When it comes to holiday entertaining, you may feel like you have ninety-nine problems, but a great pie should never be one of them. Pie is a classic dish of the festive season for several reasons: it's easy to make, it's a one-dish kind of dessert, and it's the epitome of a crowd pleaser. What's more, even a messy pie can still deemed a delicious success, so there's no need to worry about perfection! And , when made with a little forethought, pie can even be … dare I say … borderline healthy. (At least for a dessert!)
The trick to a healthier pie is utilizing the concept of ingredient upgrades, such as whipped coconut milk instead of dairy cream, coconut sugar or monkfruit instead of cane sugar, and allowing your pie filling to err on the side of fruits and nuts as opposed to processed sweeteners and fats.
Additionally, most pies are also surprisingly conducive to superfood additions, which can often add extra layers of flavor in addition to a boost of valuable vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Here's a rundown of some of my favorite pie-meets-superfood combinations:
Apple Pie – Apple pie almost feels like the original archetype for all pies, but just because it’s a classic doesn't mean you have to make it by the textbook. In fact, adding in a little bit of dried fruit is a delicious addition to the fresh apple filling, as the dried fruit will plump up with sweet apple juices as the pie cooks. Try mixing in heart-healthy dried white mulberries for a raisin-like addition, or chopped dried goldenberries or a bit of zesty flavor into your apple filling mix. Both add anti-inflammatory antioxidants and trace minerals like iron.
Berry Pie – Blueberry pie, strawberry pie, blackberry pie... all these favorites already have a healthy fruit base, but you can amp up the antioxidants ever further by mixing in additional superberries. To glean extra brain-healthy polyphenols, a generous scoop of acai powder goes very well with blueberries, while maqui powder can be added to strawberries and blackberries. You may not taste much of a difference, but your body will love the extra anti-aging nutrients.
Pumpkin Pie – With its heavy display of warming spices like cinnamon and ginger, pumpkin pie is perfectly suited for mixing in a little bit of balancing malty-flavored maca powder to help enhance energy, and increase the mineral content of your dessert. Or try a bit of the the powerful focus-boosting nootropic schisandra berry powder, which acts a little like nutmeg in flavor within this context.
Pecan Pie – This rich pie is a perfect place to circle in some nutty hemp seeds into the filling, which blend seamlessly with the pecans. Adding hemp seeds means you'll gain extra protein, as well as skin-friendly omega 3 fats. Or for a great way to boost your immune system while promoting relaxation (see ya holiday anxiety!), add in a bit of discrete reishi powder ... you won't even taste it!.
Cream Pies – Whether it's a banana cream pie, a custard pie, a mousse pie, or some kind of triple-decker creamy monument, my vote is to consider adding a touch of chocolate. You can go all out by flavoring your cream with cacao powder, or even just dust the top of your creation with a sprinkle of cacao – either way, those extra minerals and feel-good antioxidants are a great addition.
Curious about the crust? Try swapping butter for coconut oil, and white flour for a sprouted grain flour or at least a whole grain one like oat flour or spelt four. And for a foolproof superfood pie enhancement, simply add some chia seeds into the crust – chances are you won't even notice they're there, but they'll give your pie a fiber and calcium boost that's so valuable, it may just warrant having seconds.