Monday, January 5, 2015

Healthier Banana Cream Pie

This is the time of year when people often ask me about healthier dessert recipes. Generally, I'm not a fan of cutting down on taste to cut down on calories. I'd rather have a smaller portion of something really good than a whole lot of diet brownies.

This banana cream pie recipe by Ellie Krieger, however, is actually quite good and not so bad for you. Her secret is that she loads up on the bananas and cuts down on the "cream" filling, which uses low fat milk.

I went a couple of steps further, and used half low fat milk and half skim, plus low-fat graham crackers for the crust. Also, rather than use whipping cream, I simply topped my pie with non-fat whipped topping out of a can.

Hey, this is January.  I'm trying to shed calories here every which way I can!

You can make the pie in a standard 9-inch pie tin, or as four mini pies in smaller tart shells, though you may find as I did that you'll need extra graham cracker crust for the smaller but cuter shells.

Either way, this is a fine pie that tastes pretty good for something that I'd usually make with heavy cream and lots of butter...

Healthier Banana Cream Pie
(adapted from Ellie Krieger)

Note:  Use 15 graham crackers and 3 tablespoons of butter to make the crust for mini tart shells.


Cooking spray
12 low-fat graham cracker squares (6 full sheets)
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons boiling water
1/3 cup, plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup 1 percent low fat milk
3/4 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 cups sliced banana (3 medium bananas)
1 can non-fat whipped topping


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. In a food processor, process graham crackers until finely ground. Add butter and 1 tablespoon of water, and process until the crumb clumps together. Press crumb mixture into bottom of pie plate and about 1/2-inch up the sides. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, then let cool.

In the meantime, make the filling. Put the gelatin in a small bowl; add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved. In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/3 cup of sugar and the flour. In a medium bowl lightly beat the milk and eggs together. Add the egg and milk mixture to the saucepan and whisk so the flour and sugar dissolve. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. Stir in the vanilla extract and gelatin. Set aside to cool slightly.

Arrange the sliced bananas on the graham cracker crust and pour the pudding on top. Place in the refrigerator until the pudding has set, about 3 hours.

Decorate your pie with whipped topping.