Healthy Holiday Recipes: Pies (and then some)

Last year, I shared several three holiday cookie recipes with you…so this year, I’m stepping it up with 2 pie recipes, the world’s most versatile quick bread (loaf), and my favorite cranberry sauce that I like to eat on top of oatmeal or yogurt at breakfast.  (You can throw some crystallized ginger into it, too!)  If you make an especially pretty version, send me a photo!

Crustless Pecan Pie

I took the crust off because I wanted to save the butter (and the carbs) for the filling!).  Makes 8 servings.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup packed coconut or light brown sugar
2/3 cup coconut syrup* (or use ready-made coconut or agave nectar)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, lightly beaten
5 packets of Stevia in the Raw
1/2 cup pecan halves
*to make syrup, combine 2/3 cup coconut sugar and 2/3 cup water in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered on medium-low until reduced, about 10 minutes.
If making syrup, keep the syrup in the saucepan and proceed with the remaining steps.

In medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, nectar or syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and stirring constantly, continue to boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped pecans, stevia, and the vanilla. Set the mixture aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.  Whisk the beaten eggs into the filling until smooth.

Pour the filling into 8 greased ramekins and decorate each with several pecan halves, pressing down to stick them to the filling. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until set but not darkened.

Crustless Pumpkin (Cheesecake) Pie

Either version of this dessert is so “guiltless” that you could probably even eat it for breakfast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz can pumpkin puree
  • 3 egg whites (or 3 tablespoons egg whites from a carton)
  • 3 packets of stevia or ¼ cup sugar
  • spices: a total of 1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and/or nutmeg to taste, or 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

For the optional cheesecake layer:

  • 1 8-oz package of cream cheese (regular or fat-free), softened
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 egg whites (or 2 tablespoons egg whites from a carton)

Really optional:

  • 12 pecan halves and 1 teaspoon brown sugar for garnish

Grease a small (8” x 8” or smaller) baking dish or tart pan. Preheat the oven to 350F. Combine all of the ingredients for the pumpkin layer and mix well. If adding the cheesecake layer, whisk together the cheesecake layer ingredients in a separate bowl. For pumpkin-only pie, pour the pumpkin mixture into the prepared pan. If adding the cheesecake layer, spread the cheesecake mixture into the prepared pan and top with the pumpkin layer. If adding the garnish, top the pumpkin layer with the pecan halves and sprinkle each pecan with a pinch of brown sugar. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until set; the full “pie” should be firm. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. To serve, cut into bars or slices; the pie will be firmer and hold its shape better when chilled.


Banana (or Pumpkin…or Apple…) Bread

This recipe can accommodate whatever fruit you’d like to use – though baking often gets a rap for being “scientific” and “precise”, this recipe is flexible and forgiving. You can even cut the baking time down to about 20 minutes, add ½ teaspoon more of baking powder, and bake this as muffins!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cups mashed overripe bananas, pureed pumpkin, grated apples, applesauce, or other fruit
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ cup sugar or 2 packets of stevia
  • 2 cups oats, ground to flour in a food processor
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (1 ½ teaspoons for muffins)
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • spices: a total of 1-2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon, cloves, ginger, black pepper, and/or nutmeg to taste
  • ½ cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds (optional)

Grease a loaf pan (or line muffin cups with papers). Preheat the oven to 350F. Mix the oil, fruit, eggs, vanilla, and sugar or stevia thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bake the loaf for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; for muffins, bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they pass the toothpick test. Cool either format in its pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and finish cooling.


 

Cranberry Sauce

Many cranberry sauce recipes call for lots of sugar to help the sauce set. Apple cider contains plenty of pectin, which will help the sauce gel without adding refined sugar.

Ingredients:

  • 12 oz fresh cranberries, washed
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or brown sugar if desired (or more to taste)

Bring the apple cider and ½ cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the cranberries and sugar, and simmer until the berries have popped and the sauce has begun to thicken (about 15 minutes on medium heat).

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