Amazing Healthy Squash Pie With Oat & Apple Cider Crust

This Healthy Squash Pie With Oat & Apple Cider Crust is simply amazing!!  My favorite dessert recipe to date!  You can enjoy it guilt free, as it's high in potassium, salt-free, and full on sweet flavor with a touch of warming fall spices.  A perfect holiday dessert!






 
What also makes this deliciously satisfying Squash Pie With Oat & Apple Cider Crust healthy in my book is that it is lower in fat than most typical Squash Pie recipes, and sweetened mostly with honey.

I tweaked recipes I found online, and made a couple substitutions that worked out perfectly.  The Oat Crust is made with a little oil (rather than a stick of butter) flour, and cold apple cider.  The original recipes I based mine off of are also linked below.

For the batter, I swapped out the evaporated milk used in many recipes which is high in fat for a blend of nonfat dry milk powder, water, half and half and a little thickener.  It's mostly sweetened with honey, but I did add a little sugar as it helps with getting the right texture and just right sweet flavor.

When I researched how to make a substitution for evaporated milk online, I found a few options, including using either all half and half, all heavy cream, or using milk or nonfat milk powder, but adding a tablespoon of cornstarch.  I used nonfat milk powder blended with water,  a little half and half, and a little kudzu root, which worked perfectly.  You can make your own substitution as you need, including those just mentioned, but it will change the total fat content.  




Remember, you can always make a real whipped topping, so maybe save your fat splurge for that?  

Actually, I even made a creamy topping with nonfat milk powder if you can believe it!  The 'whipped topping' recipe is on the package.  It worked!  It just takes longer and doesn't quite come out as whipped, but it did come out thick enough and tasted great on the Squash Pie.   

Nonfat milk powder is my new favorite ingredient to use as it is a good source of calcium.  It  provided the same texture and taste I was expecting from my limited experience with both tasting and making a Squash Pie.   


Buttercup (flatter top) and butternut squash in foreground of top photo,
kabocha, more rounded top in background.  Honeynut is a new hybrid of 
butternut, and has a nice, nutty sweet butternut flavor, which would likely
also make a great Squash Pie.  Honeynut can be seen in the bowl above, 
and below photos.


Our absolute favorite, super dense and sweet squash is a kabocha squash, which I recommend for this pie.  However, they have been harder to come by locally this year, due to more rain I am told by local growers.  

Buttercup is another good choice, which can look similar to kabocha.  Both have a forest green color, and more mottled texture versus the smooth forest green acorn squash.   Kabocha has a bit more of a pumpkin shape; buttercup typically has a flatter top, and sometimes what looks like a cap on top.  Both may have some orange coloring on the surface, and both should be a nice deep orange flesh color inside.  If either is pale yellow inside, it's probably not worth using for Squash Pie.  Unfortunately, it may not taste very good at all.


Choose squash that are heavy for their size.  Butternut or honey butternut squash can also be used in lieu of kabocha or butternut.  

Roast squash first by cutting in half, removing seeds, then baking on a baking pan lined with parchment paper, open side down, at 375º until squash is soft to the touch, about 40-45 minutes.  Let cool, or prepare the night before.


Amazing Healthy Squash Pie With Oat & Apple Cider Crust Recipe





OAT CRUST WITH APPLE CIDER  (I adopted this recipe from the Low Calorie Pie Crust at Skinny Fitalicious, found here.)

1&1/2 cups oats, ground
~1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. (maybe more) flour ~ white whole wheat, whole wheat or unbleached all purpose
1/4 cup oil ~ extra virgin olive oil, high oleic sunflower oil, or a blend, which is what I used
~4-5 Tbsp. iced apple cider (or use water)
1-1&1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar or coconut sugar, or a blend

  1. Preheat oven to 350º and butter or grease a 9 inch pie baking dish.
  2. Grind oats in a food processor or blender until resembling stone ground flour
  3. Place in a bowl, add flour, then stir in oil with a fork until combined, and oat flour is crumbly
  4. Add sugar.  I actually used a little coconut sugar and a little regular sugar.  The original recipe called for only 2 teaspoons of coconut sugar.  I upped my sugar a bit, using about 1&1/2 tablespoons total, half coconut and half granulated sugar.  Use less if you prefer.
  5. Add in very cold or iced apple cider 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until it comes together as a dough.  It may be a little sticky but should stick together like a ball.  Add more flour if too sticky.  Or, if not sticking together add a bit more cider or water.
  6. Press evenly into  pie dish.  Bake 10 minutes until crust is lightly golden brown.  Remove and set aside while preparing batter.





