Pumpkin Banana Tart

Pumpkin Banana Tart (Grain-Free) via DeliciouslyOrganic.net

Two weeks ago, Shauna contacted me and asked if I would join in a “gluten free party” of sorts and share a gluten free recipe we can all enjoy on Thanksgiving. If you aren’t familiar with Shauna, she’s the writer of the blog Gluten Free Girl and just released a fabulous book titled, “Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.” I wrote about it in this post.

My interest in gluten free cooking may seem a bit sudden, but it’s not really sudden at all. It’s something I’ve kept private, looking for answers, learning, and waiting for the right time to share. I think it’s time to tell you the whole story . . .

Two years ago I went to the dentist because of a cracked filling in one of my teeth. The dentist removed the amalgam filling (without taking proper precautions) and after the removal I felt terrible, spending nearly a week in bed recuperating. I thought it was strange that I took the removal so hard, but after a week I gained my strength and went on my way. A few weeks later, I began to have problems with my complexion. I hadn’t changed anything in my daily regimen and was confused. Months later, I began breaking out in unexplainable hives. The hives were from the neck up and were absolutely horrible. My face was constantly swollen, red, would peel twice a day, and felt like someone was holding a frying pan to my skin. I began eliminating things from my diet searching for a cause, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I went to several doctors and they all told me I had dry skin, gave me a tube of steroid cream and sent me on my way. I’m not an idiot. I knew my skin wasn’t “dry” and I knew I had to dig deeper.

The hives continued to worsen by the day. One morning, I woke up and splashed some water on my face. Immediately my face turned bright red and starting swelling and burning. “Oh no!” I thought. It was the water! The chlorine in the water was making me sick. I told my husband and we took a little while to figure out what to do. In the meantime I couldn’t touch tap water (let alone drink it). We bought large bottles of filtered water at Walmart and I sponge bathed for over a month. I couldn’t even wash my hands in the tap water or I would start to swell and burn. We tried several unsuccessful solutions, but eventually bought a reverse osmosis water filtration system for the entire house.  It wasn’t cheap, but it worked. For the first time in over a month, I could finally bathe again. My symptoms began to clear a little, but after a few weeks they came back. Worse. Much worse.

Pumpkin Banana Tart (Grain-Free)

I cried. I became very depressed. I didn’t want to go anywhere because not only did I look horrible, but I was in constant pain. I slept with ice packs on my face each night to ease the burning. I had to drop all my outside commitments and didn’t really get out to see my friends. If I ate vegetables I would swell. If I ate meat I would swell. If I walked into a room with too much perfume I would swell. So I stayed at home. All day. Every day.

After 6 months I still didn’t know what was causing the hives. No matter what I ate, drank, or did, I constantly had hives. I finally found a doctor who listened and he sent me to an allergist. She did all the skin testing, but I was negative for everything. Perplexed, she told me about an autoimmune disease that in some extreme cases causes hives, so she did a blood test for the antibodies. The test showed my immune system was attacking my thyroid gland. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. The doctor told me to start a thyroid medication, but after some research I learned the medication would only calm the symptoms and not stop the antibodies. I decided to look for an alternative solution.

One of my best friends, Karin, who patiently listened to me crying each day on the phone, told me about her sister who is a certified nutritionist. I called Kim and told her everything that was going on. She agreed to treat me. Remember the cavity I had removed and re-filled? After many tests, we discovered my thyroid had absorbed most of the mercury and consequently caused my liver to “back up” so it couldn’t properly filter any toxins my body came into contact with. This helped explain the hives and the thyroid disease. The first thing Kim told me to do was drop all sugar, alcohol, meat, grains, fruit, dairy and gluten. I was only allowed vegetables and fat. It sounds drastic, but I had suffered for long enough and was willing to try anything. She also prescribed me many whole food supplements and several cleanses to begin the healing process.

Graham Crackers

So here I was, writing a cookbook and a cooking blog but I couldn’t really cook. I felt like all my creative outlets were taken away. I didn’t know there was a world of “gluten free” cooking and baking. So I ate vegetables. Pete and the kids were gracious enough to eat the same diet as me. Pete said, “If you have to do this, then we will do it together.”

