Here’s a little thing I need to confess. For a while, I harbored bad feelings towards the gluten-free community. I guess I just thought it was really suspicious that all of a sudden everyone and their grandma was allergic to gluten. And I was all, okay, some people are obviously explosively allergic, like the way people have serious, life and death peanut or shellfish allergies, and that is something you don’t want to joke about.
But ASIDE from that, I kept thinking, I understand that gluten might not make you feel good, but are you really allergic to it? Or are you just paranoid and pampered? Of course, personal choices are different, like deciding not to eat meat anymore, but this complete running from gluten? Even when someone makes you delicious cookies? Even just once every now and then? I mean, how many people on the edge of existence do you see turning down bread? It always seems to be the people with plenty who turn out to have weird food allergies.
Nowhere in that thought process did I stop and think, Wait, is it really my job to decide how allergic other people are and monitor their eating habits based on my conclusions? Which is to say, I never stopped and thought that other people’s allergies or eating habits just aren’t my business.
Anyway, I was harboring all these little weedly, uncomfortable, insensitive thoughts. And then. And THEN. I had to get allergy tested because of my extreme hay fever. While I was expecting the results to show very high allergies to grass, dust, and mold, I was pretty shocked to see a host of foods I’ve always just “not liked that much” on the allergy list (like cantaloupe and walnuts), along with…wait for it…wheat.
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So, then I felt pretty stupid.
But, don’t kid yourself. Did this girl stop eating bread and pasta and turn around and embrace the gluten-free community? No. No, she did not.
Instead, I pretended it was all bogus, and I started eating more wheat (and walnuts and cantaloupe too) just to prove that it was all hogwash. One little problem, I DID feel a ton better if I ever did limit my wheat intake (go figure). So, now I’m in this place where I have to admit that mild to moderate food allergies are real, even if we didn’t start recognizing them as a culture until recent years. EVEN if they’re not severe and deadly, they’re real, EVEN IF it is slightly annoying to cook for them at potlucks, and people have a right to not eat wheat if it makes them feel better. Many of you arrived at a similar conclusion before I did, I’m sure.
Still, for my own self. I can’t cut wheat out entirely, because: 1) Pasta, and 2) Wheat is everywhere, and I don’t want to be unnecessarily difficult when people have gone out of their way to cook something for me. I mean, considering it doesn’t make me sick so much as “less good.” This is probably not an advisable stance.
All of this to tell you, I made a gluten-free dessert. And I loved it. I imagined it would be tasty but just missing that certain je ne sais quoi, but it wasn’t. It was rich and satisfactory and delicious, and a great alternative to pecan pie–no baking, no fuss, and no corn syrup either.
I used Steen’s cane syrup (it’s just boiled, reduced cane sugar) instead of Maple syrup, because I didn’t want the maple overtaking the pie flavor I was going for.
Note: Omitting the chocolate, not toasting the nuts, and swapping the Steen’s for raw honey would make also make this raw/paleo? Pershmaps? I’m not an expert.
Pecan Pie Bars
Makes an 8×8 pan of squares
2 cups dates, pitted
3 cups pecans halves or pieces
1 cup dried, flaked, unsweetened coconut
3 Tablespoons coconut oil
2 Tablespoons Steen’s syrup
¼ cup water
¾ teaspoon salt
Optional: 1 ½ cups dark chocolate chips
1. Toast pecans on a sheetpan in a 375 F oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a food processor pulverize 1 cup pecans and all the coconut flake until a coarse meal forms. Add 1 cup dates, 1 Tablespoon coconut oil, and ½ teaspoon sea salt, and process until a smooth paste forms.
3. In a plastic- or parchment-lined 8 x 8 baking dish, press crust mixture into a smooth layer. Freeze while preparing other ingredients.
Chocolate Layer (Optional)
1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate chips without burning. Pour most of the chocolate onto the crust and spread into a smooth layer. Return crust to freezer. Reserve remaining chocolate and set aside.
1. Back in food processor, blitz 1 cup pecans until the size of pencil erasers or smaller, and set aside. Add remaining 1 cup dates, ¼ cup water, 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, and 2 Tablespoons Steen’s syrup to processor, and blitz well. When nearly smooth, add in the 1 cup pecan pieces, process briefly, only until combined.
2. Pour this filling over the crust and chocolate, and spread until smooth. Press remaining 1 cup of pecans into the top. Drizzle with remaining melted chocolate (reheat, if necessary).
3. Freeze for several hours, preferably overnight, then lift out with plastic and slice. Store in fridge or freezer.