Pumpkin Palooza: Grain-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Gnocchi with Browned Sage “Butter”

candida diet, vegan, grain-free, gluten-free pumpkin sage gnocchi on rickiheller.com

Seventh grade was a year of firsts for me. That year marked the first time I had to take a bus to get to school. It was the first time I had teachers who actually spoke French as their first language.  With the explosion of hormones suddenly making its appearance that year, it was the first time I found myself interested in more than just playing Champ with the guys at recess, or working out our math problems together.  Most memorably, it was the first time I went on a “real” diet.

As a chubby, nerdy kid, I was often the odd gal out while most of my girlfriends got scads of attention from the boys: guys flirted at recess as they took surreptitious glances at newly-sprung cleavage; they towered over girls on the bus ride home, leaning down to whisper jokes into their hair, giggling at some private joke; they chose my friends (some them, again and again), to play “spin the bottle” at socials (the name we used for parties in friends’ basements on Saturday nights).

I immediately attributed my lack of social life to my excessive girth and decided I had to lose weight. Consulting with my personal expert in weight loss (and, well, everything else), I asked The Nurse what she would do.

“Stillman Diet,” she pronounced. Then she explained what it was.

The Stillman Diet was basically the prototype of today’s paleo or high-protein diets.  You were allowed to eat as much protein-rich foods as you liked, but had to skip all grains, fruits, desserts–even vegetables. I vaguely recall eating a couple eggs for breakfast, cheese and more eggs for lunch, then chicken and cheese or a hamburger and cheese for dinner. Within days, the pounds started to fall away.

I lost weight, all right–and, within a few weeks, also lost my period, a good deal of my hair, the whiteness of my teeth, and my previously clear, glowing skin. After about three months of that nonsense, I realized it wasn’t worth being sick just to be thinner (and besides, the boys didn’t suddenly come knocking down my door–it took me several decades to figure out that their lack of interest had nothing to do with my weight, and everything to do with my own lack of self-esteem. If only I could go back and let that poor girl know that roundness was okay, that nature would take its course, that the boobs would show up eventually–and that, hey girl, there are plenty of guys who are just fine with zaftig).

gluten-free, grain-free, vegan, candida diet pumpkin gnocchi recipe on RickiHeller.com

Although I don’t “do” diets any more in the sense of “eat this specifically to lose weight,” I do follow a whole-foods, low glycemic, vegan diet. That means I eat whatever I feel like eating, within those boundaries. In fact, I suppose the anti-candida diet, in its most common form, is a variation on the high-protein or paleo diet, since most versions of the diet advocate “clean” meats and eggs, along with lots of veggies, few (or no) fruits, and few grains. (In the strictest sense, though, my diet isn’t paleo because I do eat legumes).

And while I don’t believe in denying oneself foods that one loves, I think there’s always a way to create something delectable within one’s own dietary boundaries.  It’s not that I “forbid” myself sugar; it’s just that I know I’d feel like crap, lose all kinds of energy, and immediately develop a raging red, painful, itchy rash all over my torso if I started eating it again. Worth it? I think not. Especially when I can have desserts that don’t trigger such a reaction.

That’s one of the benefits of being on the CFL (Candida For Life) diet in my mind: it has taught me to be more aware of, and sensitive to, what is and isn’t good for my particular body. And one of the things I’ve discovered lately is that I do much better when I limit the amount of grains I eat. Now, don’t get me wrong: I believe that grains are a healthful food, and I DO eat them; I’m not one of those people who advocates removing an entire food group from your daily food intake. I just can’t eat grains every day (or even several days in a row).  When I forget and overdo the chocolate chip cookies or the scones, I end up feeling a little less sprightly and my mood does suffer. That’s when I know it’s time to follow a grain-free regimen for a few days or a week.

In recent weeks, I’ve been following a mostly grain-free plan (with the exception of the occasional sprouted grain tortilla, as I mentioned on instagram), and must admit that my tummy has been very grateful. On the other hand, the HH, who can eat whatever the heck he wants to, has been requesting pasta for dinner lately.  Often, he’ll cook up his own linguine or fusilli and top it with some organic jarred pasta sauce (Gasp! Yes, I’m okay with that), but he did get me thinking about pasta and how I wish I could have it more often.

