Oh, desserts, how I love you. Cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream – I really am enamoured of you all. I try not to overindulge but there are times when the allure of dessert is almost irresistible. The holiday season is one of those times, so I’ve put together a few tips to help indulge one’s sweet tooth without regret-inducing excess. Before we get to this great guilt-free pie (which also happens to be gluten-free AND vegan AND no-bake!), here are a couple of calorie-cutting suggestions:
- When rolling pie crust (whether homemade or purchased), try to roll it a little thinner than you normally would. Believe it or not, this small gesture will cut quite a few calories from each serving of pie. This is more easily accomplished if you roll out your crust between two sheets of parchment paper.
- Consider smaller pie pans, which lead to smaller servings. For my family, I like to make pies in a 6 or 7 inch (15 to 17.5 cm) pan. It’s the perfect size for us each to have one generous serving, and then the pie is GONE, removing future temptation. Little 4 inch (10 cm) pans are ideal for two small servings.
- Ditch the crust! While I am a huge fan of pastry, many people prefer the filling portion of the pie. You can make a delicious up a batch of homemade pie filling by cooking up your favourite fruit with just a little bit of water, spices and a splash of maple syrup. For example, peel and core two apples, then cut into small pieces. Put the apple in a small saucepan with 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of water plus 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each of powdered ginger and cinnamon. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until apples are softened. Add a tablespoon (15 mL) of maple syrup and let cool. Make several parfaits with vanilla yogurt and the apple pie filling, topped with a drizzle of honey or cinnamon balsamic.
As promised, here’s the guilt-free pie recipe. Enjoy. Have seconds.
- 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) raw almonds soaked overnight in water
- 10 Mejool Dates, pitted
- ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
- 3 medium sized ripe avocados
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) good-quality cocoa powder
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) maple syrup (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
- Fresh raspberries, to garnish
- Make the crust by draining the soaked almonds then grinding them finely in a food processor or sturdy blender. You may need to stir the mixture in the blender for even grinding.
- Add the dates, cinnamon and maple syrup to the ground almonds then continue to blend; the mixture should start to stick together in a coarse dough-like consistency.
- With your fingertips, press the crust mixture into the bottom or sides of a pie plate.
- Make the filling by halving the avocadoes with a sharp knife and removing the pits. Scoop out the flesh and put in a clean food processor or blender. Add the cocoa, sweetener and vanilla and blend until thick and smooth, scraping down sides of blender a few times. Taste and add more maple syrup if you like. The filling should not be overly sweet.
- Spoon the filling into the nut crust and level out the top.
- Put in the freezer for about an hour to firm up then garnish with berries before serving.
- If kept in the freezer for more than an hour, be sure to remove pie at least an hour before serving.
Makes one 9 inch (22.5 cm) pie.