Healthy Pumpkin Pie

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Happy Diwali!  Sorry for the Monday morning rather than Sunday afternoon post – but I don’t have school today so for me its like a Sunday.  And I don’t have school Thursday.  And I don’t have school Friday.  And I don’t have school next Monday.  Life of a school teacher in November.

But anyways, that means good things for the blog, because I’ll have lots of time to experiment!  And this week was definitely an experiment.  My boyfriend, who we already know has much healthier tendencies than I do, came to me with the request of trying to make a pumpkin pie that was healthy.  Now, I’ve never actually made pumpkin pie before, or pie crust from scratch, but I did go to that technique class last week so I pretended to be an authority on the subject.  Also, I probably should make healthy recipes on occasion because either way I will end up eating too much of what I make.

So he found a recipe for nonfat (as in no fat at all – amazing, right?) whole wheat pie crust and low calorie pumpkin pie filling, and we gave it a shot.

First, use a food processor to pulse together the banana and whole wheat flour until there are no chunks of banana left and it feels a little like Floam.  I only have a mini chopper (looking at you, Santa), so I did it in two batches.  The banana should be cold before you do this (it’s replacing your cold butter), and be careful not to over process.  This crust does have a tendency to get tough, and I probably got a little carried away with my pulsing.

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Once combined, turn out onto a clean surface (I use my handy-dandy pastry mat) and add the truvia and cinnamon.

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Add warm water by the teaspoon and pull it together into a ball.  I added about 4 teaspoons, but it will depend on your flour.  Whole wheat flour soaks up liquid like nothing else you’ve worked with, so it usually needs more than a recipe calls for.  Again, the texture you are going for is simply not crumbling into pieces.

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Once combined, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer while you prepare the filling.  Side note – this dough is delicious.  It tastes like cinnamon banana goodness.  Entirely possible that you might want to just eat it at this stage and say screw the pie.  But for the sake of baking, we continued.

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For the filling, combine the pumpkin, milk, eggs, stevia, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  Whisk together until smooth.  This is where the I’ve-never-made-pumpkin-pie uncertainty came in for me.  I knew the final product was not a liquid pie, but I had a liquid filling.  Don’t worry, it does set in the oven while baking.  You have not ruined it already.

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Back to that no fat pie crust.  Take it out of the freezer and put it on your pastry mat.  You actually probably won’t need any additional flour to prevent sticking – the only problem I had with mine was that I let it get a little too cold, as I got a legitimate arm workout trying to roll it out.  Anyways, roll it to the 9″ pie markings on your mat, or, if you don’t have a pastry mat, roll it so that it’s big enough to drape over your pie pan.

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Feel free to cut the edges to make them clean and just eat them.  Or, if you’re a perfectionist, you can play Frankenstein and push them into the crevices that don’t quite reach the 9″ mark.

Now, for those of you who think I’ve lost my affinity for butter, turning to healthy recipes and such, do not despair – I did have one non-negotiable step in here.  I refuse to use cooking spray when making a pie crust.  It doesn’t work the same way.  So make sure you grease your pie plate liberally with real, old fashioned butter.

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Drape the pie crust over your pie plate and push it into the corners.  Cover with aluminum foil and put some kind of weight (pie weights, beans, rice…) in the middle to hold its shape.  Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes.

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Remove from oven and remove tin foil.  Bake again for about 5 more minutes.  You want the crust to be mostly baked, but not completely, so that the pumpkin filling doesn’t just turn it all into a pumpkin soup.  However, don’t bake it too much because then you’ll have a rock pie.

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Add the filling to the pie and bake for an additional 45 minutes at 350°F, or until the middle doesn’t jiggle when you move the pan.  If you are worried about the edges of the crust, you can make a tin foil ring to put around the outside, which I didn’t do, but I probably should have.  Take it out and let it cool on a wire rack to room temperature.   Trust me on this one, warm pumpkin pie tastes funky.  You actually should let it cool and that maybe even chill it more in the fridge before serving.

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Now, this experiment was definitely not a bust in the sense of the chocolate biscuits.  The pie, for what it was (a healthy recipe with a nonfat crust) satisfied that pumpkin flavor you might be craving.  However, unless your family REALLY is committed to having a healthy Thanksgiving, I probably wouldn’t serve it for the main dessert.  The crust is not flaky, due to the lack of butter, and the sweet factor isn’t totally there.  For me, a buttery, flaky crust is super essential to the pie experience.

But, if you are looking for a healthy pumpkin pie as a casual treat to have around or as an alternative to your main dessert course for those guests who insist they are on a diet but need pie, this would work.  I know my attitude after Thanksgiving dinner is “I’ve already eaten 3 days worth of calories, may as well keep it going”, but there may be people out there who can get to the dessert table and would appreciate the healthier choice.  This pie will satisfy those people.

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If you have any recommendations to improve the crust, PLEASE share them in the comments.  The filling was pretty good as is, but regular sugar instead of stevia would also work well I think.  Next week, expect something back on that full fat kick (and probably getting away from pumpkin), but for those of you trying to stay healthy through the holiday season, this one was for you.

Enjoy!

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Healthy Pumpkin Pie

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 banana, cold
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 packages (1 tablespoon) truvia
  • 1-4 teaspoons of warm water

Filling

  • 1 can pure pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon stevia

Directions:

  1. Prepare the crust: Pulse together banana and whole wheat flour in food processor until no chunks of banana remain.  Turn onto pastry mat and add truvia and cinnamon.  Add warm water by the teaspoon (about 4) until dough is no longer crumbly.  Wrap and chill.
  2. Add all of the filling ingredients to a bowl and whisk until smooth.
  3. Remove pie crust from freezer and roll out thin to fit over 9″ pie plate.  Drape over greased pie plate and push into corners.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and pie weights.  Bake at 350°F for 5 minutes.
  5. Remove aluminum foil and weights and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  6. Add filling to crust and bake for 45 minutes or until center is set.  Remove and allow to cool to room temperature on a wire rack.
  7. Chill in the refrigerator before serving.

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