Nutrition Corner: Heart-healthy fruit pies

Nutrition Corner

Mary R. Ehret

Summer is here and the berries are abundant at the farmers markets and grocery stores. Can a fruit pie be heart healthy? Yes, fruit pies can be a healthy choice. The secret is the type of fat used to make the crust and of course, the amount consumed.

A heart healthy diet includes lots of fruits, nuts, whole grains and unsaturated fats. A pie made with berries, white whole wheat flour, unsaturated fat and topped with a crumb crust made with almonds or walnut could just fit the bill.

Fats come from both vegetable and animal food sources. They are made up of fatty acids which are a percentage of unsaturated and saturated. Vegetable sources of fat by nature are unsaturated. Palm and coconut oils are two exceptions.

Some examples of unsaturated oils are olive, canola, peanut, corn, sunflower and safflower. Olive, peanut and canola oils are the most heart-friendly because they have a higher percentage of unsaturated fatty acids.

Animal food sources are saturated. They have a higher about of saturated fatty acids. Trans fats, also a saturated fat, can be found in animal foods, however, only a small amount. Most are found in commercially-prepared foods where food manufacturers add hydrogens to oil, hence the name, partially or fully-hydrogenated oil.

Our hearts function best when the arteries are open and clear of obstructions. Saturated fats may raise Low Density Lipoproteins which carry cholesterol around the body in the arteries. Excess may be deposited in arteries, causing narrowing and possible blockage. This increase the risk of heat attacks and stroke.

Recently, FDA has banned the use of partially-hydrogenated oils, as they are not generally recognized as safe (GRAS) for any use in human food. FDA is providing a three-year compliance period for companies. Consumers are urged to check the ingredients list to see if partially-hydrogenated oils have been added. Foods with commonly added partially-hydrogenated oils are crackers, cookies, cakes, microwave popcorn, stick margarines, coffee creamers, refrigerated pie doughs and ready-to-use frostings.

Making pie crust at home instead of buying pre-made pie crust might just be a making a comeback Try your hand at it with this recipe that uses unsaturated fat canola oil.

If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a quart bottle filled with water. Chill it before using and, with a little flour, the dough will have less of a chance to stick.

Trans Fat Free Pie Crust

2 cups white whole wheat flour

2/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup skim milk plus 2

Gently mix all ingredients together being careful not to over mix. Form into two balls and flatten each ball slightly. Roll dough between 2 pieces of waxed paper. Peel off top

sheet and fit dough, paper side up, into pie plate. Remove paper.

For single crust pie, trim ½ inch beyond edge of pan, fold under, and flute edge. Prick bottom and sides well with fork. Bake at 450º for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

For double crust pie, trim lower crust even with rim of pie plate. Tuck top crust under edge of lower crust. Flute edge of pastry as desired. Cut slits in top crust to allow

steam to escape. Bake according to individual recipe.

Adapted from the Art of Pie Making, Utah State Cooperative Extension

Blueberry Pie

2 pie crusts to fit a 10” pie (recipe above)

5 cups blueberries

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 tablespoons lemon juice

5 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in water

Make the pie crusts and place one in a 10” pie plate. In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients except the corn starch. Cook over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Stir in the corn starch and stir constantly until it thickens. Remove from heat, cool.

Place it in the pie crust and place the other pie crust over it.

Pinch the pie crusts together and make steam holes in the top of the pie and, bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the crust is golden brown.

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at

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