Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
17 Oct

Primal Pies: Fill ‘er Up

A few weeks ago we previewed a recipe for a flourless pie crust. Our only regret? We didn’t actually tell you what you could be filling those pie crusts with!

With the fall season now in full swing (seriously… where did summer go?) we wanted to offer up a few Primal pie fillings. Granted, some are higher than we’d like in carb counts, but when you compare it to the alternatives, it looks a whole lot…errr…sweeter!

For all pies listed below, we recommend using our flourless pie crust recipe:

1 1/4 cups almond meal
2/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp (approximately) of icy water

Combine almond flour and salt in a mixing bowl, stir in coconut oil and mix until mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in water, 1 tbsp at a time, until a dough is formed. Refrigerate until ready to use. When ready, roll out and place in a pie dish. Fill your favorite fruit (we recommend apples, but blueberries are also delicious) and bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until crust turns a rich golden brown.

Primal Pumpkin Pie Filling

Pumpkin Pie

What would a Thanksgiving be if there were no pumpkin pie? Here’s a recipe which, although less sweet than traditional (read: horrendously unhealthy!) pumpkin pie, is an excellent substitute that is sure to please the palate!

1.5 cups fresh or canned pumpkin (not to be confused with pumpkin pie filling, which comes pre-sweetened.)
3 eggs
3/4 cup maple sugar flakes
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ginger

Mix all filling ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a lightly pre-cooked pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until golden.

If you are so inclined, add a dollop of freshly whipped cream to the pie instead of that Cool Whip junk.

Disclaimer: Reader Holly recommended this recipe (thanks Holly!) as one of her favorites. We can’t attest to the maple sugar flakes, but we have to admit that they are compelling. It is basically dried maple syrup. Click here and here to view a manufacturer’s site for more info, and let us know what you think in the comment boards – especially if you’ve actually used them.

Fit Day Nutrition Breakdown:
According to the fine folks over at, this recipe as listed contains:

Cal: 2463
Fat: 251
Carbs: 42
Protein: 45

Cal: 813
Fat: 64.4
Carbs: 43.6
Protein: 27

Cal: 3276
Fat: 314.8
Carbs: 85.6
Protein: 71.8

Divided by 8:
Cal: 410
Fat: 39
Carbs: 11
Protein: 9

Good Ol’ Fashioned Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie

There’s nothing more American than good ol’ apple pie, so do your patriotic duty – without sacrificing your diet rights – with this delicious recipe.

3 cooking apples, sliced
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

In a large bowl, combine apples, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss until apples are evenly coated. Spoon into pie crust and dot top with butter pieces. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit until apples are tender when pierced with a knife. Cool slightly before serving. To punch up the recipe, top with some chopped pecans.

Fit Day Nutrition Break Down:
According to the fine folks over at, this recipe as listed contains:

Cal: 2463
Fat: 251
Carbs: 42
Protein: 45

Cal: 509
Fat: 1.3
Carbs: 135
Protein: 2.6

Cal: 2972
Fat: 252.3
Carbs: 177
Protein: 47.6

Divided by 8:
Cal: 371
Fat: 31
Carbs: 22
Protein: 6

Give these a try this holiday season and then come back with your comments. We’d love to hear how you think they taste compared to more traditional recipes, if the pies turned out for you, and what, if any, modifications you made to the recipes.

eszter, CaptPiper Flickr Photos (CC)

Further Reading:

Eat This Today, Feel Better Tomorrow: Dessert Edition!

10 Ways to Forage in the Modern World

How to Eat More Fat

Top 10 Ways to “Go Nuts”

SlashFood: Organic Maple Flakes

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Unfortunately in my experience, there is just no way to make a decent pumpkin pie without sweetener. I think we will stick to the apple this year which still sounds quite delicious!

    Son of Grok wrote on October 17th, 2008
    • I often do baked apples instead of pie…1 teaspoon of maple syrup and baking caramelizes the apples so they’re naturally sweet. Greek yogurt in lieu of whipped cream.

      chiromom wrote on November 23rd, 2010
    • The Maple Syrup flakes are the sweetener for the pumpkin pie :)

      Danger wrote on October 14th, 2014
  2. I’d agree with you there Grok. I also have a tough time doing my pumpkin pie without whipped topping of some sort. When it comes to whipped topping, I’ll cave and use a bit of tasty, tasty artificial sweetness.

    And on the apple pie, it still all boils down to what apples you use. Since there’s no sugar in the filling recipe, I’d suggest a sweeter pick.

    Samson wrote on October 17th, 2008
  3. The maple flakes in the pumpkin pie filling are great! They compliment the taste of the pumpkin very well (think pumpkin with a splash of maple… mmmmm), while adding a sweetness to the flavor. The best part is, if bought organic, they are 100% natural, have half the calories of other sugars/natural sweeteners, have a low GI impact, and pack a healthy punch of manganese.

