November is a tough month. I mean, we've barely recovered from our Halloween sugar shock and already we're gearing up for an all-day eat-off of turkey and trimmings.
And no matter how stuffed we feel at the end of Thanksgiving dinner, we still feel compelled to wrap up the festivities with the traditional slice of pumpkin pie.
I'm right there with you. I love pumpkin pie, especially covered with a dollop or two of real whipped cream. Trouble is, that one slice packs tons of extra fat and calories you don't need on top of everything else you've already enjoyed. A typical slice of pumpkin pie can have nearly 400 calories and more than 23 grams of fat.
It's hard to feel thankful for those numbers.
So I decided to come up with a healthier version of pumpkin pie. It's so good and so much lighter than traditional versions, you might even get away with eating two slices. Ready for the numbers? It has just 100 calories and less than 1 gram of fat per slice.
My version uses just a few healthy substitutions, and you'll be surprised at how great they taste. Stevia (a no-calorie natural sweetener), agave syrup and coconut nectar stand in for sugar. Nonfat Greek-style yogurt subs for whole milk. And gelatin thickens the pie filling and the "whipped cream."
The bulk of the calories and fat in pies comes from the crust, usually thanks to ample amounts of butter or shortening. Here, I've used sheets of phyllo dough stacked on top of one another. This eliminates most of the fat that goes into a pie. Plus, it makes a great crispy, crunchy crust.
About the "whipped cream" — gelatin mixed with fat-free milk, stevia and coconut nectar helps the mixture truly whip. There's zero fat, and very few calories, so feel free to pile mounds of my whipped cream on your pie. Or run your finger through the whipped cream as you make it. And lick the beaters!
If you just make simple, low-calorie swaps like these during the season, you shouldn't have a problem enjoying your favorite holiday foods. Since I started cooking like this, I haven't had a problem myself, and I've even lost a few pounds over the holidays.
Making this pie is a cinch too, so resist the urge to purchase one of those frozen pumpkin pies. Simply make the phyllo crust, bake it, fill it with the pumpkin mixture, then chill the pie. Except for the crust, this is no-bake pie. Excuse the cliche, but it is truly "easy as pie."
— Don't hesitate to start your Thanksgiving cooking a day early. This pie holds well in the refrigerator for up to a day.
— The whipped cream is best served immediately, but it can be covered and chilled in the refrigerator. To bring the whipped cream back to the original creaminess after chilling, place the bowl of whipped cream in a larger bowl half-filled with ice water and beat with the whisk attachment of an electric mixer on high until nice and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. It will lose volume first but then grow again as you beat it.
PUMPKIN PIE WITH WHIPPED CREAM
Start to finish: 45 minutes (plus 4 hours chilling)
For the pie:
Butter-flavored cooking spray
6 sheets (14-by-9-inch sheets) frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/4 cup cold water
1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
2 3/4 cups canned pumpkin (one-and-a-half 15-ounce cans)
1 cup fat-free plain Greek-style yogurt
1/4 cup agave syrup
4 packets stevia sweetener powder
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
For the whipped cream:
1 cup fat-free milk, divided
1 1/8 teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 tablespoon coconut nectar
3 packets stevia sweetener powder
1 vanilla bean, split
Heat the oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-inch pie dish with the cooking spray.
Unroll the phyllo dough, then cover with plastic wrap while you work. Lay 1 sheet of the phyllo on the counter. Lightly mist the phyllo with cooking spray. Set a second sheet of phyllo over the first, rotating it slightly. Mist the second sheet of phyllo, then repeating this process with remaining phyllo sheets, rotating each time a sheet is added. Mist the final sheet of phyllo.
Use a knife to carefully trim the stack of phyllo into a 12-inch circle. Discard the scraps. Carefully lift the stack and set into the prepared pie dish, gently pressing the phyllo against the bottom and sides of the dish.
Bake the phyllo crust for 10 to 12 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and crisp. Set aside to cool while preparing the filling.
In a small saucepan, combine the cold water and envelope of gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Set the saucepan over medium and heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin, yogurt, agave, 4 packets of the stevia, the pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in the gelatin mixture, mixing well. Pour the pie filling into the cooled phyllo crust. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours before serving.
When ready to serve, prepare the whipped cream. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the milk and the gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes.
In a small saucepan over medium, combine the remaining milk, coconut nectar and 3 packets of stevia. With the tip of a small knife, slice open the vanilla bean, then scrape the seeds into the pot. Discard the vanilla pod. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the nectar. Add the gelatin mixture to the hot milk and whisk to dissolve. Pour the mixture into a medium stainless steel bowl or into the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place a larger bowl half-filled with ice water beneath the bowl of milk mixture (if using a stand mixer, put small zip-close bags of ice around the bottom of the mixer bowl). Beat the milk mixture with the whisk attachment on high for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the mixture is thickened to a whipped cream consistency. The volume of the mixture will grow as it cools and whips.
To serve, cut the pie into 10 wedges. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream over each pie wedge.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 100 calories; 1 g fat (0 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 100 mg sodium.