Tis Apple Season. And the Time for a Healthier Pie.

Back in the day, I absolutely loved fruit pies. Particularly apple and pumpkin during autumn. (Yes! Pumpkin is a fruit — not a vegetable.) The one thing, though, that can make me either devour or push aside this mouthwatering dessert is the crust.

Apple pie topping
This is not my mother’s pie. And it certainly isn’t the beauty she always pulled from the oven. But, in my book, it’s the next best thing: a pie in the apple. (If anyone out there tries this recipe and sends me a beautiful picture of their creation — a prettier version of mine — I will post it!)

It so happens that my momma’s speciality was rolling out the most delectable, flaky crust ever. OMG! She’s a retired cook these days. But, she was indeed a master at baking, and I used to love peeking in the oven to see the sugary cinnamon apple mixture ooze and bubble under her picture-perfect lattice topping.

But then my waistline started fluctuating. Oy.

When a slice of pie can weigh in at as much as 750 calories and 30 grams of fat (oh my!), it’s time to figure out a new way to enjoy seasonal delights. So while this recipe isn’t the to-die-for pie my momma once made, it’s fun and still satisfies the taste buds. Plus, I still get the indulgent taste of a buttery a crust.

I didn’t come up with the cute idea of turning a carved-out apple into a pie. I saw it in a magazine focused on healthy cooking. But when they suggested pouring in one or more cups of sugar into a fruit pie recipe, I backed away. There’s gotta be a better way.

What you will need to make my version:

Three medium apples                             Cranberries, dried                                Pastry*

Maple syrup (real stuff)                         Cinnamon

Lemon zest*                                              Tangerine

*I used prepared pastry dough, although I am always big on people making their own  foods instead of using prepared versions. But Dough Puck, sold only at HEB grocery stores, offers a tasty pastry. Besides, I cringe at the thought of having to buy shortening. Since I don’t always have lemons when I need a little zest, I keep a bag of it purchased from King Arthur.

Apple pie ingredients
Ingredients for my pie filling.

This is what I did: I carefully carved out the apples, making sure to leave the skin intact. I put the chunks of apple in a bowl. Because they were big chunks, I transferred them to a mini-processor to chop them up a bit more. Not mushy! Then back into the big bowl they went. I drizzled in about a tablespoon of maple syrup, sprinkled in dried cranberries, about a 1/4 cup (might chop these if they are big). I got mine from Trader Joe’s. I sprinkled cinnamon, about a teaspoon or more, and the same of the zest. I added a tablespoon of filtered water and used the juice from half a tangerine (to add more natural sweetness) — I would have preferred juicing an apple, adding that instead of the tangerine.

Preparing apple skins for pie filling
Carve out the apples carefully to leave the skins intact.

I spooned the filling into the apples, and then I rolled out the dough before cutting strips to a makeshift lattice. (Y’all can do better, I’m sure.) Into the oven they went. I had preheated it to 350 degrees. Let them cook until the dough browns lightly — about 45 minutes.

Apple pies into the oven
They are ready to bake.

I let them cool. But you also could serve them warm with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Each apple, without yogurt, totals about 270 calories, 8 grams of fat, 26 grams of sugar (although only 13 grams was added sugar; the rest came from fruits), 6 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and 130 grams of sodium.) Of course, you could add chopped walnuts, omit the maple syrup entirely and just use the pure fruit juice, which would be healthier. You can create whatever you like. Experiment.  Maybe you have a healthy pastry recipe you’d like to share?  I’m going to make my own the next time. In the meantime . . . Buen provecho.




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