I’m a huge “from scratch” person, and if I see a recipe that calls for something bought pre-fab, I usually figure out if I can do it cheaper and more nutritiously at home. Graham cracker crusts for pies was one of those easy-t0-do at home (for a lot less $) things that I always made from scratch, using my Betty Crocker cookbook recipe. I recently came across a whole grain, healthy substitute for graham cracker pie crusts, and I was thrilled with how rich and delicious this walnut oat pie crust tasted. The fact that it is also a gluten-free pie crust is a huge bonus.
Between the whole grain oats, omega-3 packed walnuts, and real butter, there’s got to be a complete protein in this thing as well. Nice! Plus you get to avoid the trans fat that is almost always in graham crackers (recently replaced by the likely equally evil interesterified fat).
Healthy Walnuts in a Gluten-Free Pie Crust
Walnuts are a Super Food, for good reason: just an ounce (about a handful) if walnuts have as much omega-3 fat as 3.5 ounces of salmon. (Source: WebMD) That’s a power-packed handful of nuts! They are also a great source of antioxidants (cancer-fighters). See World’s Healthiest Foods for much more information. You can get walnuts for a great price at Costco. It’s on my real food list almost every time I go.
- 1⅓ cups old-fashioned or quick oats (not instant)
- 1 cup diced walnuts
- 6 Tbs melted unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spread oats in a shallow layer in an ungreased round cake pan.
- Spread nuts in a shallow layer in another ungreased cake pan.
- Bake the nuts until they smell toasty and are beginning to brown, about 8 minutes.
- Bake the oats until they’re starting to brown, 15-18 minutes.
- Watch both carefully; they go from brown to burned quickly.
- Remove them from the oven and transfer to a food processor.
- Add the butter, sugar and salt.
- Process until the oats and nuts are finely ground and the mixture is cohesive.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor and press it into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch regular (not deep-dish) pie pan that’s at least 1 ¼ inches deep.
- Bake the crust until it’s just barely beginning to brown, 14 minutes. Remove it from the oven and set it on a rack to cool.
Now you can fill the crust with any pie that calls for a storebought graham cracker crust. I use this gluten-free pie crust for my Healthy Pumpkin Pie recipe, but you could use it for any cheesecake, pudding style pie, etc.
Do keep walnuts in your freezer. Because of all those great fats, they tend to go rancid faster than other nuts. You can stock up when they’re on sale (Christmastime is a good time to watch for super sales!), and can even chop a whole pound in your blender/food processor and store them in the freezer, ready to be put into quick breads, cookies and muffins.
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