Healthy Cranberry Cherry Pie with Walnut Crunch Topping Recipe
Cranberries are wonderful in baked goods.
Cranberries are a wonderful healthy treat. Their bitter taste means that they need to be used in recipes rather than eaten raw. Everyone is familiar with cranberry sauce, but have you ever thought of using cranberries in pies, breads. and puddings? Here is a recipe for an all-natural Cranberry-Cherry Pie with Walnut Crunch Topping.
This is a very healthy dessert because the three main ingredients, cranberries, sour cherries, and walnuts are all “super-foods."
What are super-foods?
“Super-foods” are foods that are high in anti-oxidants that are especially effective in inhibiting the oxidation that leads to free radicals. These free-radicals can cause cell-death and inflammation in the body. Inflammation leads to disease by reducing the functioning of the immune system.
Super-foods are also foods very high in vitamins and phytonutrients. Plants contain thousands of natural chemicals that, while not essential to life, help to keep the body working at its best.
Cranberries, cherries, and walnuts are all high in anti-oxidants and phytonutrients.
What are the health benefits of cranberries?
Cranberries are part of a group of foods called “super- foods” because they are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients.
Cranberries are a good source of important vitamins and minerals. They contain vitamins C, E, and K and the mineral manganese.
Cranberries may help reduce the risk of urinary tract infections.
Cranberries are a good source of fiber. High fiber intake is associated with lower risks for heart disease, stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, obesity and some gastrointestinal diseases. It also reduces cholesterol and can aid in weight loss.
A half-cup of cranberries contains only about 25 calories.
Cranberries keep very well in the freezer. Since cranberries are only available in the fall in the United States, be sure to pick up some extra bags to keep in the freezer until you are ready to use them in recipes. (If the cranberries are frozen, you can use them frozen. No need to defrost.)
What are the health benefits of cherries?
There are two primary varieties of cherries. Sweet cherries, like Bing cherries, are best eaten fresh and raw. They are in season in the United States only briefly, from May to June.
Sour cherries have a tart flavor and are best when cooked. They are available canned in syrup or in water. I’ll be using the ones canned in water for my recipe.
Cherries, and especially tart cherries, pack a lot of health benefits in one delicious little package.
Cherries are rich in anti-oxidants which help to reduce inflammation in the body. Less inflammation reduces the risk of cancer, arthritis, and gout. It can even help to reduce post- exercise muscle pain.
Cherries improve heart health and reduce the risk of stroke by activating PPAR (peroxisome proliferator activating receptors) in your body’s tissues. It reduces triglycerides and promotes healthy fat and glucose metabolism. The fat-burning potential of tart cherries can aid in weight loss and the reduction of belly-fat.
Tart cherries also contain melatonin which helps to regulate sleep. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body; cherries are the only natural source of melatonin.
Additionally, the fiber content off cherries aids in digestion which reduces the risk of colon cancer.
And last but not least, cherries are a good source of vitamin C and carotenoids (a precursor for vitamin A).
Sour cherries are also low in calories-- only about 25 calories per half-cup.
What are the health benefits of walnuts?
Walnuts may be nature’s most nearly perfect food,. Walnuts contain protein, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants (including some rarely found in other foods), and many vitamins and minerals. One-quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of plant-based omega-3 fats. Walnuts also have high amounts of copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin.
Walnuts may help reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. They can lower the risk from cardio-vascular disease and heart attacks. They help keep cholesterol at a healthy level. They help improve sperm health and brain health. They are also helpful in preventing diabetes and weight gain.
Even though a quarter cup of walnuts contains close to 200 calories, walnuts should be part of a healthy diet because of their amazing health benefits.
I buy shelled walnuts in bulk at Costco. I fill a small jar with walnuts and keep the jar in the refrigerator. The jar makes it handy to grab a few walnuts to add to cooked oatmeal, yogurt, salads, etc. or just to eat out of hand for a snack. I keep the remainder in the freezer so the nuts won’t go rancid. I fill my jar from my freezer stash as needed.
Cranberry Cherry Pie Recipe
- 1 prepared pie crust
- 2 cups raw cranberries, ((Fresh or frozen)
- 1 14 to 15-ounce can of tart (sour) cherries, (Packed in water)
- ¼ cup honey
- 1 TBS cornstarch
The Cranberry Cherry Pie Filling PreparationClick thumbnail to view full-size
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Drain the cherries, reserving the liquid. Rinse the cranberries and remove any that have gone soft.
- Put the drained cherries, the cranberries, and the honey into a pot.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low. Stir occasionally. Let it boil slowly until the cranberries have burst. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Measure out a half cup of the cherry liquid. (Add water if you have less than a half cup.) Add the cornstarch into the liquid and stir until it is dissolved. Pour this liquid into the cooked cranberry-cherry mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon constantly until the mixture turns bright red and is thickened. When it turns bright red, it is done. Remove from the heat.
- Put the bottom pie crust into a 9 inch pie-shell. Pour the thickened cranberry-cherry mixture into the pie shell.
- Top with the walnut-crumb topping. (See recipe below). Place one spoonful of the mixture at a time on top of the filling. Spread with the back of a spoon so the filling is evenly covered. don't worry about small gaps in the topping. The topping will spread a little as it bakes.
- Bake in 375 degree oven until the top is golden brown, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Let the pie cool thoroughly on a wire rack before serving.
The Walnut Crunch Topping PreparationClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Prepare the Crumb Topping
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup rolled oats
½ cup flour (white or whole wheat)
¼ cup honey
½ cup chopped walnuts
Mix all the ingredients together in a medium sized bowl until well blended. The mixture will be sticky. Add a little extra honey if needed.
Have a slice for breakfast ...
It has oatmeal in it--that makes it breakfast food.
I "chop" the walnuts by breaking them into small pieces with my hands.
If you want a sweeter pie, add a little more honey to the filling--an extra tablespoon or two.
If I am using a prepared pie crust that is sold in the flimsy tin pin pans, I place the tin pie pan inside a studier glass or metal pan. This make the pie pan easier to handle.
I usually place a foil-lined cookie sheet in the oven on the rack below the pie plate to catch any of the filling that my boil over.
For the bottom pie crust you can bake your own or use a pre-made crust from the supermarket. If you buy a pre-made crust search for one that does not contain hydrogenated oil.
Serve with a spritz of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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Variations Using Canned Cranberry Sauce or All Cherries
If you do not have fresh (or frozen) whole cranberries, you can substitute one 14-ounce can of whole berry cranberry sauce for the fresh cranberries or use two cans of water-packed cherries. (Drain the cherries and reserve the liquid.) Place the canned fruit in a pot with 1/4 cup honey and 1/4 cup of the reserved cherry liquid. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the fruit comes to a full boil, dissolve 1 TBS cornstarch in 1/4 cup of the reserved cherry liquid. Add the cornstarch mixture to the boiling fruit, and stir constantly until the mixture turns bright red and is thickened. Remove from the heat and pour the thickened pie filling into the bottom crust. Cover with the Walnut Crunch Topping. Bake at 375 degree oven until the topping is browned.
If you have leftover cherry liquid, add it to iced tea to flavor the tea.
Variation Using Frozen Cherries
Instead of canned cherries, use two cups of frozen cherries. Use 1/4 cup of cold water instead of the canned cherry liquid.
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© 2014 Catherine Giordano