I’m ready to admit it. You know you’ve done it, too. Even the healthiest eater has fallen under the spell of pie for breakfast at one time or another.
Then comes the rationalization. You wonder….could this possibly count as one of my fruit and vegetable servings for the day? You know and I know that that is probably really stretching the idea.
MyPlate recommends that we should fill half our plates with fruits and vegetables. That’s easy when you have plain fruits and vegetables, but what happens when they are combined with other foods—like pie crust and sugar? So what do you think? Does it count?
If it’s homemade pie, can you possibly could count the amount of real fresh fruit used in the filling. If the recipes calls for six cups of apples and you get six servings from the pie– that is one cup of raw fruit per slice. Commercially-made pie may need some additional research into ingredients. Usually ½ cup of those thick sugary fruit pie fillings will provide you with only ¼ cup of real fruit.
In general, most dietitians say that the fruit and vegetables in pie don’t count because of the high fat and sugar content that’s also in the recipe. That apple pie with six cups of apples also has one cup of sugar and almost a cup of solid fat in the two crusts.
One way that you can get the flavors (and satisfaction) of pie without all the added sugars or fat is to modify your recipe. Fruit crisps and cobblers are good options because they usually only have one crust (so less fat). Quite often you can also reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe without changing the flavor and thus letting the natural sweetness of the fruit come out.
Need some other ideas to satisfy your pie or dessert craving? Check out our free e-book Fruit Tooth written by Food and Health Communications President, Judy Doherty. This book helps readers learn how to satisfy a sweet tooth with fruit instead of with desserts loaded with fats and sugars. But watch out. Sometimes that pie just jumps out of the refrigerator at you.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS
Professor Emeritus, The Ohio State University