I couldn’t go out to eat or eat at a friend’s house. We traveled that summer and I had to pack all my food in a cooler. We were gone for 3 weeks. It wasn’t easy. I sponge bathed with filtered water. I think I may have offended friends along the way when I couldn’t eat the food they provided. I tried to explain as I pulled dinner out of my cooler, not sure if they really understood.

Avoiding gluten and grains was a very new thing for me. I mourned the fact that I couldn’t bake or eat any of the things I’d grown up eating. It sounds silly now, but one night I actually cried because I thought I’d never be able to eat a cinnamon roll again or dredge chicken in flour and saute it.

Another symptom of Hashimoto’s is that your thyroid levels (the ones that control your metabolism) can swing from high to low. So even though I was consistently working out during this time I had months when my metabolism slowed and I would gain weight and there were months when it would swing the other way and I’d lose weight. It was very frustrating to say the least.

Years ago, when I suffered from the debilitating migraines that led me down the path of organics, my husband would remind me of the verse that says, “Give thanks in all things” (1 Thess 5:18). Sometimes his reminders would upset me. “Really? Give thanks for being in bed all day?” But you know what? If I hadn’t experienced those migraines I would never be doing what I’m doing now. I’m blessed to share organic recipes with you. So as I struggled with the hives, I tried to remain thankful. I didn’t enjoy the pain or isolation, but I knew eventually I would be able to help someone because of my circumstances.

Last November was my last hive attack. By Thanksgiving, my skin was clear for the first time in a year and I was extremely grateful. I passed on the rolls and breads last Thanksgiving because I still didn’t know how to work with gluten free flours. I now eat a completely gluten free/grain-free diet and have enjoyed finding ways to work with so many new flours.

My blood levels are improving and I’m getting stronger and healthier each day. I love to bake, so when I make desserts for the blog, I knock on my neighbor’s doors and deliver all sorts of goodies. This way I can bake and experiment, but not be faced with the temptation.

Despite the challenges, I can honestly say I’m extremely thankful for the hardships I’ve encountered. I now understand what it’s like to have to avoid certain foods. I have much more empathy for people who suffer from ailments and can’t find the answers. I now have all of these new-to-me flours and ingredients to work with. I also know many of you have Hashimoto’s and have felt a sense of despair. I’m here to encourage you and tell you there are solutions. The foods we eat play a huge role in how our bodies work and heal and there are many foods out there that can help you start the healing process.

If you have a friend who suffers from a thyroid disease, please tell them about my story. I hope it can be an encouragement.

I posted a pumpkin pie recipe last year before Thanksgiving, so this year I thought I’d give a little variation with a pumpkin-banana tart. It’s gluten free, of course, (with a wheat alternative for those of you who can use it) and offers a simple, light way to finish the Thanksgiving meal.

Make sure to check out Shuana’s website today as there will be links to dozens of other bloggers who have developed gluten free Thanksgiving recipes.

Pumpkin Banana Tart

Pumpkin Banana Tart

If you can tolerate grains and prefer a gluten-free crust here is Shauna's recipe for gluten free graham crackers. Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style.


  • 1 batch grain-free graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Filling:
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

  • 1 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 3 large egg yolks

  • 1 ripe banana, finely mashed
  • 1/2 cup cold heavy cream

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


For the Crust:

Place graham crackers in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely ground. Pour in butter and pulse until crumbs are moist. Pour graham cracker mixture into a buttered, 10-inch tart pan. Press crumbs along bottom and up sides of pan. Bake 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

For the Filling:

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Set aside. Heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, whole cane sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, stir a large spoonful of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat. Stir in the dissolved gelatin and banana. Cool to room temperature.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. While the mixer is on, slowly pour in the maple syrup and whip until stiff peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the now-cool pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 3 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. While the mixer is on, slowly pour in the maple syrup and vanilla and whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart. Serve cold.

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  1. That couldnt have been easy to share, but thank you for having the courage. And praise God for relief from the pain!

    Be blessed-

  2. Oh my gosh, Carrie… I had no idea what all you had been through. What a struggle…and a mystery at first. It frustrates me so much that many of the doctors you saw just blew it off as “dry skin”. I’m so glad you took matters into your own hands and did some research on your own. Can you imagine the people who don’t?

    Blessings to you!

