Let’s face it, during the holiday season a lot of us (okay, most of us) throw caution to the wind when it comes to our diet. Calories, fat, sugar…who cares? I get that. As the step-mother of someone who has diabetes with many weight watcher friends and fans – and a nutritionist – I also appreciate however that going full gusto with calorie, carb, and sky-high “point” fare can leave one with one heck of a holiday food hangover filled with remorse.
I am happy to say that you CAN have it all. You can enjoy the holidays and every day after. This apple pie is a good example of that. First and foremost, it looks and TASTES like comfort-laden homemade apple pie should. Second, with just 210 calories, 1/3 of the usual carbs, and 5 Smart Points per slice, the “savings” over store-bought or traditional apple pie recipes are significant. (A piece of crumb-topped apple pie from a pie shop averages 500 calories, 70 grams carb, and 20 points. And that “sugar-free” apple pie, well, if you buy it at Marie Callendar’s you are still looking at 510 calories and 60 grams of carbs!)
The original recipe for this pie (now a delicious Thanksgiving tradition in my home) came from a booklet produced in Placerville, CA, also known as “apple country.” I have re-tooled it to make it more diet friendly but kept every bit of its essence, from the wonderful cinnamon-laced filling and irresistible crumb topping to the unique technique of cooking it in a paper grocery bag. The bag recirculates the steam created by the apples and imparts a wonderful texture, along with golden browning. And there is nothing better than ripping open the bag to see the picture perfect warm apple pie inside.
Note: Over the years, I must say I have made and eaten this pie more times than I can count. The USDA has now suggested this cooking method may not be safe due to the chemicals and dyes in some bags. If this of concern to you, you can cook it in a store-bought plastic cooking bag (like the ones used to roast meat). As per our family tradition, I still pull out a grocery bag every year, but either method makes for a great pie.
Makes 8 servings
1 Single-Crust unbaked pie crust (Pillsbury refrigerated dough works great)
6 medium baking apples (about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons granulated no-calorie sweetener**
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated no-calorie sweetener**
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons margarine
1 brown paper bag (or 1 Brown-and-Serve cooking bag + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. (Make sure top rack is in the center of the oven.) Prepare and set aside one 9-inch unbaked pie pastry shell.
2. Pare, core, and quarter apples. Halve each quarter crosswise to make chunks. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with lemon juice. Add 6 tablespoons sweetener, flour, and cinnamon and toss to coat well. Spoon coated apples into the shell.
3. Prepare topping: Combine 1/2 cup sweetener, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the topping over the apples, covering the entire top of the pie.
4. Place a large brown grocery bag in the middle of a cookie sheet. push the sides open and slip the pie into the bag. Close the front bag. give the closed end a fold to seal and use a stapler to seal it shut. Make sure pie is in the middle of the cookie sheet. (Alternately, place 1 tablespoon of flour into Brown-and-Serve bag and shake. Place the bag on a cookie sheet, slide pie into the cooking bag and seal.) Bake for 50 minutes. (Note: If using a paper bag, while cooking, you might note a burned paper smell. It does not affect the pie, nor have I ever had a problem. Simply ignore it, but do stay home while it cooks). After 50 minutes make a slit in the bag and peek to check to see if the edges are bubbly and the top is browned. If not, close the oven and cook another 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Remove sheet pan from oven. Carefully open the bag, remove the pie, and place on a rack to cool.
*When choosing a frozen pie crust, select one that is “deep dish.”
**If you prefer to use a low-calorie blend like Truvia Sugar Blend for Baking (or another 50/50 stevia/sugar blend). Use 3 tablespoons in the pie and 1/4 cup in the topping (adds 15 calories, 4 g carb and 1 smart point.)
Nutrition Information Per Serving
Calories 210 : Fat 9g (2.5 saturated) : Carbohydrate 29g (sugar 14 grams) : Fiber 2g : Protein 2g : Sodium 140mg | Food Exchange: 1 Fruit : 1 Carbohydrate : 2 Fat : Carbohydrate Choices : Weight Watcher Plus Point Comparison: 6 points Smart Points: 5
Bakeries often carry no-sugar-added apple pies during the holidays. One of the most popular ways to sweeten them is to use concentrated apple juice. But isn’t that sugar? You bet, but fruit juice is not considered an “added sugar” by the FDA; therefore, the label is legal. Always check labels carefully before you buy—or better yet—make your own pie.