Holiday baking tips from Mama Vicky

Cookies...yum!
Cookies…yum!

It has been quite a while since I have posted anything from my kitchen. While I am not going to share a recipe for a particular item, I am going to share some tips that you might find tasty and useful. I was really hoping to have these suggestions posted a week before Thanksgiving in case people wanted to try them. But, I am a day late and more than a dollar short. Hopefully, these tips might help with your Christmas preparation.

Let’s talk about pies. Mmmm, good. They may be yummy but they can pack a calorie punch and contain fats such as lard, butter, etc. Also often they are made with refined white flower. Refining the flour causes it to lose its fiber content. Fiber is good for a variety of things. So here are some suggestions. Use heart-healthy oils like canola or olive instead. And you can skimp a little on the amount you use and it won’t ruin your creation. Did you know that applesauce can also replace oil and butter in your pie crust recipe? Yep, it’s true. (It’s also great to use when baking cakes or breads, like banana and pumpkin, etc. It makes the cakes and breads moist without all of the oil.) Try using whole wheat or oat flour for the crusts. This is a good way to increase fiber and still  have the flakiest crust around.  Just as an FYI, try choosing pie recipes that call for only one crust, instead of two, and you will save 120 calories per slice.

Now, think about the pie innards. Fillings start out nutritionally sound, but once they are doctored up they can turn into high-calorie treats. Try cutting the amount of sugar by half or leaving it out all together. I can do the half amount, but I am not sure I could leave out all of the sugar. However, there are some substitutes. Applesauce is an excellent substitute for butter. For fruit pies, replace the sugary syrups with 100% fruit juice. For the ambitious make your fillings from scratch. One year, I skinned a pumpkin, cut it into small chunks, and steamed them ‘til soft. I mashed them and then made my pies out of the pumpkin and added my spices, etc. The pies were good, lighter in color. I am not sure what is added to canned pumpkin to make it such a dark orange. It was a lot of work as pumpkin skinning is not easy. I can honestly see why getting canned pumpkin makes life simpler.

Though I don’t eat apple pie, I make it for those who do. Use fresh Pippin apples and then add your cinnamon, etc. It’s simple enough to do, not like the pumpkin, and it tastes so much fresher than from the can.

Bon Appetit!

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