Desserts/ Pie

Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar Banana Cream Pie

The hardest part of my quest to rid my diet of refined sugar happens when I start thinking about all the fabulously delicious deserts, chocolates, candies, cakes, pies, cookies, and other delectable sweets that I’ll never eat again.

Never. That’s a gruesome word to use when denying yourself food that tastes great, as sugary desserts surely do.

I’m no psychologist, but I’m pretty sure conquering an addiction is partly physical and partly psychological. I use sugary sweets as a reward, or to comfort myself when I’m feeling sad or bored or unhappy.  Eating a nice sweet thing makes me feel more in control. If someone or something made me sad or mad, I’ll feed myself a sugary treat to make myself feel better or to soothe my psychic wounds.

If only I could stop there, with a single cookie, one slice of pie, a couple cream-filled chocolates! But I can’t. My sugar addiction is also a physical craving. My body wants sugar!! And it won’t stop hounding me until it gets what it wants: A great big dose of delicious sugar!

It’s too much to imagine that I’ll never again taste those cute iced petit fours or confetti-colored macarons or peanut-butter filled chocolates. If I think in such absolute terms, I’ll give up. My quest to quit sugar will seem hopeless and futile. Once again, I’ll fall off the wagon.

That’s why I’m taking this challenge One Day at a Time. My goal for today is to avoid eating refined sugar for the rest of today! That’s it! Challenge over! For today.

But I can’t keep that up for too long. I’ll always crave sugar. What shall I  do about that?

I can’t say I have an answer, but after so many failures at kicking sugar out of my diet,  I’ve decided that part of my path away from sugar is to transform sweet foods I love but are harmful to my health–as refined sugar surely is–into sweet desserts I love that taste good and are relatively good for me.

Take banana cream pie. I haven’t made it for years because my children are all allergic to dairy, despite the fact that I love it!  I’ve always adored that fluffy mixture of bananas and cream layered together atop a pie crust.

But my kids are out of the house, and my husband and I have discovered we can tolerate some dairy. So, Banana cream pie, which relies on heavy cream, is back! True to my quest to avoid refined sugar, my latest version of this scrumptious pie contains a bit of natural sugar, but no refined sugar.

The sugar substitutes I’ve chosen to use in this recipe (adapted from The New York Times) are a monkfruit/erythritol mixture, stevia and xylitol, a sugar alcohol made from birch bark. They taste sweet, but they don’t taste exactly like refined sugar.

My nutritionist recommends monkfruit and stevia as sugar substitutes. She says xylitol can only be used in small amounts because it causes gastric upset, but that erythritol is an artificial sweetener I should avoid. (Please note: xylitol is extremely toxic to dogs. Don’t let them near it!)

I’ve done some research on erythritol, and while it may not be the healthiest sugar substitute, I don’t feel achy or bloated when I eat baked goods sweetened with some monkfruit/erythritol. I’m using it for now until I find a healthier sugar alternative. If you don’t trust erythritol, use other sugar substitutes like stevia, monkfruit and xylitol, as well as natural sweeteners like maple syrup, date paste or fruit purees to find the right mix of sweetness you desire.

Springhouse Turtle

Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar Banana Cream Pie

Bananas and whipped cream are a sweet combination in this low-sugar version of a classic pie made with a slightly sweet pudding and a crunchy hazelnut crust.


  • ⅓ cup oat milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 6 teaspoons tapioca starch
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup monkfruit/erythritol sweetener (or xylitol)
  • 1/4 teaspoon liquid stevia
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
  • ½ cup finely ground hazelnuts
  • 1 cup light gluten-free flour mix
  • 1/4 cup monkfruit/erythritol sweetener
  • 1/4 cup xylitol
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 6 tablespoons non-dairy butter, cold and cubed



First, make the custard:


In a small bowl, whisk together milk and 1 cup heavy cream


In a separate bowl, whisk 1/3 cup of this mixture with the cornstarch and egg yolk, and set aside


In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the remaining cream mixture with sweeteners and 1/8 teaspoon salt, bring to a simmer, and remove from heat


Whisk 1/3 of the hot sugar mixture into the egg yolk mixture, then pour that mixture back into the saucepan


Over medium heat, stir the cream mixture constantly, until the mixture thickens


Remove from heat, and whisk in 1 teaspoon vanilla


Pour into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate pudding for 3 hours


Next, make the crust:


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F


In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the sweeteners until mixed


Add hazelnuts and flour, and pulse a few times until mixed


Add butter chunks and pulse until mixture looks like pea-sized crumbs


Pour the mixture into the bottom of a lightly oiled 9-inch springform pan, and press into place


Bake for 15 minutes at 325 degrees F


Remove from oven and allow to cool


Now, put it all together:


When you are ready to serve the pie, place the remaining cup of whipping cream (use non-dairy whipping cream if you can find it) and 1 teaspoon vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer, and whip until it forms soft peaks. Set aside.


Slice the bananas into ¼-inch slices, and set aside


Remove the pudding from the fridge, and stir until smooth


Spread half the pudding onto the bottom of the cooled pie crust


Place the banana slices on top of the pudding, completely covering it


Spread the remaining pudding on top of the bananas


Spoon the whipped cream on top of the pie, garnish with extra banana slices, and put back into the fridge to chill for 20 minutes


Remove from fridge, carefully remove the outer ring of the pan, place on a serving dish, and serve immediately


Do not overcook the crust, or it will become very hard. Use a springform pan, or you won't be able to get the crust out of the pan.

Springhouse Turtle


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