Apple Pie with Oat Pecan Topping

A few weeks ago we officially hit winter, yet I can honestly say I’m not ready. From as far back as October, the weather here in central Florida has been all over the place. It has either been too hot, too cold, or even rainy for days in a row, despite it supposedly being the dry season. There was honestly never a day where I could enjoy the flavors of autumn and have it feel like it was actually autumn outside. But since fall happens to be my favorite season, I decided to celebrate it today with my ultimate fall comfort dessert, apple pie. Apple’s seasonality may peak in fall, but thankfully you can always find this fruit’s warm, inviting colors year round in practically every store. This means, no matter the time of the year, you can always serve a delicious apple pie. To free me from the guilt associated with possible year round pie consumption, I’ve spent the past two months cleaning up and testing this recipe so that it can fit into any healthy lifestyle.

While apple pie is certainly not the worst dessert for your health, there is definitely a lot of room for improvement. So to begin the process of making this pie healthier, I had to first look at what makes it so desired and how those elements affect nutrition. This would then give me a foundation of what I could cut and what I needed to retain in order to improve the nutrition content without sacrificing taste. A traditional apple pie aims to please with a rich, flaky pastry crust on both the bottom and the top to encase the filling. This may taste delicious, but it also translates to a lot of fat (typically from shortening), and empty calories from heavily processed white flour. To avoid the downsides of a typical crust while also saving time, I opted for a frozen whole-wheat crust from my local organic market. The crust is made from whole wheat pastry flour and safflower oil, which boosts nutritional content, adds a bit of extra flavor, and contains less protein than regular flour, thus preventing the crust from getting tough and chewy. Since a lot of the calories in an apple pie come from the crust, I chose to ax the top layer altogether and go with a Dutch-style blend of oats, pecans, and cinnamon. This adds a nice texture to the pie, removes unnecessary calories/fat, and eliminates any stress that dealing with pie dough creates.

Once the pie crust was in order it was time to tackle the filling. Since apples are the star of the recipe, choosing the right variety is key. In my eyes, the definition of the perfect apple is crisp yet soft while also having a proper balance of sweet and tart. The Golden Delicious variety fits all of this criteria, providing the familiar, comforting taste we all know and love while also being easy to find in any supermarket. As a bonus, since Golden Delicious apples are not overly tart, I was able to cut the amount of added sugar this recipe needed significantly without sacrificing a pleasantly sweet filling. I opted for raw cane sugar as my added sweetener over a liquid sweetener like honey or a non-cane source such as maple sugar. The reason for this is due to the role sugar plays in fruit pies. Sugar influences how the juices in the pie thicken, making raw, organic cane sugar the better option. In addition to the type of sugar, I also relied on the help of tapioca flour and the natural thickening agent in apples, pectin, to ensure that my filling was neither too jelly-like or watery. To prevent some of the other common issues apple pies often face, like burnt crust or raw apples, I made sure to keep the apple slices thin, only about 1/8 of an inch thick. This step ensures that the crust gets cooked properly and the apples get tender, yet still offer some resistance when pierced (we aren’t making apple sauce here). To put the final touch on the filling I needed to add depth of flavor. I kept it simple and added just a bit of spice with cinnamon. The result was a delicious, healthy new take on a classic.

Making an apple pie can be intimidating, especially one that is designed to be healthier, but it is really not as difficult as it seems. Like anything else in life, take your time and enjoy the process. This apple pie is worth every bit of effort, as it tastes just as good as a traditional recipe but slashes calories, fat, carbs, sodium, and cholesterol in half, greatly reduces sugar, and increases the fiber content of each slice. Pie making is very much a labor of love and your body will love you for treating it with this healthier take on apple pie!

