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Cutting fat and calories while keeping the taste in holiday favorites isn't an easy task to master, but you can reduce the sugar and a little fat from the recipe without spoiling it.

In this apple pie recipe, the original version of which calls for 12 tablespoons of butter, you can cut it back to 5 tablespoons. You'll save a load of calories and fat grams while preserving the flaky, butter taste. In addition, using real butter instead of vegetable shortening intensifies the rich, buttery flavor, yet cuts fat by 58 percent.

Three quick no-fuss crusts

Here are some ways to cut the fat and calories in three other popular pie crusts:

* Nut crust For chiffon, pudding or low-fat ice cream pies, try a quick nut crust. To prepare: Preheat oven to 375° F. Mix 1 cup finely ground pecans, walnuts or almonds with 2 tablespoons sugar until combined. Beat 1 egg white to soft peaks; fold in nuts and sugar mixture into egg white. Line a greased 9-inch pie plate with a circle of waxed paper cut to fit. Press mixture into pan bottom and sides. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven, using a spatula; loosen crust around edges; cool on a rack 10 minutes. Gently lift crust and pull out wax paper. Return crust to pan and fill.

* Cereal crust If you're not looking to re-create Grandma's perfect crust and want to keep your calories in check while still enjoying a homey fresh-baked pie, make a corn or wheat-flake cereal crust. To prepare: Preheat oven to 400° F. Place 3 cups finely ground unsweetened cereal (such as Kellogg's Corn Flakes or All-Bran), 2 tablespoons butter and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl. Using a fork, mix until well combined. Press into bottom and sides of 9-inch pie plate. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden.

* Crustless pies If pie crust from scratch is too daunting, try a quick crumble crustless pie. Here's a crustless pecan-pie recipe: Preheat oven to 400° F. Place 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans, a pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl. Stir with a fork until combined. Add 3 tablespoons light butter, slightly softened, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Stir until mixture is crumbly. Pour pecan mixture into an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Cover tightly with foil; using a knife, cut a 1-inch vent in center. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil, pour in your favorite filling and serve.

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