Pumpkin Custard and Wild Rice Stuffing

Ananda Headshot Ananda Kaplan

I love creating healthy and delicious recipes for Thanksgiving! Our wild rice stuffing recipe is a great alternative to traditional bread stuffing. It is naturally gluten-free and can be made vegan. The mushrooms, fresh herbs, chestnuts, dried cranberries, and nuts provide the comforting holiday flavors we love in a stuffing and pairs beautifully with holiday mains.

For dessert, our pumpkin custard has a silky smooth, creamy pumpkin deliciousness with just the right amount of spice. These beautifully baked custards are extremely satisfying; you won’t even miss having a crust. This recipe is gluten-free and free of refined sugar. It’s easy to make, too, since all the ingredients are placed together in a blender or food processor.

Pumpkin Custard

Servings: 8 using ½ cup ramekins or 9-inch pie pan

  • 1 15 oz carton of puree pumpkin puree or 1 ½ cups of pureed pumpkin from a roasted sugar pumpkin
  • 2 eggs*
  • 1 cup of non-dairy (full fat coconut, thick oat, or hazelnut work well) or dairy half and half
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp tapioca or cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice or ½ tbsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground ginger, 1/8 tsp allspice, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, and 1/8 tsp clove
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp salt

*If you do not use eggs add 2 extra tablespoons of cornstarch to help bind the custard


If using a sugar pumpkin:

Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly oil it. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Split pumpkin in half with a heavy chef’s knife or cleaver. Scoop out the seeds and save to be roasted if you like. Rub pumpkin on all surfaces with oil and season with salt. Place cut-side-down on the baking sheet and place in the oven. Roast until completely tender, flipping halfway through cooking for a total cook time of 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel skin from flesh. Place 1 ½ cups of pumpkin in the food processor and puree.

If using carton of pureed pumpkin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees
  2. Add all ingredients to a food processor or high powered blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Taste to adjust for preference of sweetness and spice level. You can add a little more maple syrup or spices.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between 8 lightly-oiled ramekins*. Place ramekins on a baking dish in the middle rack of the oven.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until there is only a slight jiggle in the center of the custard.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow the custard to cool completely on a wire rack. place in the refrigerator uncovered for 4-24 hours and then cover.  Will hold for 3-4 days.

*If you do not have ramekins, you can cook the custard in a lightly oiled pie pan. It will bake for about 60-70 minutes.

Wild Rice Stuffing

Wild Rice Stuffing and

Serving: 8-10 side servings


Wild Rice

  • 1 1/2 cups wild rice or wild rice blend
  • 2 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon Salt and pepper


  • Protein choice: 1 cup ground turkey or beans (chickpeas or white beans) or crumbled tempeh or tofu
  • 2 tbsp oil or butter
  • ¼ tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • ½ tsp dried rosemary or 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup jarred chestnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of nuts or seeds, chopped
  • Sprinkle of parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Add wild rice, broth, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to a saucepan, bring to a boil. Place a lid on top of the pot and turn heat to low and simmer for 40-45 minutes. Turn off heat and let rice sit with lid on for 5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and fluff with a fork.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add 1 tbsp of oil/butter and add choice of protein, sprinkle with salt/pepper (cooking time will be different for each protein, just ensure it is fully cooked if you are using turkey), remove from pan once it is browned and hold on side.
  3. Add remaining 1 tbsp oil/butter and mushrooms, onion, and celery. Once mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, add thyme, rosemary, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until vegetables are browned and tender, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, chestnuts and fresh sage, sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove skillet from heat and add cooked rice, chopped nuts or seeds, cranberries and top with parmesan cheese. Stir well, may add a splash of broth to loosen stuffing, adjust seasoning and enjoy.
  5. If you prefer a crunchier top you can place it in a baking dish and brown it in a 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.
Nutrient highlights

Wild rice: A high-protein grain. Packed full of fiber to help promote healthy gut microbes to support a strong immune system and reduce inflammation. They promote satiety and have been linked to increased longevity. The polyphenols have high antioxidant activity.

Pumpkin: High in fiber (7 grams per cup), vitamin A, C, and potassium. The high vitamin A content promotes eye health and boosts the immune system.

Chestnuts: Are a unique nut being rich in vitamin C to help boost your immune system and build up collagen in the body. They are rich in antioxidants, two forms that actually increase in concentration when cooked. Also high in fiber to support digestion and help balance blood sugars.

Onions and garlic: Considered prebiotics, meaning they feed the “good” bacteria in our gut and promote a healthy digestive system. Research supports that the compounds such as allicin in onions and garlic has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cardioprotective properties

Eggs: It is important to buy pasture-raised or cage-free eggs.  They have a different nutrient profile than do eggs from caged hens. Pasture-raised/cage-free eggs are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids to lower inflammation, maintain brain functioning and vision along with being a natural source of vitamin D for strong bones and immune support.

Tofu/Soybeans: One of the few plant-based protein options that is considered a complete protein (contains enough of all essential amino acids). Tofu has anti-inflammatory compounds and beneficial isoflavones that have been linked to protecting our heart, improving insulin sensitivity, and reducing the risk of breast, digestive system and prostate cancers.

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans: In areas around the world that have been identified as “Blue Zones–places where humans live the longest–chickpeas (along with other legumes) are commonly found in the diet.  These versatile and affordable beans contain folate, fiber, iron, phosphorus, and healthy fats. Their high amounts of soluble fiber and plant sterol support a healthy gut microbiome.  Chickpeas increase feelings of satiety and have been associated with a decreased risk of heart disease. They’re also a fantastic plant-based protein for those who adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Mushrooms: Make sure to cook your mushrooms to increase digestibility, as well as degrade a possible toxic compound found in raw mushrooms. Mushrooms are a very good source of dietary fiber (beta glucan), and one of the only foods that can store vitamin D when exposed to the sun.  They contain anti-inflammatory, cancer fighting, immune boosting properties and are rich in minerals such as selenium (an antioxidant).

Cinnamon:  It has been shown to enhance motor function and normalize neurotransmitter levels. It can help improve insulin sensitivity and maintain stable blood sugar by interfering with numerous digestive enzymes that slow the breakdown of carbohydrates in the GI tract.

Nutmeg:  Increases levels of mood-boosting serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. It has also been shown to help relieve pain and relax blood vessels to lower blood pressure.

Ginger: Ginger’s bioactive compound 6-gingerol has been shown to have the ability to modulate cellular pathways to act in cancer prevention as well as a potential therapeutic application for treatment. It also improves lipid metabolism, which decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Highly effective against motion sickness, nausea and even morning sickness in pregnant women; also helpful for digestive health and chronic indigestion.  Can ease joint pain and stiffness due to anti-inflammatory propertiesCan lower risk of infections and boost the immune system.

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