I always look forward to this time of year. Food, family, friends, and fun — what’s not to love?
I especially love the time with family and special seasonal dishes. Pumpkin pie is always on our dining room table.
As a little girl, I remember my grandmother making pies. Rolling out the dough was always the best part. Flash-forward a few years (ok, more like a few decades), and I still love making pies. So, when Methodist Health System’s public relations team sought me out for a holiday pie with a healthier spin, I was so excited, because I knew this would be a family affair!
Healthy pie bake-off!
My family loves to eat (maybe this is what drove me to study nutrition in college!), so when word got out I needed taste-testers, the Susie family showed up, forks ready! By the end of that Sunday afternoon, the kitchen was covered in flour, four pies, and one clear winner (see the recipe below).
For inspiration, I busted into my mother’s recipe box. I found quite a few hand-written recipes and rules for the perfect pumpkin pie.
Borrowing the spice blend from my maternal grandmother and the crust recipe from my paternal grandmother, I then added my own dietitian spin on things.
My mother and sister had easy suggestions: “Use a sugar substitute for sweetness” or “Just don’t have a crust.” I cannot imagine eating a crustless pie on Thanksgiving. It goes against my whole MO as a dietitian, where I try to keep things as close to nature as possible. I also knew I did not want to use sugar substitutes. The compromise: We worked on two different fillings and two different crust options.
Putting pumpkin pie to the test
Here’s a rundown of the trial and error we found when making our healthier holiday pie.
Crust fail: Leaving out the fat
I mean it — there was no fat in this crust. No butter, no lard, no oil, no fat — none. Let me tell you how that panned out: It was so dry, my dogs wouldn’t even eat it! My Dad just scraped out the filling and left the crust. I got the hint.Filling fail: No egg yolks
For this filling, we used only egg whites, hoping to cut the fat. (If you bake, you know where I am going with this.) The result was pumpkin soufflé!
This pie was fantastic. Here’s what we did:
- We incorporated canola oil instead of butter in crust, which eliminated the saturated fat (that was great news for the Susie family, since we all have cholesterol issues). Canola oil is a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, is neutral in taste, and has a medium high smoke point, which makes it great for baking.
- On the filling, we saved a few more calories and fat by using fat-free evaporated milk (yes, they make this product!) and using only one whole egg instead of two.
I hope you enjoy this special recipe! Remember, you can enjoy holiday meals. Just be sure you watch your portions sizes and make time to exercise. You can always find my family running the YMCA Turkey Trot before we feast! Happy holidays from my family to yours!
Caroline manages the internal wellness program to improve the health of Methodist Health System’s employee and dependent population. A University of Oklahoma graduate, Caroline has 10 years experience as a registered and licensed dietitian.
From Caroline’s Kitchen: The Susie Family Pumpkin Pie
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup canola oil
- Mix flour and salt.
- Add oil gradually until dough is crumbly.
- Place dough in between 2 pieces of wax paper (sprinkle with flour so dough does not stick). Roll dough out into circle and place into 9-inch pie pan that has been sprayed with nonstick baking spray. Press dough into bottom and up sides of dish.
¼ teaspoon cloves
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup sugar
12 ounces fat-free evaporated milk
15 ounces pure pumpkin
2 egg whites and 1 whole egg, beaten
- Mix first 5 ingredients.
- Combine beaten eggs, pumpkin, and spice mixture.
- Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Pour into pie shell.
- Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 350 for 45 minutes.