Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Healthy Holiday Apple Cranberry Mini Pie

 Here is my winning healthy holiday pie recipe featured on the Today Shows recipe contest " Too Good to Be Healthy Holiday Pies". I created this recipe while trying to come up with a healthy holiday treat for my family and friends to enjoy!

To make this recipe healthy I used a  low fat cinnamon graham cracker pecan crust instead of pastry crust. In the filling I cut back on the added sugar and used  apples, anti-oxidant rich cranberries and orange zest for great combination of sweet and tart flavor!  To top it all off I added a oatmeal crumb topping for added texture and flavor!

For a fun a healthy twist I used a muffin tin to make the pie recipe into mini pies!  This not only makes for a fun and easy way to enjoy pie but also helps with portion control!  In comparison to 500 calories in an average piece of  pie, these mini pie only contain 180 calories a piece!

 Apple Cranberry Mini Pie

  • 10 cinnamon graham cracker sheets ( ~ 1 ½ cups crushed )
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 
  • 2 tablespoons milk, fat-free

  • 3 medium (4 small) apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh
  • ½ teaspoon orange zest
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup maple syrup
  • 1/8 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch

  • ¼ cup old fashioned oats
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons milk, fat-free
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • ½  teaspoon cinnamon

  1. Pre –heat oven to 350 degrees. Fill 12 cup muffin tin with muffin liners.
  2. To make crust. Crumble graham crackers and pecans in food processor, add oil and milk and combine until smooth. Evenly fill muffin tins with ~ 3 tablespoons of crust mixture. Press crust mixture down evenly into muffin cups. Bake crust in pre-heated oven for 5 minutes.
  3. To make filling. Combine apples, cranberries, orange zest and cinnamon. In a separate dish, mix cornstarch with orange juice to dissolve. Pour orange juice mixture and maple syrup over fruit mixture and combine. Evenly fill crusts with fruit mixture.
  4. To make topping. Mix together all topping ingredients and then sprinkle over the top of the fruit mixture.
  5. Bake mini pies in oven for 25-30 minutes.

Servings: Makes 12 individual pies

 Nutrition Facts (per serving):  180 Calories, 6 grams Total Fat, 1 gram Saturated Fat,
0 grams Cholesterol, 68 grams Sodium, 30 grams Total Carbohydrate, 2 grams Dietary Fiber, 2 grams Protein

To see the segment and recipes from the other contestants click the link below

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gluten Free, Is It for You?

          Gluten free diets have become a recent diet trend among celebrities and people alike. With the increasing popularity and availability of gluten free foods I have gotten a lot of questions about the diet like " Should I be following a gluten free diet?" and "Are gluten free foods healthier?".  The answer to both if these questions is not necessarily and here is why....
          People who should be following a gluten free diet have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or have a gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which you have an immune reaction to gluten, a protein found in food products containing wheat, barley and rye. This immune reaction causes damage to the lining of the small intestines preventing the absorption of essential nutrients which could lead to malnutrition and vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Symptoms usually include abdominal cramping, bloating, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, and anemia. If you have any of these symptoms, I recommend seeing your primary care physician for further evaluation. Diagnosing Celiac disease includes a series of lab tests and possibly a biopsy of the intestines. If diagnosed, treatment includes strict lifelong adherence to a gluten free diet. People who have suffered symptoms related to Celiac disease often see immediate relief after starting on a gluten free diet. 
           Gluten free grains like rice, potatoes, corn, quinoa, sorghum, buckwheat, and amaranth are just as healthy as gluten containing grains, if incorporated into a well balanced diet. So, if you don't have an intolerance, there is no health benefit from restricting gluten from your diet. 
     The take home message is, if you have Celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity following a gluten free diet is necessary for health, but if not you should be following a well balanced diet containing gluten and non-gluten containing grains!

For more information on Celiac Disease and Gluten Free Diet please visit

       For those of you who have to follow a gluten free diet, check out this recipe for delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies!

Gluten-Free Whole Grain
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

·         1 ½ cups Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking and Pancake Mix
·         1/2 cup room temperature unsalted butter
·         ½ cup brown sugar
·         1 large egg
·         1 teaspoon vanilla extract
·         1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

      1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
      2.    Line 2 large un-greased baking sheets with parchment paper.
      3.    Place room temperature butter, brown sugar in mixing bowl. Beat on high until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
      4.    Add the gluten-free flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low until combined.
5.    Add chocolate chips and beat just until blended.
6.    Use a 1 tablespoon cookie scoop or tablespoon to drop cookie dough on prepared baking sheets. Space cookies 1 1/2-inches apart. Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.