When I take into consideration pie, I consider Charlie Chaplin and the custard pie fights of silent motion pictures. I recall the nursery rhyme about 4 and twenty blackbirds. And after all the expression “American as apple pie.” If you have been extra into math than I used to be, the phrase may additionally evoke the method for the circumference of a circle. And should you have been a rock and curler, you is perhaps buzzing a refrain about driving your Chevy to the levee.

But two concepts that don’t sometimes go along with pie are “plant-based” and “healthy.” In this text, I hope to vary that.

The History of Pie

classic american apple pie slice on plate

Most cultures have some model of a pie, whether or not candy or savory. That is that if we settle for a really broad definition of pie: a dish consisting of a crust with filling that’s normally baked. Historically, pies have been a far cry from what we consider at present. In historic instances, pie crusts or shells have been typically only a vessel to maintain the filling from working and weren’t meant to be eaten. According to Janet Clarkson, who wrote a whole guide concerning the historical past of pies, these shells have been referred to as “coffins.” Not that the contents have been deceased (though some have been), or that the contents would render you deceased (though I’m certain that occurred as effectively). The phrase coffin initially referred to any form of field or basket.

It’s arduous to know for certain who baked the primary pie (dough and spherical baking dishes aren’t precisely probably the most enduring archeological artifacts). But there’s some consensus that two early pie-making civilizations included the traditional Egyptians and Greeks. Both had the expertise, they usually had the grains. As far again as 6000 BCE, a traveler to the Nile delta might need been supplied a pie with a crust manufactured from floor oat, barley, and rye, full of honey, and baked over sizzling coals.

The expression “as American as apple pie” shouldn’t idiot you into pondering Americans invented it, any greater than French fries or hamburgers are a product of Parisian and German culinary innovation, respectively. The British, together with many others, had found the enjoyment of baking apples in crusts lengthy earlier than America was the apple of the world’s eye. And apple strudel, which definitely matches the definition of a filling baked in a crust or shell, predates the American expertise by a minimum of a century.

Pie Filling from the 15th Century

Oh, and that tune concerning the blackbirds? That wasn’t made up, I’m sorry to say. The European pie custom of the center ages basically consisted of throwing as many lifeless animals as doable right into a single crust. The origin of the phrase “pie” itself testifies to this custom, referencing the habits of the magpie, a chook that constructed its nest from odds and ends. Believe it or not, one 15th century pie recipe included the next components: “beef, beef suet, capons, hens, both mallard and teal ducks, rabbits, woodcocks, and large birds such as herons and storks, plus beef marrow, hard-cooked egg yolks, dates, raisins, and prunes.” I guarantee you that we are going to not be sharing a wholesome plant-based model of this pie under.

For very particular events, say “to set before a king,” medieval cooks invented the “animated pie,” with reside animals like birds, frogs, rabbits, and turtles escaping from the crust as soon as it was minimize open. At a minimum of one celebration held by Britain’s King Charles I, a chilly pie was baked large enough to cover the dwarf Jeffrey Hudson, who emerged from the crust wearing a miniature go well with of armor and bowed to the queen.

Looking again on what I’ve simply written, I’m realizing that this introduction isn’t precisely an argument for the inclusion of pies in a wholesome, moral, and sustainable plant-based eating regimen.

But wholesome pie recipes do exist. These days, it’s simpler than ever to create scrumptious candy or savory pies utilizing entire meals, plant-based components. And should you like, you can also make them gluten-free, too!

Why Eat Pies?

Healthy pie recipes - Man eating savory pie slice

Pies are nice methods to make use of up components that may not be all that thrilling on their very own. That container of leftover lentils within the fridge, these veggies within the crisper drawer which have seen higher days, and even fruit that’s quick approaching the twilight of its life may be stretched right into a full meal or a nutrient-packed dessert by the magic of pies.

Pies are nice for a crowd or bigger households, as they’re typically fairly filling. So in case you have multitudes to feed, pies may simply do the trick.

At least within the US, we affiliate pies with holidays. For instance, pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, apple pie for July 4th, and lemon meringue pie on — I’m not making this up — National Lemon Meringue Pie Day (August 15).  So they provide many alternatives to remodel conventional meals into more healthy variations. Pie is probably the last word consolation meals, so even should you pass over problematic components, your diversifications can sometimes nonetheless make individuals blissful.

