Friday, March 25, 2011

No bake, guilt free, pie

By most popular usages of the term, sugar free, fat free pudding is "guilt free". In fact its not only guilt free due to its sugar free, fat free status - it also delivers a serving of milk, a good source of calcium, vitamin D (if fortified milk) and lean protein.

But that's not guilt free enough. OK its not "bad" for you, and its even sort of good, but I like to live by a 2 positive/1 neutral (or 3 positive/1 negative) rule. That is to say a prepared food should have 2 pluses going for it for each neutral. In this case, its only 1 plus (milk) and 1 neutral (fat free).  I can’t really consider any laboratory creation, as packaged, powdered, made with unpronounceable ingredients product to be “good” for you.

So inspired by personal rule and my flavor selection (cheesecake) I made a healthy no bake crust for myself. It’s something I've been working on for a while now and I think this time I pretty much have it down.  Honestly, I like it better then the modern classic graham cracker crust most people use.

And I believe it happens to be gluten free.  I’m not on a gluten free, or even low gluten diet, but gluten is something many people have to worry about so I thought this distinction was pretty nifty.

I use 5 minute oats and slivered almonds. I don't think either make a big difference but thought it worth mentioning (although for a truly gluten free version, use oats you know for a fact to be gluten free as I’ve read some conflicting info).  I toast the oats in my big cast iron skillet, dry. And I use XlyoSweet sweetener, a low calorie sugar alcohol made from the fibrous part of plants (corn cobs and birch trees, YUM!) The flax gives it a nice nutty flavor, which blends well with the almond and of course increases the healthful factor significantly.

My raisins were kind of old so I soaked them in hot water for about 5 minutes. The moistness is key. Definitely strain them though, if you soak yours. Moist is good, too wet is bad.

The "cinnamon mix" is a blend I keep on hand at all times. Its 3 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp salt. It’s great to use just about anytime, for savory or sweet foods, and really added that extra something to this recipe.

No Bake Crust
1/2 cup 5 minute oats, toasted
1/4 cup almonds
1 tbsp flax meal
1 tbsp sweetener
1/2 cup raisins
Sprinkle cinnamon mix
Pinch of salt

Put the dry ingredients in a food processor and process for about a minute. Add the raisins & process for another minute or so. Press into custard cups.

Fill with instant pudding, prepared as directed on the box, or any pie filling appropriate for a no-bake pie crust that you might like. 

It’s so good, and it’s actually good for you, delivering whole grains, healthful oils, fiber and protein. The raisins keep it sticky and moist as well as adding to its sweetness and the toasted oats and flax make for a good depth, with the smooth almond flavor to balance it all out.

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