  3. Thanks for sharing your story Carrie! It couldn’t have been an easy thing to do! But I’m so glad your better and we love you so much!!! See you saturday! xo

  4. Carrie, you have shared dribs and drabs of your journey with me, but this post puts is all together for me. I am sorry you have had to deal with this. And mercury in your thyroid. Can there be anything worse? I have suffered my whole life with excema and I feel it is time to take food into my own hands…thanks to you! Thanks for sharing your story, your journey and your heart. I am thankful that I have you in my life! xx

  5. Thank you for sharing, I was diagnosed with Celiac’s just before Thanksgiving last year, so I know how hard it is to avoid gluten. After a year I can honestly say that it does get easier and feeling better is very much worth it. Although there were many nights I cried over not getting anymore powder sugar donuts :)

  6. Thank you for sharing your story! As hard as it may be to tell it, it was clearly much harder to live through! I am in awe of your ability to stay positive and thankful in the midst of such physical pain. You’re an inspiration, and will help so many!

  7. Brooke@foodwoolf

    Carrie, thank you so much for sharing your personal story. I am amazed at how long it takes for us to figure out what’s wrong with us sometimes. It’s such a hard thing diagnosing the broken parts…Thank you for your honesty, your grace, and your inspiring story. You are wonderful. xoxo, Brooke

  8. Carrie,
    I am amazed that you could keep cooking, baking and blogging when you couldn’t eat your own goodies! We’re exploring a possible gluten sensitivity in our household currently, and it’s not only challenging in the kitchen, but in the doctor’s office as well. I am constantly shocked by the lack of information and wealth of misinformation out there. I’m so sorry you had to deal with the same!

    So important to share your story, especially your motivation to keep going seeking the good in God’s will.
    :) Katie

    • Yes, it’s concerning that the many doctors I saw couldn’t see anything beyond handing me a prescription. The doctors didn’t understand (and still don’t) why I chose the path I did, but you know what? Whole foods, supplements, and cleanses work! I hope you find the solution to your “possible gluten sensitivity” soon. I know how troubling how it can be.

  9. Gillian

    I was extemely saddened to hear about your struggle, Carrie, and I am so sorry that you’ve been through such a hardship. I’m shocked that you’ve been going through this for a whole year and I, a devoted reader, was completely oblivious. I’m horrified that the cause was an improper tooth cleaning. I know how difficult it is to be faced with a lifelong medical condition. It takes time and courage to deal with, emotionally and physically, but I hope you take comfort in the fact that you’re over the worst, and that you have gained a stronger appreciation for life. You are indeed an inspiration!

    • Thank you! The blog was a great outlet for me while I went through all of this. It was wonderful to have a place to talk about all of the other things in my life aside from my illness. A blessing! It took me a long time to finally tell everyone. Last month I came home and told my husband it was finally time! I really hope that my story can help others, and yes, I’m so thankful I’m over the worst!

  10. What an amazing story! I’m so glad it had a happy ending! I’m so glad that you were able to find the right food and the right solution to healing yourself! Having several doctor friends, I know that they often tell me “yeah, we are often guessing ourselves” which TOTALLY does not give me any confidence in my doctor’s diagnosis! I’m glad that you took the initiative to discover what was the problem yourself!

    And I found that baking gluten free for my friends (I’m not gluten sensitive) has totally shifted the way I bake. I love that. It just means even more ways to bake wonderful things. Like your banana pumpkin tart. It looks amazing!

  11. Thank you so much for sharing this amazing journey with us here. I am so glad that there was someone to help you through this and bring you onto the road of health. We had a scary journey on our path to getting my son healthy. We were first told he had cancer because of his blood work, then possibly a brain tumor (because they discovered he was having seizures in his sleep), then they could not figure anything out. So frustrating, but such a relief when we found out it was Celiac Disease. After all the things we thought it might be, we were grateful for that diagnosis.
    Oh, and that Tart looks AMAZING! I love the combination of flavors there!

  12. Vicki

    Thank you for sharing your journey with all of your readers. You are an inspiration to many and I have no doubt this will be used to encourage others who are struggling.
    To God be the glory!

  13. Carrie – thank you for sharing. It takes courage to share our personal stories, but as each of us bares our souls, it helps other people see that we’re not alone, that there is help and there are healthy solutions. Your story is a reminder, yet again, of the importance of eating clean, organic food. Even armed with the knowledge about the dangers of non-organic food, sometimes, in a pinch, I’ll buy something that isn’t organic. But more and more, I am convinced, especially after reading your story, that organic is the way to go.

