Here's a real reason to celebrate this Independence Day: Pies don't have to be banned from a healthy diet.
The problem with many pies is that they are loaded with excess fat and sugar. The crust usually is the biggest culprit, with up to 220 calories and 15 grams of fat per serving.
But the fillings can be trouble as well. Even fruit fillings, which seem healthy enough, can be hiding more sugar than you think, and sometimes they are laced with butter.
Rather than give up your favorite pie, you could take the road of moderation and just enjoy a tiny slice.
The other strategy for keeping pie in your diet is to make one you can feel good about indulging in.
A good place to start is getting rid of the top crust. As for the filling, fruit is the right idea, just try to limit the sugar. Consider sweetening fillings with fruit juice concentrates or even purees, such as applesauce or apple butter.
Cream and custard pies, which often are made with full-fat dairy thickened with egg yolks, usually can be made lighter with low-fat milk, and using cornstarch or tapioca as a thickener. This single crust blueberry-peach custard pie uses several of these techniques to produce a more virtuous slice.
Several cups of fresh fruit are baked into a light custard made with only two whole eggs, skim milk and nonfat Greek-style yogurt, which adds body and a tangy hint that balances the natural sweetness of the peaches and blueberries.
BLUEBERRY-PEACH CUSTARD PIE
Start to finish: 3 hours (15 minutes active)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup (6 ounces) nonfat plain Greek-style yogurt
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch of salt
Store-bought, prepared pie crust dough (enough for one crust)
1 cup peeled, sliced peaches
1 cup blueberries
Position a rack in lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
To make the filling, in a medium bowl combine the sugar, milk, yogurt, eggs, flour, cornstarch, almond extract and salt. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll a sheet of pie crust into a 12-inch circle. Place the crust in the pie pan and trim so it overhangs evenly by about 1-inch.
Fold the edges under and crimp or flute the edge with your fingers or a fork. Place the pie pan on a baking sheet.
Arrange peaches in the bottom of the crust and top with the blueberries in an even layer. Pour the filling on top (the fruit will float but this won't affect the final results). Bake for 25 minutes.
After the pie has baked for 25 minutes and the filling is beginning to set, remove from oven and cover the edges of the crust with foil to help prevent over browning. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and return the pie to oven.
Bake until a knife inserted at the center of the pie comes out clean, another 20 to 25 minutes (the pie may puff up quite a bit but will settle during cooling). Let cool for 11/2 hours. Serve warm or refrigerate until cold and serve chilled.
Nutritional information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 200 calories (58 calories from fat), 6g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 41mg cholesterol, 34g carbohydrates, 4g protein, 1g fiber, 163mg sodium.