Apple Pie with Oat Pecan Topping


Ingredients

  • 1 Prepared Whole-Wheat Pie Crust; fresh or frozen
  • 6 Golden Delicious Apples; peeled, cored, & thinly sliced (1/8 in. thick)
  • ½ cup Raw Cane Sugar
  • ¼ cup Tapioca Flour
  • 1 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1¼ tsp. Ground Cinnamon; divided
  • ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 oz. Unsalted Raw Pecans; chopped
  • ¼ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Place prepared pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet. If using a roll-out variety of prepared pie crust, mist a 9 inch pie dish with cooking spray and then roll out dough into pie dish. Crimp sides down with a fork. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the apples, cane sugar, tapioca flour, vinegar, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and salt until combined.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together pecans, oats, and remaining ¼ tsp. cinnamon. Set aside.
  4. Spoon apple mixture into crust and spread evenly. Sprinkle pecan mixture over the top of the apple mixture. Cover top of pie loosely with foil. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350° and continue baking until liquid is bubbling, crust is golden brown, and apples offer only slight resistance when pierced, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove foil and cool on a wire rack. To serve warm, cool at least 20 minutes. For a cleaner slice, wait at least 2 hours before serving.

Nutrition

Per Serving (1 Slice): 257 Calories; 3 g Protein; 8 g Total Fat; 1 g Sat. Fat; 5 g Fiber; 146 mg Sodium; 25 g Sugar; 46 g Carbs; 19 mg Cholesterol.

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: J. O’HARA
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2020

Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cookies

Every new year can be a new you! It’s a common phrase that gets slung around this time of year. A time when the calendar resets as does our motivation to become better than who we were the previous year. It is a time when we make resolutions, set higher goals, and create plans of action to achieve those goals. As much as this phrase applies to most people around the world come January 1st, it has never been a thing for me. Sure I have goals I want to achieve, but it has never taken a specific time of the year to motivate me. I have always been a person that once I set my mind to something I start acting upon it. I don’t say things like “I will start this tomorrow” or “I will wait until next week”. Once I have something in mind I won’t wait a single moment more to start executing it in some capacity. That is how I started this website, that is how I re-branded this website, and that will be how I continue to operate this website.

Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with some cookies? You see, back in 2016 I had my second daughter and I was totally happy to have expanded my family but I was also completely miserable. I was morbidly obese, fatigued all the time, and just all around blah. This website was my therapy. I relied on the taste of good food to comfort me and writing about it continued to remind me of the feeling I got while eating it. Problem is, that high was always short-lived and never solved the real issues I was facing. In an attempt to extend the good vibes, I would just create more and more content. It got to a point where each year I would spend the entire time between Thanksgiving and Christmas preparing countless cookie recipes to share on this website, which I would of course indulge in thereafter. It was an endless cycle of self-torture. That is until I decided to make a change. It may not have happened for the new year but it would go on to change every year thereafter.

Since August of 2016 I have lost over 120 pounds and am in the best shape of my life. As great as this process has been, midway through my journey I realized that I had lost something along the way, that being this website. Since I no longer relied on food as therapy I was no longer making unhealthy desserts all the time, therefore leaving me with nothing to write about. It took me several months of being on hiatus until I finally realized that I could start over with a new philosophy. Just as I had hit a reset button on my life I could also hit the reset button on this website. The old desserts I used to love but had come to see as the enemy would once again become my friends, only this time as inspiration. A new mission had been born. A mission to create clean, delicious, and nutritious desserts that would fit my new healthy lifestyle while also keeping this website alive for all of you.

This year I may not have spent weeks preparing countless batches of unhealthy cookies to present to you over the holidays, but I do bring you this gem. It is not the lightest of recipes, but it is a lot more nutritious than any other holiday cookies you will find, which is still a win in my book. To achieve a moist yet gluten-free cookie base, I started with a blend of almond and coconut flours. To add delicious flavor and a slightly chewy texture, I created a healthier salted caramel using coconut milk and Sucanat. Lastly, for an elegant presentation, I topped each cookie off with a candied pecan. If you seek an indulgent, yet clean treat, look no further than these chewy, salted caramel cookies!

Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cookies


Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
  • ¾ cup Sucanat plus 2 tbsp.; divided
  • ½ cup Raw Unsalted Pecans
  • ½ cup Coconut Milk
  • 3½ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract; divided
  • ½ tsp. Sea Salt
  • 2½ cups Almond Flour/Meal
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Flour
  • ½ tsp. Baking Soda
  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil; melted
  • 2 tbsp. Raw Honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. To prepare candied pecans: Place a small saucepan on medium heat. Add maple syrup and 2 tbsp. Sucanat. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil and Sucanat dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and immediately add in pecans. Stir until pecans are fully coated. Spread pecans evenly on one of the prepared baking sheets. Set aside to cool, at least 5 minutes.
  3. To prepare caramel sauce: Place a small saucepan on medium heat. Add coconut milk and ¾ cup Sucanat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once mixture begins to boil, add 1½ tsp. vanilla and salt, stirring constantly. Cook caramel until thickened and a reddish brown color, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a glass bowl, and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.
  4. To prepare dough: In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, and baking soda until well blended. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour the contents of the small bowl (wet ingredients) into the contents of the medium bowl (dry ingredients) and blend with a fork until a dough forms. Add ½ cup of the caramel sauce to the dough and mix until well blended.
  5. Drop 1 tbsp. of dough at a time onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on baking sheet. Once cool, use a spoon to dab the tops of each cookie with the remaining caramel sauce. Place one candied pecan on each cookie. Store in an airtight container for 3 days. Use extra candied pecans on salads, over yogurt, in oatmeal, or as a sweet snack.

Nutrition

Per Serving (1 Cookie): 242 Calories; 4 g Protein; 17 g Total Fat; 7 g Sat. Fat; 3 g Fiber; 123 mg Sodium; 15 g Sugar; 19 g Carbs; 0 mg Cholesterol

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: K. KLEIN
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2019

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of chaos. I feel like summer just started, yet here we are, about to officially welcome fall. Time seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye because the past several weeks have been busier than usual for me. A few weeks ago my oldest daughter returned to school (first grade) and my youngest daughter started her first year of school (pre-K). Next up was the return of Hellenic Dance practice for my oldest and then we had family come to visit. Directly after that we spent several days bracing for a hurricane that thankfully avoided us almost entirely. The kids were off school for a few days so once they went back and schedules resumed normal operation, I quickly began work on building new workout routines/meal plans for my fitness groups, which happened to include coming up with this delicious, healthy cookie recipe.

Since my gears are still currently in the process of switching from summer to fall, I wasn’t quite ready to nose dive into everything fall flavored. I wanted to make something that used the warm spices of fall, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, but did not make apple and pumpkin the star of the show. I had a jar of organic pureed carrots that I wanted to use up before it expired so that became my starting point. This quickly led me to a craving for carrot cake, but I certainly had no ambition to make a cake with everything going on. The kids were begging for cookies so I thought, why not try making a carrot cake cookie.

To keep things plant-based and gluten-free, I started with a base of mashed bananas and oats. Rich and sweet, ripe bananas are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, like potassium. Bananas also lend a creamy texture while binding the dough together, thus avoiding the need for eggs. To add more moisture and nutrients to the dough, I used a jar of organic pureed carrots. Although you could certainly use finely shredded carrots, I prefer to use pureed. Not only does it save a step during prep and clean-up, but it also blends more smoothly into the cookie batter, which improves the texture of the final product while preventing kids and/or husbands from detecting its presence. The best part is it doesn’t even take much of the orange root veggies to add a significant nutrition boost. The relatively small amount of pureed carrots provides numerous antioxidants and nutrients, with soaring amounts of beneficial beta carotene and vitamin A.

Therefore, if you love sweets and need a clean cookie that will fit into your meal plan/macros, this recipe is for you. When consumed as part of a nutritionally balanced diet, these cookies are a treat you can feel good about eating!

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cookies


Ingredients

  • 2 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 4 oz. Jar Organic Pureed Carrots
  • 3 tbsp. Dried Unsweetened Cranberries
  • 3 tbsp. Chopped Unsalted Walnuts
  • 2 tbsp. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1¼ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Pumpkin Pie Spice

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas. Add oats, carrots, cranberries, walnuts, coconut flakes, cinnamon, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix well to combine.
  3. Wet fingers and scoop ¼ cup of mixture into your hands. Form into a ball and place onto prepared baking sheet. Gently flatten with hand. Continue with remaining batter.
  4. Bake cookies for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Extras can be frozen in freezer bags until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Nutrition

Per Serving: (1 Cookie): 91 Calories; 2 g Protein; 2 g Total Fat; 0.5 g Sat. Fat; 3 g Fiber; 3 mg Sodium; 3 g Sugar; 15 g Carbs; 0 mg Cholesterol

RECIPE ADAPTED FROM: A. VALPONE
PHOTOGRAPHY & STAGING: PETER MENDOROS

ALL REMAINING CONTENT © HONEYBEES PATISSERIE 2019