    Holly wrote on October 17th, 2008
  4. Thanks for the info holly. I have a major problem with one of the links touting the healhiness of maple flakes. According to their chart on sweetners, Honey is listed as the worst with “White Granulated Suger” being the closest to maple flakes. If that is a list to show whats healthiest, I think they are looking at the wrong thing. As we all know from mark, everything on the list spikes insulin and should be avoided if possible. I would be more interested if maple flakes prove to be lower on the glycemic index but the website just says “Our sources say it’s likely that maple flakes are quite low on the glycemic index” which isn’t too re-assuring. There is also the question of volume/sweetness that they don’t really take into effect. It might take more than a tsp of maple flakes to obtain the sweetness of 1 tsp of honey… I don’t know if that is true or not, I am just speculating. I know that 1 tsp of honey and 1 tsp of refined sugar are not created equal. Until we see more research/info on them, I am just going to stick to the no-sweetner attitude that I know works for me!

    Son of Grok wrote on October 17th, 2008
  5. I try to use powdered or liquid stevia as a sweetener. It is just an herb. You have to be careful though and buy a good brand, cheaper brands can have a bitter taste. My favorite is the little packets made by NuNatural. I keep them in my purse and use them to sweeten tea or coffee when I want a sweet taste. I also use in food I make for my kids that I want to sweeten for them. I am sure it could work in the pumpkin pie recipe instead of the maple flakes. Not sure about how much to put in but I am sure that info could be figured out with an online stevia search.

    Jenn wrote on October 17th, 2008
  6. Jenn, you’re right that not all stevias are the same. I’ve had some horrid stevias. My favorite is KAL brand Stevia.

    I plan to make this pumpkin pie recipe using stevia– I think about 3 tiny scoops should sweeten it sufficiently.

    Ellen wrote on October 17th, 2008
  7. An alternative to pumpkin is permelon, a sweeter relative of the pumpkin. I’m not sure how common it is, but it grows fine here in Southwestern VA and I can get it at the farmers market. People make permelon butter with it, similar to apple butter, or serve it like any other squash. I’m sure it would make a fantastic pie filling, I ought to get one next week to try it out.

    Heather wrote on October 18th, 2008
    • Where on earth may I find permelon seed?

      susan coburn wrote on February 15th, 2012
      • This is a real old hierloom seed i have hunted all over the net too find them but havnt been able too get any. this is another name for the app. mtn squash best bet is too go too a farmers market in southern wv or in va when ripen season is done and buy a couple get seed from them only way i have found them. Lost my seed too mice this year so now thats what ive got too do. Takes a average of 112 days too grow.

        Ricky McGuire wrote on May 20th, 2012
    • West Virginia Permelon seeds are being sold by Gaston Clark, HC 85, Box 61A, Jumping Branch, WV 25969.

      You can call Mr. Clark at (304)466-4716.

      Terry wrote on April 28th, 2013
  8. Only three apples for apple pie? I usually use 5-6! I like your crust recipe. I do something similar but less primal, combining oat flour and almond meal. I found all-nut-flour crusts didn’t quite work, so I compromised.

    Nice to know the coconut oil works. I’ve been meaning to try that for a friend with a dairy allergy.

    Food Is Love/Seattle Local Food

    Huckleberry wrote on October 20th, 2008
  9. Thanks for sharing this crust recipe! I will give a shot with my dairy-free erythritol sweetened pumpkin pie this year.

    Lauren wrote on November 9th, 2008
  10. My crust melted a bit cooking this for 30 minutes. Otherwise it’s good.

    Maple flakes are pure sucrose though, which is 50% fructose by weight once the digesting system gets a hold of it. That hits the liver pretty hard.

    Brock wrote on November 27th, 2008
  11. I had some problem with the pie crust consistency. The 2nd time around I used 3/4 cup almond meal and 1/2 cup corn meal. Much better consistency. I’ll have to mess around more with pure almond meal and adding an egg or honey to make it stick better.

