Healthy Recipes: Pies

Piecrusts get their flavor and tenderness from fat—no two ways about it. And traditionally the fat used is butter, solid vegetable shortening, or (gasp) lard. So, how do you make a piecrust worth eating without those highly saturated fats? The answer is unsaturated oils, used in two different types of crust:

Cookie crusts: These crusts are made with crushed cookie crumbs, and where a typical crust recipe would have called for melted butter, we’ve used oil (olive, nut, or seed) instead.

Pastry crusts: For the more traditional pie doughs, we’ve eliminated the butter (et.al.), and replaced it with a combination of oil and low-fat yogurt. But even with this shift away from saturated fat, the total amount of fat still needs to be high enough to make a crust worth eating. So, our solution here is to use only a top crust instead of the more usual top and bottom crusts.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

Nectarine Cheese Pie in a Ginger Crust

Makes 8 wedges

Unlike most cheese pies or cheesecakes, this is made with no eggs and is not baked. Instead, homemade yogurt cheese is combined with sour cream, sugar, chopped nectarines, and gelatin and chilled until set. Timing alert: You will need to start the yogurt cheese a day ahead, and the filling needs about 6 hours to set.

3 cups plain fat-free yogurt
16 gingersnaps (4 ounces)
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated tangerine or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup frozen tangerine or orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 3/4/cups diced nectarines (about 4)
1 cup canned juice-packed mandarin oranges, well drained

  1. Set a coffee filter or a large strainer lined with cheesecloth over a bowl. Spoon in the yogurt and allow to drain, loosely covered, in the refrigerator, until the yogurt has reduced to 1 3/4 cups and is the consistency of soft cream cheese, about 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process the gingersnaps to fine crumbs. Add the oil and process briefly to combine. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Bake until the crumbs are set, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat together the yogurt cheese and sour cream until smooth. Beat in the sugar, tangerine zest, and vanilla, and set aside.
  4. In a small saucepan, sprinkle the gelatin over the tangerine juice concentrate. Warm the mixture over low heat, stirring just until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the heat and beat the gelatin mixture into the yogurt cheese mixture.
  5. Stir 1 1/2 cups of the nectarines into the yogurt cheese mixture. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Refrigerate until the filling is set, 6 hours or overnight.
  6. Just before serving, top the pie with the remaining nectarines and the mandarin oranges.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 222 calories, 6.3g total fat (1.8g saturated), 7mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 35g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 172mg sodium.

A good source of: calcium, riboflavin, vitamin B12, vitamin C.

Key Lime Pie

Makes 8 wedges

Key lime pie was created in the Florida Keys in the days when native limes were plentiful, and fresh milk was hard to come by. Canned milk (sweetened condensed, in this case) makes a rich, smooth pie filling. Now that condensed milk comes in a fat-free form, it’s a real “miracle ingredient” for low saturated-fat desserts.

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
3 tablespoons water

Filling:
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1 can (14 ounces) fat-free sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (or Key lime juice)

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Make the crust: In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, wheat germ, and sugar. In a small bowl, stir together the oil and water, and mix until combined. Pour the oil mixture over the graham cracker crumb mixture and with a fork, stir to coat. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate.
  3. Bake the crust for 12 minutes, or until set. Leave the oven on. Cool the crust on a wire rack.
  4. Make the filling: In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the whole egg, egg whites, and lime zest until fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk until combined. Beat in the lime juice until thick.
  5. Pour the lime mixture into the crust. Bake for 15 minutes, or until set. Cool on a wire rack. Refrigerate and serve chilled.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 333 calories, 6.2g total fat (1g saturated), 31mg cholesterol, 1g dietary fiber, 60g carbohydrate, 10g protein, 184mg sodium. good source of: riboflavin.

One-Crust Apple Pie

Makes 8 wedges

The trouble with American-style fruit pies is that there’s always too much crust. Too much, that is, for a health-conscious diner. Many health-oriented recipes try to solve the problem by taking the fat out of the crust, rendering it inedible. Our solution, on the other hand, is to make a single crust with lots of flavor and reasonable levels of fat (in this case all unsaturated fat from walnut oil). Timing alert: The dough needs to rest for 1 hour before you can roll it out.

