Guide To Ingredients

Health begins within. All of the ingredients for Master Pie Making are carefully chosen with the intention to maintain balance in our body, our mind, and our planet.  

We buy locally when possible. While modern technology helps us connect with people and places around the globe, small businesses and farms keep us rooted to our neighbors. There are often passionate people that are cultivating the ingredients we need nearby. 


Can Sugar Be Good For You?

The search for this answer began years ago when I was first experimenting with pie.

I was living on an organic apple orchard when I began to conduct some research into the history of adding sugar to the foods we make. I was interested in making wholesome pie  that was good for you. 

Most of us are aware of the benefits that berries and fruits contain, and yes they contain natural sugar too. So what has happened? Why have we created a refined product called table sugar that has little to no nutritional value? And why do we then add large amounts of this that only mask the fruits flavor?

The only real reason I could find for culinary purposes is that the product is white (won’t discolor food) and it assimilates easily. In addition if you are using ingredients that lack quality I guess you can trick the consumer by adding large amounts of white sugar.

So if we can get around these reasons, could we use a less refined product? The answer is an awesome YES!!


And it’s name is: Dehydrated Whole Sugar Cane


* 500-1000 times more Potassium than white sugar

* 10 times more Calcium than white sugar

* 75 times more Phosphorus and Magnesium than white sugar



Dehydrated Whole Sugar Cane contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and niacin which are all eliminated from white sugar.

Now it is important that you understand that these nutritional facts ONLY pertain to the specific Dehydrated Whole Sugar Cane. And it is ONLY as good as the manufacturer. Some companies are putting out inferior products. Here is a list of sugars to avoid using muscavado, turbinado, demarara, evaporated cane juice, evaporated cane sugar, sugar in the raw, and organic raw sugar. They are NOT Dehydrated Whole Sugar Cane.

There are United States companies that are selling and labeling ‘Raw’ Sugar and misleading the public. 

Two manufactures I use and that are trusted are Whole Cane Sugar by Rapunzel, the other is Organic Sucanat by Wholesome Sweeteners

I use raw unfiltered honey for recipes that discoloring is an issue.   

It is important to keep in mind that there is still a limit to how much sugar to intake. According to Dr. Nancy Appleton, PhD and author, in her extensive research on sugar,  she uncovered that for healthy individuals the threshold of added sugar is two teaspoons at one time, totaling no more than two tablespoons a day.

I took all this information into consideration when I was developing my recipes for Passionate For Pies. I decided to use a whole cane sugar but add as little as possible. The goal was to work with the natural flavors present in the fruit. I would pick fruit that had qualities that would lend itself to baking. I likened it to how wine makers choose grapes. Many lifeless pies use white sugar and seasonings to mask that the fruit has no true flavor.

To my amazement many customers were unaware of how much less sugar we were using. All they knew was that they LOVED THE PIE!!!

In the chart below, I display the sugar amounts of both Master Pie Making Wild Blueberry Pie Recipe and Williams Sonoma Blueberry Pie Recipe. Ounce for ounce, this concludes that Williams-Sonoma pie has 3X MORE sugar than recommended by Dr. Appleton for a healthy individual per serving, per day. This is just one example of how overly sugared most sweet recipes are whether at the grocery store or your local bakery. 


Comparison of Blueberry Pie Recipes -     

Recommended healthy single serving amount of sugar * (2 teaspoons)


Master Pie Making uses 2 teaspoons of whole sugar cane per slice. This does not exceed recommendations. Using wild blueberries helps to naturally increase the sugar content because they are more flavorful and sweeter. 


Williams-Sonoma uses over 6 teaspoons of white sugar per slice of pie. That is MORE THAN 3 TIMES recommendation.

100 years ago the average person consumed 4 pounds of added sugar a year. Now that number has grown to 150 pounds a year, that includes other sugars like high fructose corn syrup (that is linked to possible causing the body to become insulin resistance and leading to diabetes).

My pies average about 1/4 cup of whole cane sugar per pie, that is the same amount of sugar that is in most 12oz cans of soda. Think about that, you would have to eat an entire pie to equal one can of soda, and the sugar I use has all the nutrient benefits we talked about earlier.

Well I hope that helps explain why I am passionate about what type of sugar is used and how much.

All-Purpose Unbleached Flour

Unbleached All Purpose flour creates a delicious flaky crust that is easy to work with for the novice and master pie maker. Freshness is key. Look for local flour at your grocery store. Flour sold in the bulk section may be the next best option. Bulk not only saves money, it is usually fresher than pre-packaged flour. When I purchase pre-packaged, I usually choose Organic.

Bob’s Red Mill Organic All Purpose:


Why Butter?

