As all-American desserts go, it's hard to beat apple pie. But it doesn't have to replace healthy eating.

With pie, the dietary downfall is the crust, which typically is laden with butter or shortening. Try a lighter handheld flaky pastry such as phyllo dough, the papery thin pastry used in baklava. Usually, it is brushed with melted butter to help it bake into thin layers. For less fat, use few mists of cooking spray, instead.

In this recipe, the dough is rolled into little cigars. But it's just as easy to fold them into triangles, just place the filling at one end, then fold like a flag.

One thing about working with phyllo dough - if you let it dry out, it tears easily. So be sure to take out just the amount you need to work with. To keep the rest moist, cover with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Any phyllo you don't need should be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, then placed in a zip-close bag and refrigerated.

Apple Phyllo Cigars

Ingredients:

•1/4 cup sugar

•1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

•1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

•2 Gala or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and diced

•Small pinch salt

•1 teaspoon lemon juice

•1 teaspoon water

•1 teaspoon cornstarch

•4 sheets phyllo dough

•Butter-flavored or plain cooking spray

Directions:

In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, toss the apples with one tablespoon of the sugar mixture and the salt. Saute until tender, about three to four minutes. In a small cup, mix together the lemon juice, water and cornstarch. Stir into the apples and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Evenly stack the 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Slice the stack in half lengthwise. Remove one half sheet from the stack and cover the rest with plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel.

Place the piece of phyllo dough in front of you and spoon one tablespoon of the apple filling across one of the short ends. Spritz the dough lightly with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with 1/2 teaspoon of the reserved spiced sugar. Starting with the apple end, roll up the pastry sheet to create a log with the apples in the middle. Place the cigar on the prepared baking sheet, with the loose end down. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Spray the tops with cooking spray and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Servings: 8