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Easy as Pie: Guilt-Free Pie Recipes

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Blueberry Mint Pie

Chef Tyson Podolski of Summer Winter Restaurant in Burlington, Massachusetts, has created a pie that will transport you to a midsummer's day. But the best thing about this recipe is neither the seasonal association nor the fact that it is low in fat and calories. It is simply just as delicious with frozen berries found in any supermarket as with fresh. Plus, its gorgeous midnight blue filling provides a striking contrast to the creamy — yet healthy — yogurt dolloped on top. A diet-friendly showstopper.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Low-Fat Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled oil (canola or olive oil)
1 extra-large egg white; lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, either white wine or apple cider
Ice water as needed

Blueberry Filling
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Healthy Whipped Cream
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
1/3 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon orange liqueur or any flavored liqueur that you prefer

Directions

To make piecrust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Carve a small well in the middle of the flour and add chilled oil to it. Mix with fork until dough is crumbly. Mix in beaten egg white and white wine vinegar. Using your hands, form dough into ball, adding ice water to the dough if it is still a bit crumbly. Dough should hold together well. Refrigerate until very cold (1/2 hour). Roll dough on a floured surface until 1 inch thick. Drape over 9-inch pie pan, being careful not to tear the dough. Trim off the excess pieces and discard. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

To make filling: In medium saucepan, combine 2 cups blueberries with both light brown and granulated sugar, flour, margarine, lemon juice, spices, and salt. Cook and stir over low heat until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and let cool. Stir in remaining 2 cups of blueberries and the chopped fresh mint. Pour into prepared piecrust and let entire pie cool.

To make whipped cream: If there is liquid in the yogurt container when opened, drain off liquid. In a very cold small bowl, whip the whipping cream with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Fold in drained yogurt and orange liqueur. Dollop over pie when ready to serve.

Nutrition info: 281 calories, 4g protein, 43g carbohydrate, 11g fat (2g saturated fat), 2g fiber, 132mg sodium

Sweet Potato Pie

Trust us, now you can polish off a plate of comfort food — like this sweet potato pie — and still feel svelte. The version here proudly touts the merits of its main ingredient: tubers so perfectly sweet that the need to camouflage them with butter, sugar, and whole milk is a nonissue.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Low-Fat Crust
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled oil (canola or olive oil)
1 extra-large egg white; lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar, either white wine or apple cider
Ice water as needed

Sweet Potato Filling
16 ounces sweet potatoes, baked till soft, with skins removed
4 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
12-ounce can evaporated skim milk

Directions

To make crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour and salt in a medium bowl. Carve a small well in the middle of the flour and add chilled oil to it. Mix with fork until dough is crumbly. Mix in beaten egg white and white wine vinegar. Using your hands, form dough into ball, adding ice water to the dough if it is still a bit crumbly. Dough should hold together well. Refrigerate until very cold (1/2 hour). Roll dough on a floured surface until 1 inch thick. Drape over 9-inch pie pan, being careful not to tear the dough. Trim off the excess pieces and discard. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown.

To make filling: In a medium-size mixing bowl, mix all ingredients. Pour into the prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees F. for approximately 30 to 45 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Nutrition info: 221 calories, 6g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 2g fiber, 125mg sodium

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Instead of having to choose between baking either pecan or pumpkin pie, this fantastic recipe from Deborah Racicot of Gotham Bar and Grill in New York rolls them both into one, and in a unique twist, transforms the pumpkin layer into a light cheesecake filling. If that's not enough to tempt you, consider that there is no refined sugar in the whole shebang, and the cream cheese is low-fat. Note: This treat is best served at room temperature or cold. Factor in lots of cooling-down time before serving.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Crust
2 cups low-fat graham crackers
1/2 cup melted butter

Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon Splenda
4 egg whites
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Pecan Filling
1 large egg
1/2 cup agave syrup (such as Wholesome Sweeteners, available at health food stores)
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons Splenda
2 tablespoons almond flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bourbon
3/4 cup chopped toasted pecans

Directions

To make crust: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Put the cookies into a plastic bag and with a rolling pin crush them until fine. Place them into a medium bowl. Melt butter and pour it over the cookie crumbs. Mix it well with a spoon until all the crumbs are coated completely with butter. Press the crumbs over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let crust cool completely.