Butter is the simple secret to our outstanding flaky crust. And it tastes just amazing! Butter is a great source of Vitamin A that is easily absorbed by the body. Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from toxins. It is also a great source of Vitamins D, E, & K.

For centuries, butter has been used to make high quality pastry. Butter folded into the dough forms air pockets into the heated pastry. This gives the pie crust a fluffy texture and undeniable flavor. 

Dr Weston Price, a nutrition pioneer and dentist, traveled and studied non-industrialized people starting in the 1930’s. His research determined that to optimize perfect health generation after generation, people need the consumption of vital fat-soluble activators found only in animal fat. So fats like butter, ensure the proper metabolization of fat soluble vitamins and nutrients naturally present in whole foods.

Consequently, an American scientist by the name of Ancel Keys was proposing his ‘diet-heart hypothesis’ that saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet were to blame for coronary heart disease. It was from his minimal studies that he hypothesized that a Mediterranean-style diet low in animal fat protected against heart disease. Even though    many other scientists at the time failed to back up Key’s hypothesis, due to its many flaws, the general public was fed this ‘new’ information. In 1956, the American Heart Association backed Keys hypothesis by appearing on television to inform that a diet which included large amounts of animal fats would lead to coronary heart disease.

While America drastically reduced their intake of these natural animal fats, this gave way for a fast growing processed food industry. Butter was replaced with hydrogenated oils, i.e. trans fat. The manufacturers of margarine took hold of this ‘new claim’ and actively began marketing to mothers that margarine was the healthier alternative for their kids. 

The health results were that Americans' average saturated fat intake dropped considerably, but rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease had increased.  The negative results of these artificial trans fats eventually brought positive attention back to butter.  Sally Fallon, nutritionist and author, formalized Price’s research concluding that animal fats in the human diet are important to maintain optimum health. In addition, Dr Jeff Volek, R.D. published in Men’s Health Magazine, “saturated fat, like that in butter, is necessary in order to help your body absorb many of the healthy nutrients found in vegetables...there's no scientific reason that natural foods containing saturated fat...shouldn't be part of a healthy diet."

 This came more than 50 years after Price’s first claim.


Benefits of Butter:

  • The most valuable source of Vitamin A our body gets. It is vital for our body to absorb nutrients and vitamins from certain foods.
  • Great source of Vitamins D, K, and E. Vitamin D found in butter is essential to absorption of calcium.
  • A great source of minerals selenium, manganese, zinc, and copper. 
  • Also contains iodine. Important to healthy thyroid and adrenal functioning.  
  • Contains healthy fatty acids. Supports your immune system and boosts metabolism. 
  • Perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Which prevents coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes. And promotes healthy nerve activity and cell development
  • Contains Glycospingolipids: fatty acids that protect the stomach from gastrointestinal infections.
  • An excellent source of good cholesterol. Cholesterol is needed for healthy cellular function, and is essential to children's brain and nervous system development.
  • Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). If your butter is sourced from cows that feed on green grass, it can contain high levels of CLA. This is a compound that can help provide protection against different types of cancer



I use honey as a sweetener for any recipe that color is an issue. That goes for the cream pies, fruit tarts, cream cheese, & whipped cream. It is a natural sweet substance produced by honey bees from the nectar of plants. The darker the honey, the better its antibacterial and antioxidant power.


Sea Salt

Sea Salt is obtained naturally from the sea and does not go through any processing that alters the natural make-up of the salt. Therefore it contains many essential trace elements for a healthy lifestyle. It can help build a strong immune system, alkalizes the body, and reduce inflammation.



Dairy is sold regionally. I choose dairies that do NOT use artificial growth hormones rBGH (a.k.a. rBst) in their products. rBGH is a genetically engineered artificial hormone injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk. Despite opposition from scientists, farmers and consumers, the US currently allows dairy cows to be injected with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), also known as recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST)...When injected into cows, rBGH increases milk production 10 to 15 percent. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved rBGH in 1993, despite criticism that the effects of rBGH were never properly assessed. The FDA’s approval was based solely on one study administered by Monsanto...Although the FDA stated that the results showed no significant problems, the study was never actually published.

In 1998, an assessment by Health Canada determined that the results of Monsanto’s 90-day study provided reason for review.  Today, the European Union, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada do not allow the use of rBGH due to animal and human health concerns.


Local Organic Poultry 

If you have not yet had a local farm chicken, I challenge you! Roast up a store bought chicken and a chicken from a local farm. Now taste the difference.  The local farm chicken is well worth the added price due its significant increase in quality.  You will only know if you taste it for yourself!    

 The excellent flavor reflects their healthy, low stress lives and the attention and care given to them. The health benefits of pasture-raised chickens are higher in Vitamins D3 and E, 1/3 less cholesterol, and 1/4 less saturated fat. But what I like most is that they just taste better!

