Almost every American holiday involves pie, and just about every pie requires a crust (or otherwise it’s either a baked fruit salad or a custard). Yet most pie crusts involve grains, which leaves many people out on holidays, or the old choice between no pie or feeling sick afterwards. Some well-meaning people
will offer a store-bought pumpkin pie, but it’s usually on a traditional crust. Guests might not want to discard the crusts out of a desire to be polite, or may have a gluten allergy as well so that they can’t even touch it.
There are low carb flours available, but they invariably contain some gluten, and can be expensive. And there are gluten-free mixes available, but they’re sometimes even higher in carb content than wheat flour. Some people use flax seed, but that might not be a flavor you want in your pie.
Fortunately, it’s possible to make pie crusts out of non-grain alternatives. Better yet, sometimes these crusts can enhance the flavor of the pie far better than wheat flour would!
A simple alternative using widely-available ingredients is the nut crust. Nuts provide flavor and bulk; whey protein powder adds some binding qualities without adding any carbs or grain; butter adds moisture to draw it all together. Pre-baked, a nut crust can be filled with any filling that fits your dietary requirements.
It’s particularly nice that pumpkin is naturally low-carb! Pumpkin goes very well with a variety of nuts. Pecans and walnuts are nice. If you live in an area where black walnuts or hickories grow, they can add a nice flavor note. Black walnuts, though, can be overwhelming with their strong flavor, so mix them with either regular walnuts or almonds so it’s just a note and not a full symphony. Almonds, believe it or not, are so delicately-flavored that they are nearly neutral when it comes to combining them with the fillings.
That’s the basic combination, but you can add a little stevia, a natural sweetener that has no sugar content, to make your crust a little sweeter. You can also add spices that complement your filling, such as a little cinnamon or ginger with a pumpkin pie. You could even add a very small amount of blackstrap molasses, which has a huge flavor impact but adds almost no carbs if you’re only using a 1/4 teaspoon or so for a whole pie.
Grain-Free, Low Carb Nut Pie Crust–Basic Recipe
For a 10″ pie pan
1 1/3 cup ground nuts (you can grind them yourself in the food processor)
1/3 cup protein powder
1/3 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350° .
Rub pie pan with a bit of butter or coconut oil applied with the corner of a paper towel.
In a bowl, use a pastry cutter to combine the ingredients. Dribble the butter in as evenly as you can to make it easier to moisten all the ingredients. When it’s right, it can be barely pressed together but won’t be clumpy.
Put the mixture into the pie pan and then use your fingers to press the mixture up the sides and across the bottom, covering all surfaces evenly, making a pretty patter on the rim if you can, and making sure you don’t have a thick block where the sides meet the bottom.
Place in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, removing when you can smell toasted nuts and they’ve started to brown. Allow to cool before filling.
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