Gluten free, nut-free Pumpkin pie bar

I am newly gluten free, as of the last 3 months or so. I’m still learning how to navigate a world without wheat, but I’m happy to be doing so.gluten free pumpkin bar

My older son has nut allergies, the kind we don’t want to mess with. A lot of the gluten free/primal recipes I find have nuts of some kind – especially pies and pumpkin related goodies. I see pecan or walnut crusts, almond flour creations – so many ingredients we just can’t have at my house.

I wanted to make a pumpkin pie-ish dessert for Thanksgiving but didn’t feel up to learning to make a gluten free pie crust. I just haven’t tackled pastry yet. I started searching for a good candidate but so many have the ingredients that are forbidden to us.

I finally found a recipe that sounded amazing but is not specifically gluten free. I realized I could adapt it, though and make something for me that is also safe for my son. Here is the original recipe and how I adapted it:

Pumpkin Pie Bars

Gluten Free Pumpkin Pie Bars

1 stick butter
15 gluten free graham crackers, crushed
1/3 cup sugar

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 can canned pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
2.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
Start melting the butter while you prepare the graham cracker crumbs.
Crush the graham crackers – you can put them in a gallon ziploc and use a rolling pin, or use your food processor. Next time I’ll use the food processor, they are not quite as crumbly as traditional graham crackers so they required some muscle to crush by hand.

Prepare the crust: Blend the graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar, and press into the bottom of the pan. Do not forget the non-stick spray like I did. Bake for 10 minutes, and allow to cool before adding the filling.

Prepare the filling: Blend the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth (use a stand or hand mixer). Add the eggs, mix until blended, then add the pumpkin, spices, and vanilla and mix again. You’ll need to scrape down the sides a couple times to make sure everything mixes well.

Pour the filling over the crust and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan before cutting into bars.

You can make this ahead of time – the crust keeps well and does not get soggy or anything. The kids loved it!


Two cool free e-books

Both of these Kindle books are currently free on Amazon. I love knitting and I love paleo so I was happy to grab both of them. You don’t have to have a Kindle to read them (I don’t) – there are apps that allow you to read on your phone or on your PC.

Welcome to Our Home – Knit and Crochet Ideas from Red Heart

I can’t wait to read this one – I am transitioning my boys to a Paleo/Primal WOE and looking for any ideas to help with the change.

The Paleo Kid’s Christmas: 16 Holiday Classics So They Don’t Miss A Thing (Primal Gluten Free Kids Cookbook)

As of this post these books are free but please check the pricing before ordering as this could change at any time.

Going into the holidays gluten-free (Part 1)

For months I kept seeing references to the book Wheat Belly, and for months I kept avoiding the book like the plague.  I’ve been a believer in low carb for quite awhile but not so great at sticking to my intentions.  I had a feeling that once I read Wheat Belly it would be a life changer.

It totally was.

I learned a lot about today’s wheat (and grains in general) and the information presented in the book was enough to convince me to back away from the wheat once and for all.  I went a week without it starting in late August and was feeling pretty good, if a bit off-kilter from the novelty of it all.  When we had a Lunch-and-Learn at work that Friday, I decided a few pieces of pizza wouldn’t hurt.

They totally did.

I felt awful after I ate the pizza – bloated, sick to my stomach, tired and achy. I was so uncomfortable. I was shocked by how strong my reaction was.  I’ve done some reading on gluten since and it’s super clear that I have a gluten intolerance.   As long as I was eating wheat regularly I was able to tolerate it to some degree.  My symptoms were more chronic than acute, and could be explained away as age, or a bad day, or something else mundane.  As soon as I stopped it for a time, my body started to heal and rebelled at the re-introduction.

I’ve had small amounts of wheat twice since then, and both times felt miserable afterwards.

When I avoid wheat, I have more energy than before (which I need, because my 5 year old hates sleep). I am sure I would sleep better if small people in my house didn’t wake at least once a night. I don’t have the aches and pains that I had before – I don’t ever need advil.  I never, ever have that awful gross bloated groggy full feeling after meals.

I’m slowly losing weight.  I’m good with slow because I feel like any change that happens slowly will become easier to sustain.  I am not always low carb as I would like, but just not eating wheat makes a difference.

So now I’m reading Grain Brain and contemplating how to bring my gluten-free ways into the holiday season, with the cookies and baked goods and other traditional temptations.  I’m not really tempted – I’m not – but I need a strategy.

Coconut Flour Brownies

It’s my birthday, and even though we’re having a quiet day at home I still need a treat, right?


I have made brownies with coconut flour several times before and they are amazing. I use a recipe from this book:  Cooking with Coconut Flour  I grabbed this cookbook when I first started exploring gluten free, lower carb cooking baking and it has turned into a great resource. It has some good information in general about the benefits of coconut, and then some great recipes.  There is a bit of a learning curve to baking with coconut flour but it’s well worth the effort.

This particular recipe has a decent amount of sugar so I would not classify it as paleo/primal, but it’s fine for a birthday treat in my world.

I’ve adapted the recipe slightly from the version in the book – mainly because I didn’t feel like melting butter or coconut oil. I used light tasting olive oil – I use this often when baking. Just make sure that  you choose light tasting – the regular EVOO would be way too strong for a sweet baked good.

Preheat to 350 and grease an 8×8 pan, preferably with coconut oil.

1/3 cup light tasting olive oil (or melted butter/coconut oil)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Blend these together until completely combined and set to the side.

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
splash of vanilla (I never measure vanilla, do you?)

Combine these ingredients and fold in the chocolate mixture from above.

Finally, sift in 1/2 cup coconut flour and 1/2 tsp of salt.  You definitely want to sift the coconut flour as it tends to clump. I like to sift a little in, mix, sift a little, mix… the batter tends to stay smoother that way.

Smooth into pan and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Let cool for awhile before serving.