    Kevin wrote on January 14th, 2009
  12. Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. Yes, working with almond meal for baking purposes can be pretty tricky. Sometimes it helps if the almond meal is ground to a very fine consistency. But be careful if you do it yourself. If you go too far you’ll end up with almond butter.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 15th, 2009
    • I also am having trouble with the consistency. mine looked more like oatmeal. I have it in the fridge right now trying to form. My coconut oil was liquid, is that my problem?
      Thanks for your help.

      janice wrote on August 8th, 2010
    • Well I made 2 pies last night! The first crust with coconut flour, and this recipe. I am wondering if this recipe could be misprinted! This is WAY to much coconut oil for the amount of Almond flour, I ended up with a soupy mess not a “dough” so I made more Almond flour and dished out my “soup” until I had the consistency I wanted…..which I figure is more like 3 TBSP of coconut oil. YUMMY! best pie by far out of the two! Cant wait to make it again for Thanksgiving! THX

      Felicia wrote on November 5th, 2010
  13. Looking for a good Rhubarb and strawberry recipe

    Kristy Bachman wrote on March 27th, 2009
  14. I recently ate a piece of fruit tart in Colorado Springs where the crust was made with almond meal, butter, sugar etc. The chef was kind enough to volunteer the ingredients but not the amounts. I certainly understand. But if any of you know the tart recipe, I would love to have it. Thanks! julie anne

    julie anne wrote on October 3rd, 2009
  15. I know this post comes a year late, but I’m hoping for some feedback anyway. I tried making the nut crust last night, and it was a bit of a disaster!

    With 2/3rds cup of coconut oil, the mixture was so wet, it was impossible to form dough. We had to add twice as much almond flour just to make it somewhat solid, and even then, the crust is just dripping with oil. (Almost too heavy to eat!) Besides that, coconut oil dripped all over the oven and burned. Quite a toxic evening!

    In any case, I wanted to check if the proportions were right, or if others might have had this problem. Because the pie came out quite nicely, otherwise!

    (Incidentally, for our pie, we just used unsweetened pumpkin, spices, and some currants for sweetness. I don’t know why everyone else is all up in arms: I think the taste of unsweetened pumpkin is quite sweet, all on its own — I suppose some people are only comfortable eating what they’re used to…)


    Jeremy wrote on October 12th, 2009
  16. Why maple flakes and not agave? I know I’ve seen some of the posts saying that agave is bad… but honestly agave has a lower glycemic index. I’ve had to use it because my hypoglycemic and it really doesn’t spike my blood sugar.

    Seriina wrote on December 1st, 2009
    • Agave doesnt’ spike your blood glucose because it is mainly fructose — it does spike your blood fructose, which is terrible for you. Do a bit of reasearch into it, I urge you.

      Cam wrote on May 13th, 2011
  17. You know, when doing the pumpkin pie… all you really need is the pureed pumpkin and the spices… no need to add the other extras like coconut milk and maple sugar flakes… you can simply sweeten the mixture with stevia. I eat that mixture every morning for breakfast and it tastes just like the real thing… with even less calories then what your recipe calls for.

    GG wrote on December 31st, 2009
  18. Agave Syrup is advertised as “low glycemic” and marketed towards diabetics. It is true, that agave itself is low glycemic. We have to consider why agave syrup is “low glycemic.” It is due to the unusually high concentration of fructose (90%) compared to the small amount of glucose (10%). Nowhere in nature does this ratio of fructose to glucose occur naturally. One of the next closest foods that contain almost this concentration of glucose to fructose is high fructose corn syrup used in making soda(HFCS 55), which only contains 55% fructose. Even though fructose is low on the glycemic index, there are numerous problems associated with the consumption of fructose in such high concentrations as found in concentrated sweeteners

    Strawberries wrote on January 4th, 2010
  19. The Fitday carb count for the pumpkin pie filling seems low. The pumpkin alone is about 30g and I figure, at 7.5 calories of sugar per tsp, 36 tsp in the recipe, and 4 calories per gram of carb, that the maple sugar flakes have almost 70g of carbs. Total carbs for the filling, then, is about two-and-a-half times the Fitday number.

    I made a pie last night. It is delicious. Like others, I had problems with the crust. Basically, it melted while precooking and floated to the top when I poured in the filling. So now I have a pumpkin pie with the crust on top; not ideal, but very edible.

    I think I’ll skip the maple sugar next time. Also, I’ll try a different crust recipe. I might substitute cold lard for the coconut oil. I also found a promising one at

    Almond Flour Pie Crust (Gluten Free)

    3 cups almond flour
    2 tablespoons sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon baking soda
    4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
    one large, beaten egg

    Again, maybe skip the sugar. This one (from is similar:

    1 cup almond flour
    1 egg
    1 cap Pure Vanilla Extract
    1 tbsp butter
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    enough sugar substitute or honey to sweeten crust
    pinch of salt

    Glenn Ammons wrote on October 11th, 2010
    • Quick update: I tried the recipe at, both with and without sugar, and it was great both times. It holds together just as well as a flour crust and has a wonderful almond flavor. I used Honeyville Grains almond flour.

      I also tried the filling without maple sugar and with 2T butter in for the coconut milk. I liked it but my carb-loving wife took one bite and declared it “not pie”.

