Stepping Out of Your Food Comfort Zone

On Wednesday, I made apple pie.

I've made apple pie before, but never like this. If this was 6 years ago, I wouldn't have hesitated to buy a pre-made pie crust and a can of sugary apple pie filling and call it a day. Who doesn't love the convenience of ready-made ingredients? But convenience doesn't mean it's a better product. In fact, more often than not, it's the most convenient foods that are the worst for our health. We may have saved half an hour in the kitchen, but we're left with a huge deficit of nutrients and frankly a lack of skills!

Stepping out of our comfort zone isn't easy, but it's important every once in a while. In the case of the apple pie, my comfort zone was to not make a pie at all. I'm not confident enough to make my own pie crust, let alone a gluten-free pie crust that would be appropriate on my Renewal Detox. But I had quite a few cooking apples picked up at the market last weekend that needed using for something. So far this winter, all of the English Bramley apples I've bought have gone towards a spiced apple compote that I kept in jars in the fridge to go with breakfast. Sort of like a chunky applesauce with lots of warming spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. A spoonful of that on a bowl of warm grains in the morning? There's nothing like it. But this had become my comfort zone and it was time to face a new challenge. The elusive gluten-free pie crust. Not only that, I wanted to use whole foods ingredients (meaning as close to nature as possible) rather than a ready-made gluten-free flour mix or a margarine.

The added bonus: an egg. For those of you who don't subscribe to my monthly newsletter (but you really should!), you might have missed the news that I'm back on eggs. I've been looking forward to experimenting with adding my sensitivity-causing foods back in again (after all, it's been over 7 years), but of course there's been some hesitation. It's scary - I associate those foods with lots of negativity and unpleasantness. Out of the three foods, though, the one I've been most excited to re-introduce is the egg. So far, I've made three recipes involving eggs without any unusual symptoms. I consider this a resounding success! The rumors are true: you can absolutely heal yourself back to health after eliminating food sensitivities for a little while. I could have probably cut this time short and tried to reintroduce earlier but I've really only been focusing on eating for my health in the past year or two. Eliminating the foods you're intolerant to is only half of the equation... what you put in is just as important, if not more so.

I think this gluten-free brown rice flour pie crust is great. All too often, a gluten-free baked good is dry, too crispy, too tough, too crumbly. This crust is flaky, light, sticks together well, and doesn't give you that heavy bloated feeling after eating. I've used my favorite sweetener here, coconut sugar, but feel free to use an unrefined brown sugar (such as rapadura or sucanat). UK readers: I'd highly recommend Sweet Sensations or Red23 if you're looking for raw coconut sugar. I also used creamy goat's butter - not quite ready to jump back into cow's milk yet (and not sure I miss it enough anyway), so my kitchen is still very "Particular"! However, if you're a butter lover, look for the best you can find - grass-fed is gold!

I urge you to try stepping out of your food comfort zone and explore something new or foreign to you this week. Maybe it's a recipe you're nervous to try. Maybe it's a new food you've heard or read about. It could even be a restaurant you'd like to explore that's perhaps a different cuisine for you. Whatever the case, it feels good to challenge ourselves and to come out the other side feeling accomplished! This is so true for those of you like me with food sensitivities. While I'm not going to start eating omelettes every day, just knowing that I don't have to avoid eggs (such an important and nutritious food source) feels really really good.

*Note: If you're currently avoiding a food due to a sensitivity or allergy, I must recommend that you don't re-introduce that food without first consulting a nutrition expert or a doctor.   

Apple Pie with Brown Rice Crust

by The Particular Kitchen

Prep Time: 15 mins

Cook Time: 30 mins

Keywords: bake dessert gluten-free soy-free vegetarian wheat free pie

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

    For the Crust

    • 2 cups brown rice flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tbsp coconut sugar
    • pinch sea salt
    • 1 organic egg
    • 1/2 cup chilled organic grass-fed butter (or goat's butter or cold-pressed coconut oil)
    • cold water

    For the Filling

    • 3 large apples, peeled cored & chopped
    • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
    • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
    • 1 tsp arrowroot


    Preheat the oven to 425F and sprinkle a little brown rice flour to cover the bottom of a 9" pie pan.

    For the Crust

    Whisk the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl until well mixed.

    Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Rub the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles coarse sand with some small lumps of butter remaining.

    Stir in the beaten egg and 1/2 cup of chilled water. Mix with your hands to form a ball of dough. If your mixture is too dry, add more water. If too wet, add more flour.

    Transfer the dough to a piece of greaseproof paper and roll out to 1/4" thick crust. Flip onto the pie pan - if some of the crust breaks off, that's okay. Simply stick back together and crimp the edges with your fingers. Make sure the crust is pressed lightly into the bottom of the pan.

    Place in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

    For the Filling

    Toss all ingredients together in a bowl, making sure all the apple chunks are coated in the cinnamon sugar mixture.

    Transfer the apples to the prepared pie crust, spreading evenly.

    Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges of the crust are slightly browned and the apple mixture is bubbling.

    Leave to cool before slicing and serving!