Wednesday, October 9, 2013

It's the great pumpkin ... !

A harvest of pumpkins at a roadside market in Ithaca, NY.

Nothing proclaims “Fall is here!” more loudly than a big orange pumpkin! As soon as those wondrous squashes reappear in big bins in front of grocery stores, among famers’ markets offerings, and on neighborhood doorsteps, I can’t wait to get a taste of my first pumpkin treat of the season.

Unfortunately, celiac disease has robbed me of my favorite fall treat. I weep daily over the fact that I can no longer indulge in Andy’s Frozen Custard Pumpkin Pie Concretes. (“Wa-ah, wa-ah, wa-ah! Call the wa-ambulance!” as my coaching friend Jeff Edge used to say to his whining players.)

With a simple substitution, however, my second favorite fall pumpkin treat is still available to me.  I found a recipe called Pumpkin Pecan Perfection a few years ago in Midwest Living Magazine (at least, that’s where I think I found it, so they’re getting the credit), which immediately became a family favorite. Here’s my gluten-free version. (No, it’s not the least bit healthy, so turn back now, if you are trying to follow the high road to physical wellbeing.)

GF Pumpkin Pecan Perfection

1 large can (approx. 28 oz.) pumpkin
1 C. sugar
3 eggs
1 large can (approx. 14 oz.) evaporated milk
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt

Mix well and pour into a greased 9x13” pan. Sprinkle one box of yellow gluten-free cake mix over the pumpkin layer. (Betty Crocker has a dandy one that you can usually find right there with the “normal” cake mixes! Or you can use any gluten-free yellow or white cake mix. )

Sprinkle 1 ½ C. chopped pecans over the cake mix. Drizzle with 1 ½ to 2 sticks of melted butter or oleo over the top. Bake at 350 for one hour. Cool and top with Cool Whip or ice cream.

I’d be almost willing to wager that, if you like pumpkin at all, this stuff is better than any chocolate treat you’ve ever had!

Kroger brand pumpkin pie yogurt.
Many other pumpkin-flavored treats are also available to folks with gluten issues. Yoplait, for example, is rumored to have a gluten-free pumpkin-flavored yogurt, but I have yet to find it. One of my friends says she saw pumpkin yogurt at Aldi, but I couldn’t find it there, either. I did find the pumpkin flavor (Kroger brand) at my local Dillons store, though, and they also offer a GF Cinnamon Roll flavor. Yum! If you want something a bit healthier, here’s a recipe for making a treat with Chobani, Fage, or other plain Greek yogurts:

Pumpkin Greek Yogurt

1/3 C. 2% Greek yogurt
1/3 C pumpkin
1 tsp. ground flax
2 tsp. unsweetened coconut
1 tsp. chia seeds
Drizzle of honey

Mix all together and enjoy.  (Recipe from

Pumpkin ice cream is in season, too. Edy’s and Breyers pumpkin-flavored ice cream is gluten-free, and I’m sure that there are others out there as well.  As always, check the labels before you eat it. Some companies put bits of piecrust in the ice cream, which is definitely off-limits! There are many recipes for homemade pumpkin ice cream on the Internet, if you’re feeling industrious—I plan to try one in the near future (as soon as my feeling of industry returns).

If it’s pumpkin pie you’re craving, there are (allegedly) some decent frozen gluten-free pie shells on the market, including crusts from Kinnikinnick and Whole Foods, but you can’t find them just anywhere. I picked up a couple of the Kinnikinnick brand at Mama Jeans Natural Foods Store just today, so I’ll be testing those soon.

Your best bet for pie crusts is to make your own from scratch or by using crust mixes, such as those from Glutino, Better Batter, The Gluten-Free Pantry, or Bob’s Red Mill.  Prepare your own favorite filling and substitute the crust. I’ve never been very good at pies, so I honestly haven’t tried too hard. I made a (barely) decent strawberry pie once using a mix from Namaste, but it was nothing to blog (or even write home) about.

While I’m on the topic, check out this Pumpkin Fluff Dip that I lifted from Allrecipes. Serve it with any GF ginger snaps, such as Mi-Del, or with Gluten-Free S’moreables Graham Style Crackers from Kinnikikinnick. (Love, love, love those!)

A clever serving idea!
Pumpkin Fluff Dip

1 (16 oz.) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 (5 oz.) package instant vanilla pudding
1 (15 oz.) can solid pack pumpkin
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

In a large bowl, mix together instant vanilla pudding mix, pumpkin, and pumpkin pie spice. Fold in the thawed frozen whipped topping. Chill in the refrigerator. Make a clever serving bowl by cutting off the top of a small pumpkin and scraping out the seeds.

Even if you must avert your eyes as you pass an Andy’s Frozen Custard stand (“Wa-ah, wa-ah, wa-ah!”), you can still enjoy the fun and flavor of fall!