart disease and help reduce the risk of developing some cancers. It may also help ward-off other diseases, and some degenerative aspects of aging.
Management of diabetes & depression
Developing countries such as Iran have traditionally used pumpkin for many medicinal purposes. A scientific review in 2006 pulled together research from recent decades on whether evidence existed to back-up traditional medicinal uses for pumpkin. And the researchers reported finding considerable evidence from a range of scientific studies.
Among other things, they said there was evidence to validate claims for traditional medicinal uses for pumpkin against diabetes, hypertension, tumours, high cholesterol, inflammation and parasites. There was also evidence of positive effects on the immune system, and of antibacterial effects. The researchers also suggested that germination and fermentation could reduce anti-nutritional materials and affect the pharmacological activities of pumpkin i.e. in effect, meaning more of the nutrients in pumpkin are available to be absorbed in the body, and potentially to have a greater medicinal effect.
More recently, a 2018 study picked up on trying to understand better why pumpkin polysaccharide can alleviate Type 2 diabetes. Following experiments in rats, they suggested that it did so by improving insulin tolerance; decreasing levels of blood glucose, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (‘bad’ cholesterol); and increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein (‘good’ cholesterol). They found that pumpkin polysaccharide also changed the structure of gut microbiota (gut bacteria), and selectively enriched some key species, leading to a beneficial effect against Type 2 diabetes.
A 2016 study by different researchers also found similar results for the effect of pumpkin (and probiotics in yogurt) in Type 2 diabetes management.
Meanwhile, another review in 2015 – looking at the use of a whole host of different foodstuffs, including squash (pumpkin), as a source of nutrients in traditional Iranian medicine – concluded that squash is one of the most effective foodstuffs for management of depression.
Recipe for Low-Carb Pumpkin Pie
Recipe for Low-Carb Pumpkin Pie
Low-Carb, Keto & Vegetarian. Free From Gluten, Grains, Added Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners.
- 100g/scant ½ cup butter, melted
- 50g/2 tbsps granulated erythritol (or xylitol, or other low-carb granulated sweetener of your choice)
- 150g/1 & ¼ cups ground almonds/almond flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 425g/15oz can of pumpkin purée (or make your own)
- 160 ml/2/3 cup double/heavy whipping cream
- 3 large eggs
- 75g/6 tbsps granulated erythritol sweetener (or xylitol, or other low-carb granulated sweetener of your choice)
- 2 tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or use vanilla powder or scrape the seeds from a vanilla pod)
- Take a 20cm/8 inch springform cake tin and line the bottom and sides with baking parchment/greaseproof paper.
- Make the Base: Optional – toast the ground almonds until medium brown by putting them in a heavy-based frying pan/skillet over a medium heat and moving them about frequently to ensure they toast evenly and don’t burn. I prefer to do this to give Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie a nutty flavour – but it’s optional, and you can just use your ground almonds raw if you wish.
- Mix the melted butter with the ground almonds, cinnamon, and 50g/tbsp granulated erythritol (or low-carb sweetener of your choice). Then mix in a beaten egg.
- Spread and press the pie base mixture across the bottom of the prepared tin, until there are no gaps and you have covered the surface. (This is a ‘rustic’ pie, so it doesn’t matter if the base isn’t perfectly even!).
- Make the Filling: Preheat your oven to 200ºC/180° fan/400ºF/gas 6.
- Put the pumpkin purée in a medium bowl. Add the 75g erythritol and the eggs and mix well. Then add the cream, mixed/pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla, and mix well again.
- Pile the pumpkin filling on top of the base and bake for 35-45 minutes. Your pie is done when it’s set and firm to the touch, the filling is no longer wobbly, and an inserted knife comes out clean. Personally, I like to cook the until it’s ‘caught’ a little on the top and around the edges, which I think gives it a seasonal ‘rustic’ look, and a nuttier flavour. But take it out of the oven earlier if you prefer to have a lighter and more uniform colour.
- You can serve the pie as soon as you wish. But it’s best left for around 2 hours to cool, and to solidify properly.
- You can serve Low-Carb Rustic Pumpkin Pie just as it is. Or topping options include: whipped cream; whipped cream sweetened with powdered erythritol, or another low-carb sweetener; and double/heavy cream simply poured over the top.
- Store remaining pie in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature before serving.