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Lowering the Fat in Pumpkin Pie

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Lower Fat Pumpkin Pie

Lower Fat Pumpkin Pie

Fiona Haynes
Nothing says Thanksgiving like pumpkin pie, but pie crust and filling can amount to a great deal of fat and calories, and if you allow too generous a helping, and top it with whipped cream, you have a recipe for diet disaster. So how can you have your pie and eat it, so to speak?

The filling

First the good news: in itself, pumpkin is highly nutritious. Chock-full of vitamin A, and a good source of vitamin C, fiber and iron, you can feel slightly virtuous by eating a dessert isn't devoid of nutrition. I like to buy organic pumpkin if I can. Trader Joe's sells it, and Farmer's Market brand is widely available, too. So obviously there's no need to mess with the main ingredient. The spices, of course, present no problem. Without them, the pie would be lacking in flavor.

Some recipes call for whole milk and cream, and a couple of eggs, which makes for an incredibly rich, delicious and calorie-laden pie filling. Other recipes ask for either evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk.

As an aside, it's important to know the difference between these two similar-sounding canned milks. The key word is sweetened. Any recipe calling for condensed milk will not ask for added sugar, as condensed milk is already highly sweetened, containing about 40-45 percent sugar. Evaporated milk, on the other hand, is much less sweet, and makes a great light substitute for cream.

Whichever one of these you use in your recipes, the good news is that both come in low-fat and fat-free varieties, so you can save a lot of fat and calories by using a lower-fat milk instead of the regular versions.

This leaves the eggs. Most pumpkin pie recipes call for two whole eggs. Eggs are not especially high in fat, but if you need to watch your cholesterol and you still need to shave some fat off your pumpkin pie, then you can either compromise by using one whole egg and two whites, or simply use four egg whites instead.

The crust

OK, now let's tackle the crust, which adds a fair amount of fat and calories, especially if it's a flaky, buttery crust. On the one hand you can argue that so long as you eat a slim slice, no harm done. That's true, so long as you have restricted your fat intake throughout the rest of the Thanskgiving meal. Chances are, though, you might have used up quite a bit of your fat budget with the main course. If you want a lower-fat crust, you can get away with using as little as 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 tablespoon of canola oil, as with this lower-fat pumpkin pie.

Another crust option is to use phyllo dough, which is crisp, flaky and very low in fat. You form a crust by layering sheets of phyllo on top of each other, with a quick spray of butter-flavored cooking spray and a sprinkle of cinnamon or brown sugar in between.

You can go without a crust if it's all about the pumpkin and less about the pie! You can make a slightly firmer filling for a crustless pie by using gelatin, as with this pumpkin pie.

Finally, let's talk about portion control. Simply enjoy a regular slice of slim pie, or if you have little choice, enjoy a slim slice of regular pie and consider forgoing the cream!

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