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A Holistic Nutritionist’s Sugar-Free Pecan Pie with Gluten-Free Crust - Blog Image

A Holistic Nutritionist’s Sugar-Free Pecan Pie with Gluten-Free Crust

BY: Andrea Nakayama

DATE: 2009-11-01

For many years, my family focused on apple and pumpkin pies for our holiday feast. When my late husband and I eliminated highly processed sweeteners from our diet, it was difficult to think of pecan pie without its classical reliance on corn syrup. But over the years I found many alternatives to the sticky and processed sweetener, including the use of blended dates. This alternative is less sweet, equally as goopy, way more satisfying and nutrient-dense. Before I share my favorite pecan pie recipe, let’s explore the benefits of pecans from a nutritional point of view.

The health benefits of pecans

Pecans are high in monounsaturated fat and plant sterols, both of which support heart health. Pecans also have good stores of the fat soluble vitamins A, E, and K, as well as the B vitamins which can help mitigate stress and balance mood. I’d say those benefits are especially welcome during the holidays, wouldn’t you?! 

In terms of minerals, pecans pack an impressive punch of manganese, as well as lesser amounts of zinc, magnesium, and iron. The bottom line is that pecans are endowed with enough vitamins and nutrients to make them worthy of guilt-free consumption. So I say, indulge in a nibble (or two!) while preparing the Refined Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free Pecan Pie recipe that follows!

A Holistic Nutritionist’s Sugar-Free and Gluten-Free Pecan Pie

Although I can’t take credit for the creation of this recipe, it’s become a personal family tradition that’s too good not to share. The recipe comes from Holistic Nutritionist, Ani Phyo, taken directly from her book Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen.

Note: This recipe works equally well in a square or rectangular pan for bars. To take it a decadent step further, serve with some coconut cream.

Ingredients (all organic)

  • 1 cup raw cashews, dry

  • 1 vanilla bean, scraped, or one tspn vanilla extract

  • 1 tspn sea salt

  • 1-1/2 cup pitted dates

  • 1 cup shredded coconut


  • 1 medium orange, zested, peeled, and seeded; separating orange from zest

  • 1 cup pitted dates

  • 1 Tbspn ground cinnamon

  • 1-1/4 tspn ground cardamom

  • 1 tspn grated nutmeg

  • splash of water, as needed


  • 4 cups raw pecans, dry (soaked and dehydrated if that’s in your practice) with some roughly chopped or coarsely broken with hands


  1. To make the crust, pulse cashews, vanilla, and salt in a food processor. Slowly add dates and process into a dough-like-consistency. Empty bowl.

  2. Use some shredded coconut to “flour” the bottom of a pie or tart pan. (I like to use a tart pan where I can remove the sides.) Mix remaining coconut into the bowl with the cashew mixture. Press the dough into a “floured” pan.

  3. To make syrup, place orange into the bottom of the blender and blend to pulp. Add dates, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg and blend. Add a splash of water as needed to make a thick syrup. Set aside.

  4. To make filling, mix pecans, syrup, and 1 Tbspn of orange zest well. Spoon filling into crust.

Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Will keep in fridge for up to five days.


McKay DL, Eliasziw M, Chen CYO, Blumberg JB. A Pecan-Rich Diet Improves Cardiometabolic Risk Factors in Overweight and Obese Adults: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(3):339. Published 2018 Mar 11. doi:10.3390/nu10030339

Gonçalves B, Pinto T, Aires A, et al. Composition of Nuts and Their Potential Health Benefits-An Overview. Foods. 2023;12(5):942. Published 2023 Feb 23. doi:10.3390/foods12050942

Andrea Nakayama

By: Andrea Nakayama, FxNA Founder & Functional Medicine Nutritionist

Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.


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