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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Make it Healthier: Lentil Soup

When your are trying to eat healthier, you don’t always have to reach for the health cookbooks. Your favorite recipes, and even new recipes you have been dying to try, can be changed around to be healthier. From now on, I am going to start posting some of the recipes I have changed and the estimated impact on their nutritional values.

In Gainesville, I got very involved with soups. I made all kinds of soups, but one of my favorites is lentil soup. I found this recipe on the food network but I wasn’t thrilled about all the ingredients. I try to use very little meat, if any, in the dishes I cook at home. Making something vegetarian is an easy way to get rid of calories and fat in a meal. I also changed the kind of broth and the quantity to help reduce sodium. I added no extra salt and added black pepper to taste. This makes approximately 11, 1 cup servings.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

4 large celery stalks, sliced

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced

1 large white onion, chopped

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves

1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano

4 cups of low sodium organic vegetable broth

4 cups of water

2 (14-ounce) cans of diced tomatoes (basil, garlic, oregano flavored) in juice

1 bag (about 14 ounces) of lentils, rinsed

Directions:

Saute the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, oregano, and rosemary in the olive oil until the onions are translucent. Add the vegetable broth, water, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring it to a boil and then add the lentils. Reduce to a simmer, and cover. It should take about 40 minutes for the lentils to become tender. Add black pepper to taste and serve.

Approximate calculations of nutritional value per 1 cup serving:

Calories: 144

Fat: 2 g

Saturated Fat: 0.3 g

Sodium: 422 mg

Carbohydrates: 30 g

Fiber: 12 g

Sugar: 4 g

Protein: 10 g

Comparing this to the original recipe you are avoiding approximately 126 calories, 506 mg of sodium, 5 g of fat, 2 g of saturated fat, 57 mg of cholesterol per serving! You could take this recipe even further by purchasing canned tomatoes with no salt added and by skipping the sautéing part by cooking the vegetables in the broth or by sautéing and draining the oil prior to adding the broth.

These strategies can be used in tackling all your favorite recipes. Even though you may not think that it makes a huge difference, every little bit matters.

Happy cooking everyone!

***Keep in mind, these are approximations based on brands I have used and the brands I have compared them too. The above figures are just to give you an estimation of the benefits of making these changes.