To make pumpkin filling: Place low-fat cream cheese in a mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. Add the Splenda and maple syrup. Cream the mixture well, until very smooth. Add the pumpkin puree with the spices and salt. Mix until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl well. With the mixer on low speed add the eggs. Mix just until incorporated. Pour into the pan and place in the freezer. Allow it to freeze so it is just firm to the touch. That way you can pour the pecan mixture on top and it will remain as two layers.

To make pecan filling: Set oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, using a whisk, place all of the ingredients together. Whisk well. Pour the filling onto the frozen pumpkin filling and place it in the oven. Bake the pie in the oven for 20 minutes. Open the oven door and rotate the pie carefully. Then set the timer for another 20 to 25 minutes. The pie is cooked if the filling does not move when jiggled. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving.

Nutrition info: 279 calories, 5g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 16g fat (6g saturated fat), 2g fiber, 277mg sodium

Peach Ginger Pie

There are three different types of ginger in this recipe — candied, powdered, and freshly grated — yet somehow the flavor of these tangy ingredients doesn't overpower, but only enhances the sweetness of the peaches. Chef Jaime Sudberg of NYC's The Stanton Social usually creates decadent desserts, such as the housemade red velvet Twinkie, that cater to a late-night crowd. As a healthy alternative to hold court with the menu's rich options, her Peach Ginger Pie only tastes like it's loaded with fattening ingredients. The verdict? No guilt!

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Crust
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Crisco all-vegetable shortening stick
3 tablespoons cold water

Peach Filling
4 cups peeled and diced peaches
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons diced candied ginger
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup water

Directions

To make crust: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Mix flour and salt in medium bowl. Add Crisco in cubes until all flour is blended in to form small chunks. Sprinkle with water, using one tablespoon at a time. Toss lightly with fingers or fork until the dough forms a ball. Press between hands to flatten out slightly. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, on a floured surface, and with dough itself lightly floured, roll to 1-inch thickness. Fit dough into 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

To make pie filling: Set oven to 350 degrees F. Mix peaches, salt, and the three ginger ingredients in a bowl. Set aside. Combine cornstarch, sugar, and water in a small pan and cook over medium heat until thick. Fold into peach mixture. Fill prepared piecrust with this mixture and bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown on top.

Nutrition info: 200 calories, 2g protein, 30g carbohydrate, 8.2g fat (2g saturated fat), 1g fiber, 195mg sodium

Light Almond Pie

Put aside that pecan pie! Swap out the overly indulgent standard, often made with butter, butter, and more butter. This sensible yet equally sumptuous alternative features almonds, which are slightly lower in calories and saturated fat than pecans, and an olive oil-only crust just as delicious as any standard dough. When preparing the crust, chilling the oil is key, says Chef Tyson Podolski, and he recommends freezing the olive oil in an ice cube tray so that incorporating it into the other ingredients is a cinch.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Olive Oil Crust
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup ice water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Almond Filling
6 ounces crushed raw almonds
4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons flour

To make crust: Place olive oil in freezer in ice cube freezer tray until firm. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth ball forms. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough as you would standard piecrust. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes to set crust for filling.

Directions

To make pie filling: In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until just combined. Pour into olive oil crust and bake at 350 degrees F. for one hour, or until pie is firm to the touch. Let cool and serve.

Nutrition info: 479 calories, 8g protein, 47g carbohydrate, 30g fat (4g saturated fat), 3g fiber, 157mg sodium

Chocolate and Mint Pie

Adding herbs to any dish amps up the flavor without the fat. This is a maxim that holds true for baking as well as cooking, says Tyson Podolski. Chef Podolski experiments readily with herbs from his restaurant's very own greenhouse. (Talk about local!) To add panache to dessert recipes, like this lightened-up version of the uber-rich Chocolate Cream Pie, he has his pick of 10 different varieties of mint right outside his door. Can't find the chocolate mint that this creation calls for? Fresh mint works wonderfully and is widely available. Still, shop your local farmers' market to channel some of Chef Podolski's farm-to-table style.

