Healthy Holiday Traditions: Apple Pie

It’s hard to stay healthy through the holidays without feeling deprived when everyone around you is indulging in fat, sugar and salt. What if I told you that you could still indulge in a holiday favorite like apple pie? Would you believe me?

I’ve got a traditional dessert that is so good, even your pickiest guests would love. Here’s my personal recipe for whole foods, plant-based, dairy-free, wheat-free, oil-free, no-sweetener added (only sweetened with fruit), baked apple pie. 

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Pie crust

1 1/2 – 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted

1 1/4 cup raw almonds

1 cup raw walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

Add almonds and walnuts into a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until fully combined. Take half of the mixture and press into a pie pan, being sure to cover the sides and doing your best to maintain even thickness all around. Bake the crust for 5 minutes at 350 degrees and let cool completely. 

Pie filling

4 apples, peeled and sliced into thin wedges (1/4 – 1/2 inch thick) (I use 2 Pink Lady and 2 Honeycrisp apples if available, but you can use any apple combination you prefer)

1 1/2 – 2 cups of date paste*

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

*date paste: soak 4 cups of pitted Medjool dates in a large bowl either overnight or use near-boiling water and cover bowl. Add dates to food processor with a 1/2 cup of the soaking water. Process until smooth, adding more soaking water as needed. 

ImageAdd all ingredients into a medium-large saucepan and heat covered on medium –
medium/low heat until apples are softened, approximately 10 – 15 minute, stirring occasionally. Let mixture cool to room temperature and then pour into pie crust. Take the other half of the pie crust mixture place it on a cutting board covered with parchment paper. Add small amounts of water to the mixture until it can be kneaded like dough. Put another piece of parchment paper on top so that you can use a rolling pin without it sticking. Roll out the “dough” until it’s large enough to cover the pie. Carefully roll onto rolling pin and unroll onto the pie. Use a fork to press the edges all around and poke 4-6 holes on top to allow heat to escape. Bake pie for 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve and enjoy!

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This recipe is fun an is open to personal adjustments. Share how you tweaked it to suit your needs. 

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Beat the Holiday Bulge

Are you worried about how the holidays will impact your waistline? Concerned that the spiked eggnog will hinder your ability to ‘just say no!’ to the array of desserts taunting you? Well, If your parties are anything like my family parties, you can easily consume 1000s of calories if you are not careful.

My suggestion, start eating before the party. Sounds counter-intuitive right? It is if you think I am talking about loading up on sugar cookies. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as building up a calorie tolerance. My suggestion is to eat a large salad (skip the blue cheese dressing of course) and a handful of walnuts right before you head out. It will keep you satisfied for at least an hour, letting you skip the appetizer period when people tend to eat the most.

At the party, drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated will also keep you from overeating. If staying sober is not an option, then be sure to go for lower calorie drink choices. Skip fruity drinks that are often loaded with calories and go for a glass of wine, a light beer, or a flavored liquor on the rocks. When drinking, pace yourself. Even a light beer can add over 500 calories in just one night if you are having 1-2 an hour. Being drunk will not help you with portion control either. If you can not tell me how many fingers I am holding up, then you will have a hard time distinguishing one brownie from six.

When it comes to eating at the party, choose the little plate. Getting the large plate just encourages you to fill it up and before you know it, you will have eaten every last bite. With the smaller plate, you will probably end up eating much less because you will have to get up and refill your plate four or more times to get the same amount of food as the big plate. Chances are, the booze you allotted yourself will keep you in your chair.

The last way to not regret the holidays is to keep exercising. Do not use the holidays as an excuse to become a bigger you. Even if you are in charge of cooking an elaborate meal, there are always time periods that there is nothing to do. Use that time to walk briskly around the block instead of taste-testing everything you have made.

Remember, the holidays are a great time to enjoy the company of others and to indulge (just a little!) on things you would normally avoid. By taking these extra steps, you can make your new years resolution that much easier to achieve.

Happy holidays!