And then I had this idea.

vegan, grain-free, egg-free, gluten-free, vegan, candida diet pumpkin sage gnocchi recipe on rickiheller.com

Why not grain-free pasta? And why not my very favorite form of pasta–something I haven’t had in years because I’ve never found a gluten-free version I can eat? Why not–gnocchi?

You may recall my thwarted attempt at gnocchi from several years ago.  I didn’t want to repeat that failure (or those awful jokes) again. Instead, I thought I’d use one of my favorite grain-free flours along with my new favorite gluten-free binder, combined with the vegetable darling of the season, pumpkin–and see what I could whip up.

The result is a classic: pumpkin gnocchi with sage and browned “butter,” a totally irresistible combination.

These grain-free gnocchi couldn’t be easier, and yet they really work. The gnocchi are toothsome, with a springy bite and subtle pumpkin flavor. The fresh sage is the perfect foil for the squash, and the coconut oil works perfectly to bring it all together. And as a bonus, you get a serving of protein along with your pasta! In fact, I guess you could say this gnocchi is the love child of both the vegan and the paleo diets. Vegan and paleo–together? Now, that really would be a first.

Looking for Thanksgiving recipes? Here’s my mega roundup of 75+ Healthy, Whole Foods, Vegan & Gluten-Free recipes.

vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, pumpkin sage gnocchi recipe on rickiheller.com

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  1. brilliant! this is so full of my favourite things – bookmarking straight away. you always make eating vegan gluten free grain free just seem so delicious

    your story of high school reminds me why I have no desire to be that age again – and we had so much less pressure than teenagers today – what did your mum think of your diet?

    • Thanks, Johanna! 😀 I have no desire to be that age again, either, to be honest! I do agree with Oscar Wilde on this one–if only we knew back then what we know now, but could have the vitality of youth with which to use that knowledge! Oh, and if I recall, my mum was always on one kind of diet or other herself. . . so she most likely thought it was a good idea as long as I was losing weight. Of course, she had no concept of how unhealthy eating ONLY protein food would be!

  2. OMG, this looks amazing! Is there any other flour we can sub for the chickpea…i.e. coconut flour, etc???

    • Sasha, I would think any legume flour would be okay (eg garfava, lentil, pea), but I am not sure this would work with coconut flour or nut flours. I would wager that there are other pumpkin gnocchi recipes out there with those, though!

  3. “It’s not that I “forbid” myself sugar; it’s just that I know I’d feel like crap, lose all kinds of energy, and immediately develop a raging red, painful, itchy rash all over my torso if I started eating it again.”

    For me I also feel like crap when I eat foods I know I “shouldn’t.” I’m highly sensitive to food, so it makes it’s fairly easy to stick mostly with whole foods.

    I’ve developed a faint rash around the left side of my mouth (noticed it about 2 months ago) & it hasn’t gone away! It may be pregnancy related, but I’m wondering if it *could* also be candida related & maybe I should do the anti-candida diet…Would love to know your thoughts on this, Ricki.

    • Janae, I’m so sorry to hear about the rash! Of course I can neither diagnose nor provide medical advice, but if it were me, I’d probably look into it and give it a try. There’s nothing in the anti-candida diet as far as I know that would be harmful to pregnancy as long as you check with your healthcare provider if you plan to use the strong herbs or supplements that are often included in the diet.

  4. I love chickpea flour and I never would have thought of using it for making gnocchi. Is there anything I can use instead of psyllium? It is not available where I live! Could I sub in an egg? I assume psyllium is for binding the flour…

  5. Wow!!! Love this. Why have you not been able to eat pasta at all? Just too many grains? I wonder if other beans wold work w/ this.

    • Thanks, Adrienne! Sorry for any misunderstanding–yes, I can eat pasta (there are quite a few pasta recipes on the blog), but I just can’t eat it for, say, three days in a row. 😉 I’m good when I have pasta as an occasional food, not an everyday food (the way greens or flax are in my diet). 🙂

  6. Sharing now :)!

  7. What? Gnocchi? Totally going on my must-make pinterest board Ricki. Actually, can I just come for dinner soon? Please?

  8. This looks so wonderful Ricki! I love chickpea flour so any excuse to put it to use is good by me! Bonus that you’ve made it into one of my favourite pasta dishes AND added pumpkin!