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Oatmeal Shortbread Crust
1 stick margarine
1/2 cup olive oil
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup grated semisweet chocolate

Chocolate Mint Cream Filling
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 cups low-fat milk
1/4 cup chocolate mint or fresh mint
4 egg yolks
2 tablespoons margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Directions

To make crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixer, combine margarine, olive oil, and sugar until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Refrigerate dough until firm, then press crust into pan, starting from the bottom and working up the sides. Bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

To make pie filling: In a bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add one cup of milk and mix until smooth. Add the egg yolks and mix again until combined. Using very low heat, steep the additional one cup of milk with the chocolate mint for 1 to 2 hours and then press through a fine-mesh strainer. In a saucepan, heat the minted milk and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add to the yolk mixture, slowly so as not to scramble the eggs. Strain the mixture through a small sieve and into a pot. Heat gently to bring the mixture back to a boil. Remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix together margarine, vanilla, and chocolate, and then pour heated mixture on top. Let sit for a few minutes to allow for ingredients to melt and then stir until combined. Cool slightly before pouring mixture into prebaked oatmeal piecrust. Chill overnight before serving. Garnish with mint leaves.

Nutrition info: 572 calories, 9g protein, 68g carbohydrate 32g fat (10g saturated fat), 5g fiber, 357mg sodium

Apple and Honey Pie

This is just the pie you crave when apple season comes around, but there's no guilt involved. It has all the classic flavors of a traditional apple pie — crispy slices of apple, sprinkles of cinnamon, and a healthy amount of honey all nestled in a warm crust — but there is no butter nor a need to cover the pie with strips of fattening dough. A simple scoop of low-fat vanilla ice cream is all the topping you need for this wholesome winner. Start slicing!

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Olive Oil Crust 2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup ice water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Apples and Honey Filling 5-6 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar or Splenda
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions

To make crust: Place olive oil in freezer in ice cube freezer tray until firm. Combine all ingredients in a food processor until a smooth ball forms. Refrigerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out dough as you would standard piecrust. Bake for 7 to 10 minutes to set crust for filling.

To make filling: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake at 350 degrees F. for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and apples are tender.

Nutrition info: 255 calories, 3g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 12g fat (2g saturated fat), 1g fiber, 129mg sodium

Citrus Meringue Pie

The secret to this elegant meringue pie from Jessica Goryl of BLT Steak Los Angeles is what's hiding underneath the snowy peaks — a canary yellow curd that, when discovered, is as pleasing to the eye as it is to the palate. If you've never made a curd before, or a meringue for that matter, this is a great beginner's recipe replete with three kinds of citrus. You'll be amazed at how sophisticated you'll feel both creating and serving such an impressive treat. Did we mention the healthier whole wheat crust and the absence of any butter throughout?

Makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Whole Wheat Piecrust
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold fat-free milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon honey

Citrus Curd
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 whole eggs
3 egg whites
Zest of 1/2 each: lemon, orange, lime
Pinch of salt

Meringue
4 egg whites
Pinch of cream of tartar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

To make the crust: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix flour and salt in an electric mixer on low speed. Add the rest of the ingredients and keep mixing until everything comes together; about 2 minutes. Lightly spray a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray, and using your fingers, press the dough into a shell evenly around the pan. Chill in the refrigerator 1/2 hour, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To make the filling: In a heat-safe bowl, whisk the juices, sugar, and whole eggs and egg whites until the sugar has completely dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Place this bowl over a pot of boiling water and whisk constantly until very thick, about 9 minutes. Use caution to not let the mixture bubble up, leading to scrambled eggs. Remove from heat and cool for about 10 minutes. Strain and fold in the zests and salt. Pour over prepared crust.

To make the meringue: Set oven to 400 degrees F. Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon onto citrus filling, making sure to spread to the edges. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until meringue is light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Place the pie in the refrigerator until the moment of serving it.

Nutrition info: 227 calories, 6g protein, 29g carbohydrate, 11g fat(1g saturated fat), 2g fiber, 160mg sodium

Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, November 2009.

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