The Sneaky Way Padma Lakshmi Makes Her Berry Cream Pie Healthier

There are countless varieties of pie out there. Some involve cooking various fruits down until you have a gooey, decadent mixture bursting with fresh, fruity flavors. Others involve a custard or cream base of some sorts, incorporating ingredients such as chocolate to craft a rich chocolate cream pie or citrus flavors such as key lime to create key lime pie, the perfect blend of tart and creamy.

However, if you've always steered clear of cream-based pies because of how much fat was in the creamy filling, you might want to check out Padma Lakshmi's simple swap, which transforms a berry pie into a better-for-you dessert. Plus, it's not a substitution that requires a ton of culinary prowess or skill as a baker — in fact, the recipe that Lakshmi shared on her Substack involves no cooking at all. She even gives the option to either buy a store-bought graham cracker crust or make one yourself, depending on your level of skill in the kitchen.

The one thing to note is that, while the recipe doesn't require cooking, it does require a fair bit of time. It firms up by chilling in the freezer, and she suggests giving the pie about 8 hours minimum (or ideally allowing it to freeze overnight), so you'll want to factor that into your plans.

Lakshmi's simple swap

Rather than using custard, whipping cream, or another more decadent filling crafted from high-fat ingredients, Padma Lakshmi's Substack pie recipe uses a type of yogurt as the filling, a bottled lassi mixture. It's worth noting that Lakshmi recommends a particular type and brand of yogurt — the DAH! Brand strawberry lassi — because of the thick texture that particular product has. However, if you don't happen to have that brand in your local grocery store or would simply rather use up the yogurt you have than buy a fresh bottle of lassi, you just need to note the consistency of the product you're planning to use.

Lakshmi's pie recipe involves simply filling the graham cracker crust with the yogurt mixture — there are no additions to thicken it up in any way. So, you'll want to test a dollop of whatever yogurt you're thinking of using to see how thick it is. If it seems thick enough to spread and hold its shape a bit so that the berries you use atop the yogurt don't immediately sink into it, you should be good to go. 

The super simple recipe could even be adapted for any dietary restrictions — you could presumably use vegan butter in the crust and a plant-based yogurt to make a dairy-free version. Those looking to amp up the health factor may want to try out Greek yogurt to deliver an extra boost of protein as well.