    Your pie is BEAUTIFUL and looks delicious! Thank you for sharing!

    best, Ellen

  14. Jessica

    THANK YOU for posting your story. It is a lovely balm to my soul :) Though I do not have a thyroid condition, I do have a compulsive eating disorder and a new exclusively breastfed baby with a gluten allergy. I too have cried over the unknown of what I will be able to enjoy-or not enjoy-down the road. Thanks for the great recipes and the good word!

  15. anastasia

    Thanks for sharing your story. It took me three years to be diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I had severe inflammation and chronic fatigue along with a bevy of random and debilitating symptoms. It took me gaining 20 pounds in 3 weeks for my doctor to test my thyroid. When I started to see a nutritionist, the doctor reacted like I was seeing a voo doo practioner — this despite offering little more than a prescription and a psychiatric referral while I had practically zero quality of life. I did IgG testing, and am now gluten-, dairy-, nut-, soy-, and sugar-free. Sounds drastic, and it is, but it works for me. Like a crazy person, I continue to buy baking books. I think it’s inspiration that somehow, some way, I’m going to make those recipes work for me. I’m glad I’m not the only one, and you’re sharing how it can be done.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your diagnosis. It’s amazing how the thyroid can wreck such havoc on our bodies isn’t it? I also gained 10 pounds in a week at one point and thought I was going to go crazy! I’m so glad you found a nutritionist to work with and I hope as your blood levels begin to improve that you can add some foods back to your diet. I’m glad you’ve found a way to bake even with your restrictions. I understand the need to make the recipes work. Thank you for sharing your story.

  16. Karin

    Carrie, (I’m sure you are shocked that I’m posting) this looks so delicious!! The kids saw it yesterday morning and said it looked so good…guess I’ll have to make it, huh?! Hugs to you and the girls!

  17. Erika

    Thank you for sharing your story. I continue to be appalled by the medical community, but I won’t get into that rant!
    I am so thankful you are now healthy and able to enjoy life to its fullest. I hope your story is helpful to others in your situation. It really is true that God can take any bad thing and work it for good…..we usually just don’t realize it until the bad part’s over! :)

  18. Totally got reminded of the day you came for the end of your book shoot and you and I were washing dishes and your hands got itchy and a bit swollen. I remember feeling 1/utter shit because I had made you sick and 2/helpless because I cared about your well being and yet you were just smiling it off, only thinking about reassuring us you were fine.

    You’re awesome. Plain and simple.
    Wish we could do Thanksgiving together!!

  19. Wow. What an ordeal… I’m glad you are improving all the time and had such a great support system in place as you determined the cause. This tart is beautiful.

  20. Here I am struggling with what to do with the last of my pumpkin and have some bananas that are reaching out to me, thanks so much for your recipe, two birds with one stone. And something different, thanks!

  21. Oh my word, Carrie. What a testimony! I love your determination to find the root of the problem. Dori S. sent me here and another friend in WI linked me here after she read your Fox News article (she knew I was at Edwards, too), I’m certainly encouraged and curious about organic eating, thank you for sharing. Hope our paths cross :)

  22. bob

    Hi Carrie,

    Thank you for posting this, I found you through The gluten-free girl’s blog.

    Just wondering, what is half-and-half? I haven’t heard of that in Australia.

    Sorry to hear about your trying experience, I can sympathise with not finding the answers, although the symptoms on my path have not been that extreme, thanks to God’s graciousness.

    God bless,
    bob <

  23. Hi there,
    I was diagnosed with Hashimotos over ten years ago.
    I am still suffering and taking meds. to balance my TSH levels but moving countries 3 times and changing doctors five times has not helped. With all the second and third and fifth opinions, it just got worse. But I find it ebbs and flows. For years, the symptoms were managed and then they resurfaced. So back to the drawing board I go. Thanks for sharing your story.

  24. Jessica

    My mom is going through something similar and i’ve heard about how a gluten free diet can really make some improvements. This is really inspiring and quite frankly, really interesting. My mom has been going to the dentist a lot the past few years so I wonder if this same thing has happened to her. Thanks for sharing this!


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