Because we’re conditioned to love pies, they’re a good way to experiment with a meals you aren’t acquainted with or are much less more likely to attempt in one other kind. Let’s say you belong to a CSA (neighborhood assist agriculture) or co-op, and you find yourself with a dozen persimmons, a pound of rhubarb, or a large inexperienced zucchini. Any of these components might fill a pie crust and offer you an entire new expertise of that meals.

Pies don’t simply are available 10” rounds both. You also can bake “hand pies” for small meals and snacks. Because they’re moveable, you possibly can brown bag them for lunch, or take them on picnics and street journeys. Many culinary traditions have their signature model of a hand pie: empanadas and samosas are two well-known and well-loved examples.

And as a result of pies “feel” decadent, you may get away with stuffing them with wholesome components and get no (or only a few) complaints from the choosy eaters in your life.

Types of Pies

person pulling pie out of oven

Let’s divide the world of pies into two major classes: savory and candy. Savory pies are the meals, and candy ones are the desserts.

Savory Pies

Pot pies historically function meat and greens in a deep dish, lined with a domed crust. Many pot pie recipes omit the underside crust, so the dish is mostly a baked stew with an edible lid. The two commonest varieties are hen and beef pot pies, which give a jumping-off level for creating wholesome, plant-based options.

Shepherd’s pies have traditionally consisted of a decrease layer of floor meat lined with a mashed potato crust. As the identify implies, the most typical meat was lamb or mutton. Similar pies made with beef have been known as “cottage pies.”

Hand pies are small, particular person servings, sometimes with the filling utterly enclosed inside a crust. In addition to the empanadas and samosas already talked about, this class contains Cornish pasties, Jamaican patties, and even Italian calzones. They may be eaten sizzling or chilly, which makes them good moveable selections.

Most pies are made with single-layer crusts, both mushy or arduous, flaky or strong. Another class makes use of phyllo dough, which is available in very skinny layers rolled collectively (assume spanokopita). Turkish pies known as borek use phyllo dough to surround (sometimes) meat, cheese, and greens.

Sweet Pies

If we have been to word-associate about pie, we’d in all probability start with fruit pies. In the US, apple pie is the default. But, after all, many sorts of fruits are completely fabulous in pies. Strawberry-rhubarb is a superb mixture of candy and tart; blueberry pies are unbelievable, and cherry and peach are not any slouches both. Fruit pies can have strong crusts, or in case you have a while in your arms, and also you’re trying to impress, you possibly can high your fruit pie with a lattice crust.

Other sorts of candy pies embody galettes, tarts, mousse pies, custard pies, meringue pies, and there are additionally candy veggie pies that use pumpkin, candy potato, or different flavorful vegetable-based fillings.

How to Make Pies Plant-Based and Healthier

Healthy pie recipes include this carrot and pumpkin pie

We’ve checked out some fairly tempting pies thus far, besides that the majority of them have contained components you could wish to decrease or eradicate out of your eating regimen. So have I simply been teasing you with forbidden fruit (pies), or can we make these pies plant-based and wholesome? I feel the reply…


You can substitute some or all the refined sugar in a pie recipe with date paste, fruit, or a wide range of more healthy sweeteners.


Pie crusts sometimes require flour. You can select more healthy flours than the default white-bleached selection, resembling 100% entire wheat flour, chickpea flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour, oat flour, or rice flour. There are additionally a number of types of gluten-free flour mixes accessible in lots of supermarkets and well being meals shops nowadays.

The uncooked vegan neighborhood has given us uncooked meals pie crusts, which have the added benefit of not needing to be baked, so we will have our pie and eat it shortly. Raw meals crusts sometimes embody floor nuts or seeds, and dates or different candy dried fruits.

And, as we’ve seen, some so-called pies don’t have crusts in any respect. Just use a pie plate, and you’ll have the spirit and the form of the pie with out the dough. Of course, you’ll want the precise components so all the pieces holds collectively.


