Low Fat Beef Vegetable Pie Recipe
Pot pie is a satisfying meal with a long tradition. A staple since the Middle Ages, pot pies were first cooked in iron pans over open fires. Later, the idea travelled from Europe to America. The name "pot pie" first appeared in 1800-era cookbooks around the country.
In the 1950's, the first commercially made pot pie was made to heat up in home ovens. And today all sizes of pies are available in grocery stores that can be prepared in either the oven or the microwave.
Pot Pies are usually made with a combination of meat and vegetables. Sometimes a pie has both a top and lower crust, other times just a top, and still others with drops of biscuit dough on top. The crust itself tends to be flaky, like pastry.
Although buying a pie is the most convenient option, making your own isn't as hard as you might think. In under 2 hours you can create and bake a meal that will warm and nourish you and your family, for almost the same price as store-bought.
Making A Pot Pie Healthier
My recipe is an attempt to "lighten up" traditional pot pies a little, while still keeping the flavors rich. To illustrate how, I'm breaking down the elements and showing what substitutions help keep this low-fat and healthier overall.
Lots of recipes call for commercial biscuit dough. You need to read the label and find out the fat content per serving. For Instance, Pillsbury Flaky Layers Refrigerated dough has 4 gr fat per serving (3 biscuits). Plus, your crust will probably end up more dense and less flaky.
With four ingredients you can make your own crust. The trick is to replace more common but higher fat items, like regular Crisco or butter, for a margarine made from vegetable oils.
Note: Be aware of good vs bad fat. Butter contains saturated fat - 7 grams, when we should be eating only 10 gr a day - which can have a bad effect on the heart over time. Margarine is less offensive, but look for "trans-fat free or zero-trans fat" on the label. If that's not available, buy a tub of spread rather than the stick type, to reduce the trans fat content.
Since so many veggies are low in fat, you can try all sorts of combinations. Just be aware that some vegetables like cauliflower stay firmer during cooking, while others such as zucchini tend to soften up.
Note: You can use frozen vegetables, which would cut the prep time and doesn't effect the nutrition. Simply drop them in boiling water for about 30 seconds to thaw. I used fresh vegetables for mine because I prefer their flavor, and I had the extra time to spare that day.
Some Vegetables That Are Lower In Fat Per Serving
Traditional Pot Pie Veggies
Veggies Lowest in Fat
Other Low-Fat Veggies
Peas = .40 gr
Mushrooms = 0 gr
Cauliflower = .28 gr
Carrots = .24 gr
Sweet Potato = .05 gr
Zucchini, Summer or Winter squash = .32 gr
Potatoes = .10 gr
Asparagus = .12 gr
Green beans = .34 gr
Onions = .10 gr
Broccoli = .37 gr
This is where your choices can really impact the amount of fat in your pie. Here are some guidelines:
- Beef is called "lean" when it has less than 10 gr fat per serving, and "extra lean" when it has less than 5 gr.
- Organic or grass-fed beef is naturally lower in saturated fat and cholesterol because of the plant diet the cattle is fed.
- "Select" is leaner cut, but can be tougher. Loin or round cut is leaner - look for tenderloin, top round, eye round, top loin types.
- For ground beef, buy sirloin or round. The highest grade is 90-93% or "extra lean".
Note: Browning your beef in canola oil rather than butter will also lower the fat and cholesterol in the dish.
I wanted a creamy gravy for my pot pie, but I didn't want to add any unnecessary fat or calories. The flour, which doesn't have much fat (about .05 gr per serving), is the thickening agent.
I prefer using low-sodium beef bouillon rather than canned broth - I can add salt or other seasonings if they're needed, and since it's mixed with water, there's virtually no fat. Wheat flour took the place of white here, and low-fat milk (you could use skim) instead of whole or even cream.
Low Fat Beef Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe
It may look like there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but don't let that stop you. Read through them first, and you'll see that each one is pretty quick to do. And if you don't have time to do everything at once, do the prep a day or two before you want to bake and serve it. The time you devote to this will definitely be worth it!
- 2 1/4 cup combination of white and wheat flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) margarine or vegetable spread, chilled
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1/2 lb ground sirloin, lean or extra lean
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp burgundy or other red wine, (optional)
- 3/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1 cup beef broth, or boullion mixed with water
- 1 tbsp wheat flour
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 1 tsp celery seed
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Put the flour, salt and margarine into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until a ball of dough is formed. (By hand, sift the flour and salt, then cut the margarine in with knives until the pieces are pea-sized. Use your hands to kneed the dough into a ball. If the dough seems too dry, add water by teaspoonfuls.) Cover in plastic wrap and chill for 30-45 minutes.
- Brown the ground sirloin in the canola oil over medium heat. Turn down the heat and add the garlic and burgundy. Cook for another minute.
- Cook the vegetables separately in a pan of boiling water: broccoli for about 1 minute, the carrots for about 4 minutes, and the sweet potato for about 6 minutes. Drain them and let them cool.
- Pour the broth Into a saucepan, and turn the heat to medium. Stir in the flour with a whisk, making sure there are no lumps. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue stirring as the liquid heats up. Sprinkle in the celery seed and pepper. When it starts to boil, let it keep going for about 1 minute so it can thicken more. Then, remove it right away from the heat and stir it occasionally as it sits to prevent a film from forming on the top.
- Take the dough out of the fridge and separate into 2 equal pieces. Roll out each between two sheets of wax paper (lightly dust them with flour to prevent sticking). Fit the first crust into the bottom of the pie pan.
- Lay the vegetables then the meat into the crust. Top with the sauce. Fit the second crust over the top, with the ends reaching to the edges of the pan. Cut lines or shapes into the top crust to let steam escape as it cooks. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned on top and filling is bubbly.