Note: Ask your local chicken farm about soup bones. A lower cost alternative for making the perfect stock.


Free Range Eggs

Studies reveal that free range eggs contain higher levels of omega-3, beta-carotene, and Vitamins A and E; With lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, and omega-6.



A thickening agent in our sweet pies, puddings, and our gluten-free crumb. It is the dried and powdered root from a tropical American plant. The only starch with calcium ash, arrowroot is very important for the maintenance of proper acid and alkaline balances in the human body. It is an easily digested food. 


Spices & Nuts


Pecans, ginger and cloves are high in manganese which activates enzymes throughout the body. It is involved in the formation of bone and cartilage, in reducing blood clotting, and in the effective use of insulin and in cholesterol synthesis.

Cinnamon stimulates digestive power and has antiseptic properties. It stimulates insulin activity and thus helps the body process sugars more efficiently.


Fruits & Vegetables


Apples are rich in boron (which helps prevent osteoporosis), have a low glycemic index (maintains proper blood sugar levels), and contains pectin (easily digestible dietary fiber). I recommend buy organic apples when possible. Living and working on an organic apple farm, I can tell you that conventional farms use some of the highest concentrates for apples. It is difficult to grow organic apples and many orchards use very harsh chemicals. If you have to use pesticide apples, as sometimes I do, I recommend peeling them. This will remove a large portion of spray.

Blackberries have antiviral, antiseptic, and astringent properties. High fiber content in blackberries help maintain digestive health, control blood sugar, lose weight and lower cholesterol levels. The flavonoids present in blackberries promote vision health. Rich in antioxidants they help the body in fighting free radicals which helps avoid breast and cervical cancer. If you can’t find them fresh, they are available in most freezer sections. The frozen ones tend to be less sweet, due to picking early.

Wild Blueberries have “immeasurable health benefits, particularly antioxidant compounds. These beneficial compounds help to immobilize free radicals in the body. Free radicals are implicated in the aging process, heart disease, memory loss, certain cancers and motor deterioration. Other benefits include improved vision, clearing arteries, strengthening blood vessels, stopping urinary tract infections, and promoting weight control.” Excellent source of vitamin A & C. 

I prefer the Wild Blueberries because they contain a much higher level of antioxidants. They are smaller and sweeter, and when cooked form a caviar like texture that is amazing! You can find them in most frozen sections, the quality of this brand is top notch.


Amazing for baking and available in many grocery stores nationwide.

Cherries are packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body and may help prevent cancer and heart disease. Cherries are a potential treatment for diabetes and may lower blood sugar levels. In addition, cherries provide relief from the pain of gout and arthritis. For my sweet cherry pie I use dark sweet cherries. You can get these in the frozen section if they are out of season.

Cranberries can be helpful in urinary tract infections, in lowering cholesterol, and even protecting against cancer and stroke.

Coconut is a tropical fruit that is rich in protein. Coconut is good for constipation and for any concentration of gas in the stomach and intestinal tract.

Peaches have been shown to ward off obesity-related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A good source of Vitamin A. The fiber, potassium, vitamin C and choline content in peaches all support heart health.

If you cannot get fresh peaches I recommend: Columbia River  These are the best (and only) frozen peaches I will use so far. They bake up similar to that of a fresh ripe peach. Many frozen peaches are picked too early and really lack flavor.

Raspberries are high in fiber, vitamins A and C, and folic acid. The frozen ones work good if cooking in pie, otherwise for the fresh tart use fresh ones that are packaged carefully.

Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and folic acid. Most importantly it is believed that the properties in strawberries help to guard against carcinogens introduced to the body, making them an excellent in cancer prevention.

Frozen Berries are fairly consistent frozen. I usually prefer local ones and/or Organic.

Butternut Pumpkin I have included a Fresh Pumpkin Pie recipe that I make almost all year round with butternut. In Australia, this squash is often referred to as a butternut pumpkin. It has a lower water content, is richer in flavor and color, and less stringy than many sugar (pie) pumpkins.  

A fact unknown to many of us, canned pumpkin companies use a winter squash blend which includes a high ratio of butternut. So what we are accustomed to in a pumpkin pie is often made with butternut.



Why Organic?

Organic vs. Non-Organic Fruits & Vegetables

For the majority of history agriculture was organic; only during the 20th century were new chemicals, known as pesticides, introduced. It wasn’t until the 1940‘s that the organic farming movement started. It was necessary to differentiate itself from these new chemicals overtaking conventional farming. Buying Organic Food: 

  • promotes a less toxic environment for all living things.
  • encourages biodiversity
  • can support our local economy 
  • provides us food that is higher in nutrients and better tasting

We know that buying organic can be more challenging and financially frustrating than buying conventionally grown. Below you will find all the fruits and vegetables used in the MPM Recipe Workbook. They are organized in groups by those farmed using high pesticide levels and those farmed using low pesticide levels. Choose for yourself what benefits you and your family’s needs most. In addition, I recommend buying fruits and vegetables in season. This will ensure the food is at its peak.


