Pumpkin BBQ Sauce 2 ways (Paleo + AIP + Whole30)

Going AIP meant giving up a LOT of the sauces I am most used to: ketchup, mustard and mayo, to start, but then also tomato and barbecue sauce. Talk about rough, right?
Fortunately, pumpkin is kinda a miracle food. Once roasted and puréed, it has a texture similar to tomato sauce and it's light in flavor on its own, so it can be enhanced however you want. 
Through my Whole30, I played with a few variations of pumpkin BBQ sauce, and they were all tasty in their own right: pumpkiny and sweet and a little reminiscent of pumpkin, but I REALLY wanted something that would mimic tomato based sauce. Finally, after my Whole30, I found the missing ingredient. Molasses. It adds that depth that allows the flavor to caramelize and taste just like what I remember of sweet and tangy barbecue. 
Unfortunately, molasses isn't Whole30, but that's ok, my Whole30 modifications may not imitate tomato based BBQ, but the sauce is still a fun, pumpkiny flavor, which might be interesting and different for those of you who maybe CAN have tomatoes, but want to try new flavors!

Pumpkin BBQ Sauce (Whole30 friendly, AIP, no sugar added)

1 can pumpkin
1 cup apple juice
1/2-2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (ACV)
3 medjool dates (pitted and soaked in water for 1 hour)
2 tbsp coconut aminos
2 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

First, pit and soak your dates. It's simple, cut out the pits by slicing down the side and pulling them out, then place in a bowl or cup and cover with cold water.  Ignore them for an hour (or forget like me and let them sit for 2-3, it's all good).
Add your dates and 1/4 cup of the soaking water to a blender or food processor (both will work, but a food processor may not get them as smooth).  Blend into as smooth a paste as you can.
Add the date paste and all remaining ingredients to a pot, cover loosely (do not seal, you water it to be able to reduce slightly, but pumpkin bubbles and POPS like crazy, so to spare a huge mess and burned skin, definitely cover).
Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat to simmer for up to one hour, stirring (carefully to avoid being splattered) occasionally.  Adjust seasoning (and vinegar) as needed as you go.  This will not get very dark and will look similar to plain pumpkin puree, but it should be tangy and mildly sweet.  If it reduces too much, add water.

I recommend letting it sit overnight in the fridge before using it to allow the flavors to meld further.

Molasses Pumpkin BBQ Sauce (AIP + Paleo)

1 can pumpkin
1 cup apple juice
2/3 cup ACV
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp sea salt

Simply mix all ingredients in a pot, cover loosely.
Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium heat to simmer for up to an hour, carefully stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasoning as needed and add water if it reduces more than you like.

The molasses in this version balances out the vinegar nicely, which is why I use more ACV and adds depth and color.  It reminds me so much of regular BBQ, but slightly less acidic.  My boyfriend actually likes it better than the usual stuff.
Excuse the mostly empty one.  Girl's gotta eat!

Both work wonderfully for anything calling for BBQ sauce, but my particular favorite is baked BBQ chicken thighs.  I use this recipe by Ree Drummond to go with my sauce: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/06/oven-bbq-chicken/

Mmm, crispy, BBQy goodness

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