In The Sweet Pie and Pie

Karoline Boehm-Goodnick, writer, of the popular blog Karoline’s Kitchen, has made it her mission to make healthy food doable for us non-pastry chefs. In the hope of making gluttony no sin at all, CFYL caught up with Boehm-Goodnick to learn her secrets of a healthier pie. Here’s what she told us:

By making just a few basic changes in standard recipes, the pie can be a lot healthier. If you use whole wheat pastry flour, you can get a very delicate crust that is tender, and you also get all the benefits of whole wheat. So that’s a start. I use butter, which is way better as a fat than shortening or lard. Fat is fat, but shortening is the same stuff that clogs your arteries. Butter does too, but it’s without the hydrogenated oils that have been in the health news lately.

It’s hard to get around butter, but you can also make pie dough using canola oil or coconut oil. This dough is an interesting option if you’re looking to lower your cholesterol.

What are some other ways that pie can be reshaped to make it more healthy?

I advise using organic milk, butter, and eggs whenever possible. Buying organic is really important, especially when you’re talking about berries. There are some things you can buy non-organic, things that have skins–bananas, avocados, onions–because you discard the skins. But if you’re making a pie, if you can, choose organic fruits, or buy frozen organic berries if you can’t find fresh.
With pie, let the fruit shine through. You don’t need a lot of sugar. And skip refined sugar in favor of organic sugar that isn’t bleached and that has some of the trace minerals left in it.

When you describe letting the fruit shine through, can this approach be applied to non-fruit ingredients as well? 

Yes. Pumpkin pie, for example, is quite high in fiber and there are alternative sweeteners you can use, or you can simply use less sugar.  There are fruit juice sweeteners, similar to apple juice concentrate without chemicals. Date sugar is another thing people use. It adds sweetness but causes less of a spike in your blood sugar than cane sugar. Using a whole wheat crust will help with this too.

What’s your favorite healthy pie?

Pumpkin, hands down. It’s highest in fiber, lower in calories and it doesn’t have a top crust, so you’re only consuming the butter in the bottom crust. It’s also relatively cheap to make, and if you roast your own, you don’t have to use canned pumpkin. But regular pumpkin doesn’t make a great pie by itself so you have to add squash or sweet potato, something that’s bulky because fresh pumpkin is really watery.

What’s a general guideline when thinking about a whole foods approach to holidays?

There are always new studies saying what’s good for you and what’s not. Some things stay true and some things go in and out of favor, but if your holiday table is 75 percent vegetables or whole foods that didn’t come out of a can or a box or the freezer, then you’re making the right choices. It’s that simple.

What inspired you to start your blog, Karoline’s Kitchen?

What inspired me to do it was my husband’s dad — someone who had 50-plus years of really bad eating habits –getting sick. He had a soda addiction and ate a lot of Ho Hos and Ding Dongs and candy, and after 50 years he nearly went blind. He has diabetes, high blood pressure, and sky-high cholesterol.

So we decided to eliminate processed foods from our diet. It was a challenge for us. We spent the time to learn how to do things for ourselves, which was time-consuming. We also learned a lot about nutrition and learned that there are really easy things people can do to change the way they eat.

 Read more from Karoline on her healthy eating blog, You can also find her writing in The Boston Globe, The New Boston Globe Cookbook, Relish, The Girls Guide to the Galaxy, and Foodista: Best of Food Blogs


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