There are a number of methods to exchange eggs in a pie recipe, relying on the operate of the eggs. Flax meal and water (also called “flax eggs”) can bind components collectively in a pastry or quiche. The water leftover from canned or cooked chickpeas, known as aquafaba, makes a wonderful meringue base. And mushy or silken tofu can typically substitute eggs in quiches and frittatas.

It’s simply as straightforward to dive into the savory world of meat pies by substituting beans and different legumes, mushrooms, and veggies like eggplant that may approximate the mouthfeel of meat. And should you’re cooking for individuals who aren’t actually into veggies but, you possibly can assist them transition with plant-based meat analogues, which have gotten extra practical by the day.

You also can substitute cheese with tofu, plant-based cheese analogues (use these sparingly as a result of they sometimes include plenty of processed components and typically even fractionated oils), or your personal do-it-yourself nut cheese.

6 Scrumptious & Healthy Pie Recipes

Now it’s time to attempt your hand at pie-making. Our wholesome pie recipes are various and completely scrumptious. And, with all the variability, there’s one thing for nearly everybody. We’re together with an excellent six — three candy and three savory — simply to make certain we’re not taking part in favorites.

1. Raw Chocolate Mousse Pie

raw chocolate mousse pie on plate

Creamy, chocolatey, and luscious, but with out flour or oil — is that this decadent pie for actual? Yes, chocolate goals do come true! Plant-based components like nuts and avocado create a wealthy dessert that’s full of dietary goodness. This pie is unquestionably a crowd-pleaser, even crowds that “don’t” eat crops!

2. Avocado Key Lime Pie

avocado key lime pie

Do of a yummy dessert that offers you 13 grams of fiber per serving? Now you do — meet Avocado Key Lime Pie! There’s a number of fiber hidden in avocados, in addition to quite a few vitamins like folate, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, B nutritional vitamins — and extra! Combined with the nuts and dates, that is one nutrient-dense and fiber-licious finish to your meal!

three. Sweet Potato Pie

sweet potato pie slice on plate

Feel all the great vibes and heat power of autumn with every chunk of this candy potato pie. Creamy and barely candy, candy potatoes supply plentiful fiber and vitamin A, serving to your physique stay wholesome throughout the cooler months, on the holidays, or anytime you wish to get pleasure from it.

four. Mushroom and Kale Pot Pie

mushroom and kale pot pie slice on plate - healthy pie recipes

How can a pie be so wholesome but really feel so indulgent? Mushroom and Kale Pot Pie has all the weather to qualify as each a well being meals and a consolation meals. Immune-supporting mushrooms, nutrient-dense kale, and pathogen-fighting aromatics convey an irresistible mixture of taste, textures, and vitamin to this tasty pie.

5. Cauliflower and Chickpea Samosas

cauliflower and chickpea samosas on serving plate with sauce

Have enjoyable within the kitchen whereas making our tackle a restaurant-style Indian favourite — Cauliflower and Chickpea Samosas. Cauliflower is added for vitamin C, chickpeas are added for plant-powered protein, and whole-wheat flour is a wealthy supply of fiber (you can too go along with a gluten-free flour should you want). Go all in and make your personal dough or buy natural entire grain dough on the retailer to maintain it easier.

6. Veggie Quiche

veggie quiche slice on plate - healthy pie recipes

Once the dough is made, this quiche recipe comes collectively shortly. To make it even simpler, prep the dough and the filling forward of time and retailer them within the fridge till you’re able to impress with a easy and stylish breakfast (or dinner!). Alternatively, buy a 9-inch pie shell and omit the dough-making course of altogether!

One Last Word About Healthy Pies

Although at first look it might not look like pies are a well being meals, there are many methods to regulate them to make them wholesome and plant-based. Whether candy or savory, pies is usually a enjoyable and scrumptious approach to share meals with family members and get extra vegetables and fruit into your eating regimen — with out relying on animal merchandise and unhealthy components.

Tell us within the feedback:

  • What’s your favourite pie of all time? Is there a approach to make it wholesome and plant-based?
  • Is there a sort of pie you’re wanting ahead to attempting now?
  • What’s one sort of pie you possibly can add to your common meal rotation?

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