As the calendar year finds its way to a close, I'm being reminded of the importance of giving my creativity some time to chill out; to slow down, spend time with loved ones, and... to eat some pie. I'm also reminded of how when I give myself this time, my creativity loves me for it, and comes back in full force when I kick back into gear.
I'm the kind of person who sometimes finds slowing down a bit challenging; I always want to keep working and creating. But the part of me that is centered and balanced knows that the slowing down part is just as important as the moving and the shaking. So, in the spirit of all that, I'm sharing a recipe that supports the process of winding down, finding comfort, and nurturing the mind, body and soul: yam pie. This is one of my favorite plant-based and low sugar desserts. The yams have a hormonally balancing effect, so while you're enjoying this treat, you're also nourishing and supporting your endocrine system.
This recipe is inspired by the yam pie recipe found on p. 163 in Christina Avaness' book Living Beyond Organic. For more info on her amazing work, click here.
For the filling
4 medium-sized yams
1/2 cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. organic coconut sugar
2 tbsp. grade B maple syrup
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground wildcrafted vanilla bean
1 tsp. organic lemon zest (I recommend using an organic lemon and washing it thoroughly before grating it to yield your zest.)
(You can adjust the amount of sweetener used to suit your sweet tooth. I've created this pie with just a touch of extra sugar and it was still yummy. Play around and discover what you like.)
For the crust
1 box organic graham crackers (approx. 14oz)
(I like Annie's Homegrown Organic, but there are other good brands out there)
1 tbsp. ground almonds
2 tbsp. shredded coconut
1/2 cup raw organic virgin coconut oil
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3-5 tbsp. spring water (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Rinse yams and pierce them with a fork (this keeps them from exploding in your oven). Place yams in a baking dish, cover with a sheet of unbleached parchment paper and cover dish with tightly wrapped aluminum foil. Allow yams to bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. After they've been in the oven for 30 minutes, check them regularly to see how soft they are, they need to be just soft enough to purée.
Meanwhile, grind graham crackers. A food processor works best, but I've done this old school style using my hands. Add ground almonds, shredded coconut, salt and spices. Add coconut oil. If your coconut oil is still solid, liquefy it by briefly warming it up over a medium flame. Use both hands to blend all of the ingredients together. If your crust is too dry, you might need to add a couple of tablespoons of spring water. Be mindful of the amount of water you add. I've added too much and my crust became a little soggy and clumpy. Lightly grease a 9" pie dish with coconut oil. Using your fingers, gently press crust mixture into pie dish so that it evenly covers the bottom and sides of the dish.
Remove yams from oven once they've finished baking. Once they are cool enough to touch, peel them and place them in a large glass mixing bowl. Add sweeteners, coconut milk and spices. This pie is quite the spice fest. I like playing around with different spice combinations to see what I like best. At the moment I'm really enjoying emphasizing the cinnamon, vanilla and cardamom. Add your lemon zest- this is really that magical ingredient that'll add a whole extra layer of flavor to your pie. Using a mixer or food processor, blend everything together to yield a creamy consistency. If there are still a couple of yam chunks in your mixture, that is quite all right.
Preheat oven to 375 °F. Spread mixture over crust into your pie dish. Using a spoon, smooth over the top of your pie. Send your pie lots of good vibes and place it in the oven. Bake for 30-45min. Place a knife in the center of your pie, if it comes out clean, your pie is done. You don't have to be to worried about undercooking anything since you're not working with ingredients like eggs. Primarily, the baking part allows all of the ingredients and flavors to blend and mold together.
I love having this pie with either vanilla coconut milk ice cream or freshly whipped cream.
My simple whipped cream recipe:
1/2 organic heavy cream
1/4 tsp. ground wildcrafted vanilla bean
1 tbsp. grade B maple syrup
Add ingredients to a medium sized mixing bowl. Whip cream on high using a handheld mixer. Cream is finished when firm peaks form.
This pie is also amazing a day or two after it's been made. I find that this extra time really allows all of the spices and flavors to integrate and reveal themselves in all of their complexity.
And remember to embrace the holidays as a time to breathe and find comfort. There'll be plenty of time to move and create again in the New Year.
From my heart to yours,