The article below from Time Magazine shares some additional information about choosing organic for your family.


Why Organic Is the Right Choice for Parents

Dr. Alan Greene Anna Lappé June 23, 2014, Time Magazine


Just in case you're undecided, we will make the case on why your kids should be eating organic.

A poll out last week from the Organic Trade Association found a sharp decrease in parents who say price is a key factor limiting their organic purchases. “Parents in charge of the household budget recognize the benefits of organic,” said the trade group’s Laura Batcha. “And they’re willing to pay a little more to know that they are giving their families the highest-quality and most healthy products being offered in their local store.”

We can already hear the organic food naysayers: Highest quality? Healthy products? Hogwash — the organic industry just wants you buying more of its goods.

But the truth is choosing organic-certified foods — when you can and can afford to — is one of the best choices you can make for your children. We should know: as a mom of two girls and an author of books about sustainable food (Anna) and as a pediatrician and father of four (Alan), we have a handle on the research as well as firsthand experience.

We choose organic because we know, for example, that children fed an organic diet have much lower levels of metabolites of high-risk insecticides in their bodies. We also know that choosing organic food reduces the risk of exposure to toxic pesticides in our diet. The 2008–09 President’s Panel on Cancer report stated, “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals.” Many of these chemicals are known or suspected to cause cancer or disrupt our hormones, mimicking testosterone or estrogen, its authors continued. “Nearly 1,400 pesticides … registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for agricultural and 

nonagricultural uses … have been linked to brain/central nervous system, breast, colon, lung, ovarian cancers … as well as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma” and more.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also warned about the exposure to pesticides. “Children encounter pesticides daily and have unique susceptibilities to their potential toxicity,” it wrote in 2012, and “chronic health implications from both acute and chronic exposure are emerging.”

While we can’t limit all of our children’s exposures to toxins in the environment, we do have a say in the food they eat. And one of the best ways to limit their exposure to these chemicals is to choose an organic diet. Because of the persistence of pesticides in the environment, no food is 100% residue-free, but Chuck Benbrook of the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University has found that organic food has significantly lower pesticide residues than conventional food.

Choosing organic meat and dairy for your kids is also the best way to ensure that they’re not exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals like the synthetic hormones given to nonorganic livestock to speed growth and alter reproductive cycles. And choosing organic meat and dairy means your children are not fed meat that was raised on daily doses of antibiotics to speed growth, leading to dangerous antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Your kids will get more of the good stuff too. A recent study comparing organic and nonorganic dairy production, commissioned by the farming cooperative Organic

Valley, found a medically significantly higher concentration of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in organic products. “Organic Valley is proving what our farm families have known for a long time,” said George Siemon, a founding co-op member. “Not only is high-quality pasture and forage better for cows, it produces nutritionally superior whole milk.”

Organic food is a healthy choice for all of us but especially for kids. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to chemicals, in part because their immune systems are still developing and in part because, pound for pound, they’re exposed to more chemical residues than adults. Another reason is that children and babies tend to eat a lot more of certain foods than adults — think bananas or apples.

The developing fetus in the womb is perhaps most vulnerable of all: three studies by scientists at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and Mount Sinai Hospital tracked women exposed to higher amounts of organophosphate pesticides while pregnant and found that once those children reached elementary-school age, they had IQs averaging several points below those of their peers.

We make the choice for organic not just for the health and safety of our own children but also for the health and safety of all children, especially to help protect the children of the people who grow and harvest our food. We know, for instance, that children born to women exposed to pesticides in agricultural fields or communities have lower IQs and other troubling health outcomes.

What about that 2012 Stanford study that purportedly found that organic food is no better for you than conventional food? The metastudy — or study of studies — was reported widely in the media to have found little evidence of health benefits from organic foods. While it found that conventional produce is five times more likely than organic to contain pesticide residues, the authors dismissed this conclusion based only on the total number of pesticide residues in food, not their toxicity. Critics of the study stressed that toxicity — the health risk posed by a particular residue — is what matters. According to Benbrook, an assessment of the same data set based on the known toxicity of residues reveals a 94% reduction in health risk from these pesticides among those who eat organic foods.

Lappé is the co-founder of the Small Planet Institute and a nationally best-selling author, most recently of Diet for a Hot Planet. Greene is a leading pediatrician and author of Feeding Baby Green, among other books.


Conventional fruits & vegetables where buying organic matters most

high pesticides:

Lemon, limes, oranges (if using rind)

Conventional fruits and vegetables with 

low-mid pesticides:

Winter squash