      Glenn Ammons wrote on November 9th, 2010
    • Hi, I tried the link for the first pie crust recipe and ended up not being able to access the site (it said I wasn’t invited to read that site) but want to try this recipe. My question is at what point do you add the egg? I’m assuming that you mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter but what about the egg? Thanks for any help on this. I’m attempting my first gluten-free (mostly) Thanksgiving and have to make apple pie.

      Trisha Saunders wrote on November 19th, 2015
  20. If you want to make pumpkin cupcakes instead, skip the pie crust, mix a little (1/2 cup?) almond flour into the batter and pour it into individual cupcake tins. Perfectly light and tasty.

    Ryan Tanner wrote on October 16th, 2010
  21. great recipe. tried it once, even my kids can’t get enough.

    rob towles wrote on October 20th, 2010
  22. too bad i didn’t read these reviews first…i added flour to mine to make it work.

    gnataxela wrote on October 21st, 2010
  23. I think there must be an error in the carb content estimated above for the primal pie. Granulated sweeteners I’ve seen in stores, whether dried honey or maple syrup, are very carb dense. It doesn’t look like they were factored in above. When I’ve seen maple granules they’ve been very high in carbs (like sugar) and expensive.

    Here’s a Pumpkin Custard Pie w/out crust that I’ve been making for about 10 years.

    It uses honey & stevia together, so you don’t taste the stevia but you cut the carbs. It tastes best with winter squash baked at home rather than purchased in a can.

    Chef Rachel Albert wrote on November 4th, 2010
  24. I am in the process of making the pumpkin pie. I started with the above crust recipe, but, like others mentioned, it melted during the pre-cooking, so I just threw it out. Used a crust recipe that has worked for me in the past (1 1/4 c almond flour, 4 tbsp melted butter). I sweetened the filling with 1/8 c maple syrup, and 2 tsps pumpkin pie spice instead of separate spices,, and it tastes just like the “real” thing! That was pre-baked, though. If I don’t update this comment, assume the same is true for the baked version. And replying to Son of Grok’s comment (two years late), I don’t get it. The maple flakes in the recipe is a sweetener. Or, use maple syrup.

    It's Me! wrote on November 25th, 2010
    • Correction: 1 1/2 c almond meal/flour, NOT 1 1/4. Sorry ’bout that.

      It's Me! wrote on November 25th, 2010
  25. Instead of using maple sugar flakes, I made my filling with two tablespoons of maple syrup and a quarter teaspoon of stevia extract (the pure white stuff), and it came out great. I find that stevia works best when used with a small amount of real sweetener.

    Also, I didn’t use pumpkin. I used a large, orange, bumpy, heirloom winter squash from the whole foods store. I cut it in half, scooped out the seeds, and baked it cut side down on a rimmed cookie sheet at 400 degrees for one hour.

    Alex wrote on November 26th, 2010
  26. Wow…really wish I had read these comments before I tried to make three pies for Thanksgiving tomorrow. I had a horrible time with the crust and was getting very frustrated. Am going to try the one with butter that ‘Me!’ suggested instead.

    Abigail wrote on November 26th, 2010
    • I just made another pumpkin pie, this time with Me!’s crust recipe, and I like it a lot better than the crust with egg in it that I made the other day. It’s quite light and crumbly, but not so much that it falls apart when taking slices of pie out of the plate.

      Alex wrote on November 27th, 2010
  27. I have tried the almond flour crust recipes from Elana Amsterdam’s book, The Gluten Free Almond Flour Cookbook with great results! They use much less oil. Elana swears by blanched almond flour (skins removed) over almond meal that contains almond skins). Having tried making recipes w/both flours, I agree w/her.

    She has some amazing recipes that you could modify by looking at Mark’s recipes (replace agave nectar with honey and much less and you could add some stevia if needed)

    Chef Rachel Albert wrote on November 27th, 2010
  28. I also do what Alex does, replacing canned pumpkin with baked winter squash. The squash is usually sweeter (always fresher and more flavorful), and can allow you to use less sweetener.

    If you’re still making squash things over the winter (and why not, it’s a healthy primal food?) try butternut, buttercup, kabocha, hokaido, and honey delight squashes. I make an amazing Paleo Pumpkin/Squash Muffin using blanched almond flour and squash. Comes our great in regular muffin tins or mini muffin tins (cut back baking time for these). Great way to satisfy your sweet tooth w/very little sweetener.

    Chef Rachel Albert wrote on November 27th, 2010
  29. It being around holiday time, I was so excited to find this post! My first pie crust failed completely, and I wasn’t sure why. It just got runny and yucky and really didn’t look appetizing (though the apples tasted delicious). On the second go-around I decided to bake the crust first. 5 minutes at 450 worked just perfectly! These recipes are great, especially when dealing with family members who aren’t the most supportive/don’t understand. I found that keeping my mouth shut and letting the delicious pie do the talking worked wonders!

    Maya wrote on December 17th, 2010

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