  9. Woah Ricki! This looks so good! I’ve tried more traditional gnocchi before but with disastrous results. These look perfect and so easy!
    Loved, as always, reading your stories. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary too! (zaftig)

    • Thanks, Emma! They’re not quite as soft as traditional gnocchi, but boy, did they ever hit the spot for me!! And I guess you really DO need to visit New York–they use that word there all the time! 😉

  10. Are potatoes a no-no on the CFL diet? Or was there another reason you opted for a potato-free gnocchi?

    • Liz, I’m not following the CFL diet (if you mean the customized fat loss diet? Otherwise, not familiar with what that is). I don’t have anything against potatoes, but the texture wasn’t right with them, so went with these instead, as a lower-carb option. 🙂

  11. Oh, yum! Trying for dinner tonight!!!

  12. It seems the use of the vegetable broth isn’t included in the directions? Did I miss where we use the broth? I’m assuming we added it to the dough before we cooked them as I just made this recipe and they came out super dense and dry. Let me know, thanks!! Love the idea and the ingredients otherwise!

    • Hi Elisa,
      Yes, it’s right there in the second sentence of the instructions, where it tells you to add the pumpkin and broth. Sorry you missed it! And yes, they’d be much less dry with the broth included. 😉

  13. Hi there I can’t eat pumpkin – is there any substitute? Thanks!!

  14. Thanks Ricki! Sadly I cannot eat any starchy veg for time being. I’m also dairy and gluten free too :o( BUT I really want to ttry this recipe. Would any of the cruciferous vegetables work do you think? In place of the pumpkin? Or if not, then how about marrow? Thanks so much!

  15. Hi Ricki- I tried making these and I’m finding again that chickpea flour seems to smell/taste so strong with an aftertaste. I don’t know if it’s just me… Any suggestions on how to tone down the chickpea? Sorghum flour?
    Love your recipes and blog. Trying to follow the ACD with all your help! Thank you!

    • Hi Stephanie,
      That’s a tough one, given that the main ingredient is the chickpea flour! I wonder if it depends on the brand? If you don’t mind a gnocchi that isn’t grain-free, you could certainly try another flour, such as sorghum or even an all-purpose mix. . . but in that case, I’d recommend just finding a recipe for “regular” gluten-free gnocchi instead, made with grain flour (it sounds like you’re okay with that?). I used the chickpea flour specifically because I didn’t want grains in this recipe. Hope that helps! (And glad you’re mastering the ACD! Yay!) 🙂

      • Hi Ricki! I’m happy to announce that I made the gnocchi and they are just wonderful! I was nervous that the dough wouldn’t convert into such a great bite! Thanks for responding to my last comment! 🙂

  16. Made the gnocchi last night and it was delicious! I was skeptical…thought they would fall apart, but they were great.

    I plan to try them in chicken and dumplings…can’t wait! Thank you for all your hard work!

    • So glad you liked them, June! And I think they’d work well as dumplings, too. Thanks for the reminder that I need to make these again soon! 🙂

  17. I made my first batch the other day and it turned out amazing! I made a whole bunch and put some in the freezer too! Would you say the recipe could easily be adapted to add in some lightly steamed greens to the recipe?

    • So glad you liked it, Genny!! I think you could add finely chopped fresh greens, up to about 1/2 or 3/4 cup (max) per recipe. I wouldn’t stema them first, as they’ll be lightly “steamed” just by being in the water when you cook the gnocchi. I am guessing that the texture of the gnocchi would be firmer (and wouldn’t fall apart) if you do not steam the greens first. But I haven’t made them this way yet–so please take that into account! And if they work out, come back and let us know so other readers can try it that way if they wish, too! 🙂

  18. Delicious – the first of your recipes I’ve tried – thank you, they were excellent! I had the leftovers with some tomato passata & the rest of the sage, microwaved at work & they still tasted good:) Now to try others from here……

  19. I was simply looking for a gluten free pumpkin recipe I could prepare for dinner that would suit everyone and what a blessing to find this one! I am allergic to potatoes and haven’t been eating gnocchi in a long time!
    Can’t wait ?

  20. I tried making these for dinner this evening and they were soooo good! I’ve tried making gnocchi before and was not impressed, but these were delicious!!!

    I replaced the psyllium with an equal amount of ground flaxseed (which I re-ground in my blender to make sure that it was finely ground), and I used a vegan buttery spread instead of the coconut oil. Also I used sage from my garden and that is Really Intense sage, so I cut the amount in half.

    I will definitely make this again. Thanks!


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