SQUASH PIE BATTER  (My base recipe for the Squash Pie batter is from Eating Well, found here.)  

This recipe is super easy if made right in a food processor or blender

2/3 cup water
5 Tbsp. nonfat dry milk powder
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 Tbsp. kudzu root dissolved in 1-2 Tbsp. cold water (or sub 1 Tbsp. arrowroot powder, gelatin, or cornstarch)
1 whole egg
2 egg yolks 
2 cups baked and cooled kabocha, buttercup, butternut, or honeynut squash  (see how to roast, above recipe)
1/3 cup honey 
3&1/2 Tbsp. granulated sugar 
1 tsp. white vanilla extract
Spices: 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 tsp. nutmeg, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1/8 tsp. ground ginger

  1. In a measuring cup or small bowl, add 2/3 cup of cold water, then whisk in 5 Tbsp. of nonfat dry milk powder.  It should be a bit thick.  Use a skinny whisk or spoon to stir, adding a bit more milk powder if too watery.  Add half and half to now have about one cup or a little more combined. Separately, place 1-2 Tbsp. cold water in a tiny bowl, and stir in kudzu root or arrowroot / gelatin / cornstarch until well dissolved, then whisk in to the milk + half and half mixture.  Set this aside. (See notes below)
  2. In a food processor or bowl, lightly whisk or pulse the eggs.
  3. Add squash, honey, vanilla and spices, and blend/whisk.
  4. Pour in milk mixture and thickener, and blend.
  5. Do a quick taste test.  Adjust to your taste for sweetness, and/or if you need a little more spice.
  6. Pour into the pie crust.  Place on a baking pan, and bake at 350º until the outer layer turns light brown, about 45 minutes.
  7. Carefully cover the crust and outer brown area with strips of foil.  (I started to add foil before it was brown enough, and accidentally messed up the pie, as you can see in the picture below.)  Bake another 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.









A little splotch on the left from trying to put foil around the edge a bit too soon.  Didn't ruin the flavor tho!


NOTES:

Kudzu root grows prolifically in the south and is used as a thickening agent, but it is also used medicinally in Chinese herbal medicine.  It's white and often found in chunks, usually square in shape mixed with more crumbled powder.  It's found in Asian markets or Asian sections of natural food stores.  We've had a jar around for a long time, so that is what I use.

Arrowroot would be the next best choice, followed by cornstarch.  Gelatin could also be used.  Each of these mixes best when stirred into a little cold water first.

The other alternative is to sub evaporated milk for my milk concoction if you have a can on hand.  Original recipe called for 1&1/2 cups.  My total milk was closer to 1/1/4 cups total.  You could use all half and half if you wanted.  Or use whole milk, adding the thickener.  Since these are less sweet than evaporated milk, I added a bit more sugar to compensate.

Plan ahead, and roast the squash in the morning or the night before so it's cool and ready to go.

Recipe may need to be adjusted to accommodate for the type of squash you use.  Some are denser, some more watery, some sweeter, some less so.  Add sweetness and spice to your taste preference.  You can use a bit more nutmeg if you don't have allspice on hand, or a tiny pinch of clove.

The topping shown in one of the above photos is also made with nonfat dry milk powder.  The 'whipped topping' recipe is on the back of the Kroger nonfat dry milk package, but basically blend 1/2 cup each of water and nonfat dry milk powder for several minutes.  Add about 2 Tbsp. sugar, and optional 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract.  Blend with a mixer at medium-high speed for 10+ minutes!  It will not look like it's getting thicker, but it will.  I blended for a while, then finally gave up, and voila, once I stopped, it thickened.  Though, the extra we saved in a jar did not remain thick the next day, just as a heads up.  Or, just use real whipped cream, or to keep it lower fat, top with nonfat or whole milk Greek yogurt.

As a reminder, while most people shun sugar, we skip the salt.  Sugar is required for life.  Your brain thrives on it.  All plant foods break down into glucose or sugar.  Fruit and honey are a mix of fructose and glucose, which is especially beneficial as some fructose in the diet will aid blood sugar metabolism.  Read more, here.

Food is meant to be sweet and enjoyable.  If you believe you lack the will to give up sugar, perhaps give up giving it up, and enjoy the sweet life!  Ditch the chemical additive of salt instead!  Read our other articles about salt, here, here and here, or watch my videos, here and here.   Look for Don's book on salt and our Meats & Sweets, second edition, sometime soon!


Amazing Healthy Squash Pie with Oat & Apple Cider Crust ~ so good, you'll want to eat it for breakfast!






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