Recipe Makeover: How to Make a Heart-Healthy Pie Crust


Several of you have asked about heart-healthy and gluten free recipes. As I was de-stressing this past weekend, I decided to make a homemade, heart-healthy pie crust that’s gluten free, too.

Besides embracing many of the tactics in my reducing stress blog post, I also de-stress by cooking or baking. I’ve done this since I was nine years old when I started making recipes from my mom’s Betty Crocker cookbook. Later, when I majored in Nutrition for undergraduate studies, I took several food labs that focused on food science. The net result is that I’m always experimenting in the kitchen with freestyle cooking or recipe makeovers. 

The Heart-Healthy Pie Crust Makeover

Here’s a confession: I’ve never been a great at making pie crusts. I still remember family jokes about needing an axe to cut my brick-like homemade pie crust. 

Fast forward to today, and I’ve solved that problem. There is no issue with overmixing or overworking the dough because this pie crust makeover doesn’t use traditional ingredients, and it doesn’t require a rolling pin. Or a pastry board. Or any other trick that you’ve learned along the way.

Instead of white flour, butter, and/or lard, I use heart-healthy ingredients: nuts, oats, extra virgin olive oil, and dates.

After mixing all the ingredients together, just place the dough in your glass pie plate, and use your hands to form the crust all around. If you were into playdough as a child, you’ll love this.

Here’s the equipment you’ll need:

  • 14-cup food processor
  • 9.5” glass (Pyrex®) pie plate. Mine looks like this. I’ve experimented with several different pie plates and glass is the winner. It’s sturdy, it bakes evenly, and I’ve never had an issue with a soggy or sticky crust.
  • Pie crust shield – protects the outer edge of the crust from getting too brown or from burning. I use one that looks like this. An alternative to buying a pie crust shield is to create your own from aluminum foil like this.

Ingredients for a Heart-Healthy Pie Crust

  • 1 ¾ cup pecans
  • 1 ¾ cup organic oats (not instant oats, gluten free – if needed)
  • Medjool dates, medium to large size (don’t use Neglet Noor dates)*
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, good quality
  • ¼ cup golden flaxseed meal
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

*Purchase fresh, good quality Medjool dates. They are naturally sweet, and a good source of fiber, healthy nutrients, and antioxidants that may protect your heart.


Rinse the dates, pat dry, and remove the pits. Blend the pitted dates in the food processor to form a date paste.

Next, add the pecans and oats to the food processor. Mix/process all together. If necessary, turn off the processor and remove the plug. Use a spatula to unstick the dates from the side of the food processor.

Add the flaxseed meal and salt. Mix all together.

Add the oil, and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix to form a dough. See picture above.

Place the dough in your glass pie plate.

Using your hands, evenly distribute the dough, making sure to move the dough up the sides of the glass plate. 

That’s it. You don’t need to prebake. This crust works well with pies that have a creamy filling like pumpkin or chocolate, or one-crust fruit pies like blueberry or strawberry.

Use a pie crust shield to protect the visible crust from getting too brown, especially if your pie needs to bake for more than 30 minutes.

The pie pictured below baked for 33 minutes without a pie shield; the edges definitely got a bit too brown.

Happy baking! Feel free to share this heart-healthy pie crust recipe with your friends and family.

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