Before I moved to the UK, I’d never heard of a mince pie. It took me years to find out what it was and, when I did, I didn’t want to eat one. Why not? Because I knew they contained raisins (or sultanas) and I openly discriminate against raisins (and sultanas). Come Christmas every year, I’d just walk past them in the supermarket, overlook them at Christmas parties, and politely say “no thank you” when offered one by friends.
But then, one day, I was forced to find out what the fuss was all about and my search for a healthy mince pie began. All because of my friend Jane….
I went to meet Jane for coffee one day in early December of 2010. I got there early so I got us a table by the window where I looked out for her. After a few minutes, I saw Jane cross the street towards the Cafe and she looked, I won’t say crazed… she looked as if she’d been struck down by a severe case of euphoria.
“Whoa, Jane! What is UP? You look completely ecstatic! What’s going on???” I asked her expecting some major news and instead I got, “Mince pies!”
I thought she was joking (because, come on) so I asked her again, “no, really, what’s up?” and once again she said, “mince pies” with a HUGE grin plastered on her face.
So we got to talking and I found out that what was up was that that her grandma who “makes the best mince pies in the world!” had just sent her a box of homemade mince pies.
I didn’t get it. I mean, I got the food-borne excitement, I just didn’t get it in the context of… mince pies – a food containing raisins! So I decided to come clean and tell her that I’d actually never had mince pie before. I told her that they don’t really do it for me – the raisins, you know… And what happened next I’ll seriously never forget:
That’s the day I first tried a mince pie and man oh man! It was delicious!!!!! You get this sweet pie filled with all kinds of spicy fruity nuttyness and then a subtle (or, in the case of her grandma’s, a not so subtle) punch of brandy. It was like actually EATING Christmas!
But there was down side to them – their ingredients. I mean, mince pies are basically just refined carbs (lots of sugar) and vegetable fats; they’re also very low in protein. Sure, eating a couple is fine, why not, but eating an entire box-ful of them (which is what Jane seemed to be set on doing) seemed a bit… much.
So I told Jane I’d make a healthy version of them and she laughed. She actually called me a ‘nutter’ and said it’d be impossible.
So I created a healthy mince pie recipe to try to prove her wrong in 2010 but Jane didn’t think it was up to scratch (“ha, told ya”).
I then tried another recipe one in 2011 and, while better than the last, she still thought something was amiss, “Anna, this may just be a losing battle, you know?”
But a losing battle it was NOT! Because in 2012 I CRACKED IT! I gave her these mince pies and oy oy oy, she loved them and I did too. They’re not only healthier than traditional mince pies, they’re also just as tasty! Or, in my humble opinion tastiER because 1. they have a nuttier texture, 2. they’re richer in flavor and 3. they have no raisins (or sultanas) 😉 Sure, you can make them with raisins if you want to; I just didn’t because, well… you know why.