Crust:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/4 cup walnut oil or extra-light olive oil
2 tablespoons ice water

Filling:
2 1/2 pounds apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, walnut oil, and water. Stir the yogurt mixture into the flour mixture just until it forms a dough. Shape into a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  3. Make the filling: In a large bowl, toss together the apples, brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and salt. Transfer to a 9-inch glass pie plate.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 13-inch round and drape over the apples. Fold the edge of the dough up to form a neat edge. With your fingers or a fork, crimp the edges of the crust. Make 4 slashes in the top of the dough for steam vents.
  5. Place the pie plate on a jelly-roll pan (a baking sheet with sides) and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender. If the crust is overbrowning, tent with foil.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 275 calories, 7.5g total fat (0.7g saturated), 0mg cholesterol, 3g dietary fiber, 51g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 261mg sodium. good source of: fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin.

Spiced Blueberry Pie

Makes 8 wedges

The blueberry filling for this pie is made with a base mixture of blueberries cooked with spices (including black pepper) into which fresh, uncooked blueberries are stirred. The filling is poured into a prebaked gingersnap crust, made with milk and olive oil instead of butter.

36 gingersnaps (9 ounces)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk
2 tablespoons extra-light olive oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon pepper
6 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor, process the gingersnaps and 2 tablespoons of the sugar until fine crumbs are formed. Add the milk and oil and process until evenly moistened.
  2. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press the gingersnap mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes to set. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the cornstarch, orange zest, cinnamon, and pepper.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine 3 cups of the blueberries and the orange juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the sugar-cornstarch mixture, return to a boil, and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 3 cups blueberries. Spoon the blueberry mixture into the pie shell and refrigerate until serving time.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 305 calories, 9.3g total fat (1.6g saturated), 1mg cholesterol, 4g dietary fiber, 55g carbohydrate, 3g protein, 125mg sodium.

A good source of: anthocyanins.

Raspberry-Topped Lemon Tart

Makes 8 wedges

If you like, substitute 2 1/2 cups of your favorite pudding for the lemon filling. Timing alert: The pie needs to chill for about 2 hours to set.

32 reduced-fat vanilla wafers (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 teaspoons extra-light olive oil
1/4 cup low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup fat-free sour cream 2 tablespoons red currant jelly or seedless raspberry jam
1 pint raspberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a food processor, combine the vanilla wafers and brown sugar, and process until finely ground. Add the oil and milk, and pulse until evenly moistened.
  2. Spray a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with nonstick cooking spray. Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 12 minutes to set the crust. Let cool on a wire rack.
  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let stand until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. In a medium, heavy-bottomed nonaluminum saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, granulated sugar, and egg until well combined. Cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is hot, about 3 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the softened gelatin and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is the consistency of thick honey and the gelatin has dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to a medium bowl, and let cool to room temperature.
  6. Stir the sour cream into the lemon mixture. Spoon the filling into the tart shell, smoothing the top. Refrigerate until the filling is set, about 2 hours.
  7. Just before serving, in a small saucepan, melt the jelly over low heat. Arrange the raspberries on the top of the tart and brush with the melted jelly.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 276 calories, 5.6g total fat (1.4g saturated), 40mg cholesterol, 3g dietary fiber, 55g carbohydrate, 4g protein, 98mg sodium. good source of: riboflavin, vitamin C.

Sweet Potato Pie in a Peanut Crust

Makes 10 wedges

Sweet potatoes make a delicious basis for a custard-style pie with a luscious texture. Two secret ingredients add a deep, rich flavor to the pie: Chick-peas in the pie filling and peanuts in the crust. They are botanically related (both are legumes) and have a similar nutty flavor.

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 cup cooked sweet potato flesh (from about 8 ounces of sweet potato weighed with skin)
1 cup cooked chickpeas or canned (rinsed and drained)
1 1/4 cups low-fat (2%) evaporated milk
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a food processor, combine the graham cracker crumbs, peanuts, and 1 tablespoon of the brown sugar, and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add the sesame oil and pulse until the mixture comes together. Don’t clean the processor bowl.
  3. Spray a 9-inch pie plate with nonstick cooking spray. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate. Bake for 12 minutes to set the crust. Set aside while you make the filling. Leave the oven on.
  4. Meanwhile, place the remaining 1/4 cup brown sugar, the sweet potato, chick-peas, evaporated milk, whole egg, egg whites, rum, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and nutmeg in the food processor and process to a smooth puree.
  5. Place the pie crust on a baking sheet and pour the filling mixture into the crust. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the filling is set. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

From The Wellness Kitchen, by the editors of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter and the staff of the Wellness Kitchen

per wedge: 247 calories, 7g total fat (1.4g saturated), 24mg cholesterol, 3g dietary fiber, 39g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 173mg sodium. good source of: beta carotene, calcium, folate, potassium, riboflavin.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at HealthCommunities.com

Published: 12 Aug 2010

Last Modified: 12 Jan 2015