2018-10-27 09:43:22 -0600

Vegan Ginger Pie and Oatstraw Tea (For Harold and Maude Fans!)

Few movies have come close to the masterpiece that is Harold and Maude, the 1971 Hal Ashby classic in which a suicidal teenager (Bud Cort) falls in love with a 79-year old woman (Ruth Gordon) all set to a stunning Cat Stevens soundtrack. 

There's a pureness to the film most notably due to Maude's playful love for life, even despite her age. Her sweetness is able to break through Harold's tough shell. Upon one of their early encounters, Maude invites Harold to her place for ginger pie and oatstraw tea.

A Google search offers little in the way of ginger pie recipes (and most of them mention Harold and Maude); and as a vegan, there are virtually zero offerings…until now.

First, though, the tea. Oatstraw is a widely available and very effective herb. It's beneficial in relieving stress and anxiety (it worked wonders for me once after a miserable break-up). It's also been scientifically shown to boost bone strength (which may be why post-menopausal Maude was drinking it in the first place; women her age are most prone to osteoporosis). Pre-menopausal women can try drinking oatstraw tea to relieve cramps. Flavor wise it's not earth shattering, so feel free to mix it in with other herbs or teas as you like. You can find oatstraw in bulk at your local herb store, and some natural food stores may also sell it.

Now, for the pie.

Like I said, it appears the origins of ginger pie may be rooted in the movie itself…and recipes are few and far between, although several variations hint to it as a Dutch recipe. I've adapted a Food.com recipe using vegan substitutions.



  • ½ cup whole wheat flour 
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, softened but not melted
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons cold water, to mix


  • 1 ½ cup cashew cream cheese *
  • 3–4 tablespoons vegan nondairy milk or creamer
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax or chia seeds dissolved in equal amount of water
  • 1 teaspoon organic cornstarch, tapioca flour, or baking powder
  • ¾ cup coconut, sucanat, or turbinado sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
  • pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup chopped crystallized ginger chunks


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


In a large bowl, mix together flour and salt. Blend in the coconut oil with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture becomes crumbly. Slowly add in the water until it binds the dough. Roll into a ball and cover in plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the nondairy milk, sugar, and flax or chia seeds until uniform (about 1-2 minutes). Add in cornstarch (or tapioca flour or baking powder), cashew cream cheese, ginger, vanilla extract, and salt and mix until creamy.

Remove pastry dough from the refrigerator and roll out with rolling pin until it's large enough to fit into a well-oiled pie-plate, trimming away the edges (use these for a lattice if you like). Pour the filling mixture into the crust and decorate with chopped ginger pieces (around the edges is nice and a few in the center).

Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool before serving, and queue up the film for viewing!

*Vegan cashew cream cheese can easily be made by soaking cashews overnight in water. Blend together 1½ cups cashews with ½ cup water, juice of one big, ripe lemon, a pinch of salt and a dash of sweetener (I like maple syrup) until creamy. Best if chilled for at least 2 hours. For a savory version, add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast, your favorite herbs and spices, and omit the sweeter.

Learn more about Jill Ettinger


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