For many, the highlight of the holiday meal is dessert, whether it's pumpkin pie, apple pie, pecan pie, or perhaps something other than pie. The trouble with most kinds of pie is that they are huge fat and calorie traps. So instead, consider some lighter versions of your favorite pie, as well as some seasonal fruit alternatives. But first, let's kick off with variations on pumpkin pie.
Here's a lower-fat version of a traditional pumpkin pie. What makes this pumpkin pie lighter is the use of less butter, switching in fat-free evaporated milk for the regular version, and using an egg white instead instead of a second whole egg. This still makes a delicious holiday pie, but one in which the cholesterol and saturated fat content are significantly lower.
Most of the fat in pumpkin pie is in the crust, so if you want make a more significant dent in your fat and calorie intake, consider making a crustless pumpkin pie, which is still made in a pie plate, and slices beautifully.
There are two things that makes these little pumpkin pies an ideal Thanksgiving or Christmas treat: their instant portion control, and the use of low-fat phyllo dough. Enjoy one or two of these mini pies, depending on how much room you have left after the main course.
By any measure cheesecake is hardly a low fat dessert, but you can make a lighter version with a few nifty subsitutions. While my children are not fond of pumpkin pie, they will eat pumpkin cheesecake. To me, there's not a whole lot of difference in flavor, apart from the tang associated with cream cheese, but if you prefer a cheesecake-based dessert for the holidays, this a great option.
If pumpkin is not your thing, or you've simply had enough pumpkin this fall, then treat yourself to a cranberry apple crisp, which makes a wonderful late fall and winter dessert, and alternative holiday dessert. Top with some fat-free nondairy whip or a scoop of low fat frozen yogurt.
Poached pears are a naturally low fat dessert, and elegant looking, too. I also love the aroma of the poaching liquid.
If you're not a fan of pie, then perhaps these baked pears with cranberries and walnuts will fit the bill. The walnuts are a nice addition, and while they're not low fat, they are, of course, chock full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Top with a modest scoop of low fat frozen yogurt.
These cute little maple pecan tarts offer a taste of pecan pie without the fat and calories of a full blown slice--a perfect exercise in portion control, so long as you limit yourself to just one or two!
The beauty of phyllo dough is that it's low fat, has no saturated or trans fat, and no cholesterol, making it a great alternative to regular pastry. It happens to be light, crisp and flaky; and so long as you use butter-flavored cooking spray between layers, or drizzle some honey and brown sugar between layers, instead of brushing generous amounts of melted butter, it's a perfect low fat choice for strudels such as this one.
This galette-style apple pie is another great use for phyllo dough. Phyllo is paper thin and you need to work quickly, but otherwise it makes a nice alternative to pastry. Serve this apple pie hot with a little nondairy whipped topping, some frozen vanilla yogurt, or simply by itself.