Celebrate National Pecan Day with a Healthified Pecan Pie

15th Apr 2014 / By Guest Contributor

Yesterday was National Pecan Day, a day to celebrate the eponymous ingredient of the ubiquitous Thanksgiving pie. Though most popular around the holidays, pecans are a healthy treat that have been around for centuries; in fact, pecans are the only major tree nut native to North America. But there’s a lot more to this buttery-tasting nut than most people think. They actually boast a whole host of health benefits!

Pecans are high in heart-healthy fat, protein, and fiber, and are a good source of nutrients like manganese, copper, magnesium, and zinc. Plus, they’re chock-full of free-radical fighting antioxidants (more than any other tree nut!) and are among the top 15 antioxidant-containing foods. Such high levels of antioxidants means they’re a great ally in helping you prevent Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer. But while pecans are a nutrient powerhouse the common pecan pie, well, isn’t. It’s full of corn syrup, refined sugar, and butter – not exactly the definition of healthy.


To celebrate National Pecan Day in a more nutritious way, I created a “healthified” pecan pie full of nutrient-packed swaps including heart-healthy coconut oil in place of butter, low-GI coconut sugar instead of refined sugar, and antioxidant-packed, immune system-boosting maple syrup in place of corn syrup. Plus, this recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and can be considered paleo. Pretty sweet, huh?

Healthified Pecan Pie

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In the bowl of your food processor, pulse pecans for about 30 seconds until they resemble finely ground meal.
2. Add in sea salt, coconut sugar, and gelatin and pulse 1-2 times.
3. Add egg yolk and coconut oil and pulse until well combined.
4. Evenly press the mixture into and up the sides of a 9” pie pan to form the crust. Place in the refrigerator while you make the filling.


  • 1 cup grade B 100% pure maple syrup
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cup pecan halves

1. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, simmer the maple syrup until it reaches 225°F, about 10 minutes. In the meantime, place coconut sugar and coconut oil in a medium bowl.
2. Once the syrup reaches 225°F, quickly pour it over the sugar and oil. Let stand for one minute and then whisk together until thoroughly combined, then whisk in eggs, vanilla, and sea salt.
3. Pour filling into prepared pie crust and top with pecans.
4. Cover the crust with foil or a pie shield and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 15 minutes. If the filling is not set in the center (it should have just a slight jiggle), bake in 5 minute increments up to 60 minutes – the bake time tends to be a big variable with pecan pie depending on the heat of the oven it’s baked in. Additionally, the filling may puff up slightly in the center but will settle once it cools.
5. Once removed from the oven, let cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This pecan pie is a healthy, tasty alternative that can be enjoyed year-round. Oh, and here’s one more interesting tidbit… there are three ways to pronounce this tasty nut’s name: pih-con, pih-kan, and pee-kan, all of which are considered correct. How do you pronounce pecan?

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