Pumpkin pie generally falls into two categories: people love it or they don't. I've never understood those on the fence about pumpkin pie. It's creamy, vibrantly colored and, according to Dr. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., of the Mayo Clinic, it is loaded with nutrients like potassium, vitamin A and iron. Add in the subtle spicy notes of cinnamon, cloves and allspice, the sweet kick of sugar, and pour it into a flaky, buttery crust, and voila, you have evoked the essence of fall, and the gratitude of turkey-weary diners near and far.
I am unapologetically in love with the stuff, but I wanted a way to enjoy those same great flavors without the unhealthy extras I didn't need. While I thoroughly enjoy every last one of those unnecessary calories, it's important to make healthy choices when I can, and dessert seemed like a great place to re-imagine a classic.
To combat the ultra-rich pie haze of Thanksgiving, I came up with this super simple, extra luscious pumpkin pie alternative. The truth is, I didn't feel like baking a whole pie from scratch after eight hours in the kitchen roasting a bird and preparing numerous sides. The time I saved making this dessert yielded more time to spend with my family, laughing and debating whether or not to wake up for Black Friday.
The final result yielded a wonderful homemade oat-nut granola, and a light as air pumpkin mousse with low-fat whipped topping. The crunch of the granola tricked my brain into thinking I was eating pie-crust, and the smooth creamy pumpkin had the right amount of sweet and spice to satisfy my post-Thanksgiving dinner sweet tooth. The best part? I was only in the kitchen about twenty minutes. Give this remix a try, and be ready to have a new dessert regular at your holiday table.
Pumpkin Pie Redo
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
½ cup chopped, unsalted walnuts or pecans
½ cup honey
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
2 tablespoons sugar
2 ½ cups low fat whipped cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 300F.
In a mixing bowl, combine the rolled oats, walnuts, honey, extra virgin olive oil, salt and ½ teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice.
Spread the mixture onto a lightly greased pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden brown.
Allow to cool uncovered for an hour to crisp.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine the canned pumpkin, remaining pumpkin pie spice, sugar and vanilla extract. Stir until smooth.
Gently fold 1 ½ cups of whipped topping into the pumpkin mixture. Be careful not to over mix.
In cocktail glasses, layer the pumpkin mousse, remaining whipped topping, followed by a tablespoon of oat-nut crumble, until each layer has been repeated twice.
Place in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.
Note: you can have fun with this recipe and replace the oat-nut granola with crumbled gingersnaps, or even crushed graham crackers. I may just add a splash of bourbon to my pumpkin puree this year, to give it an adult-friendly kick.
What healthy alternatives are you cooking up this holiday season? Do you have a dessert that puts a smile on your family's faces but doesn't break the calorie bank?
Bryanne Salazar is a freelance writer and editor, a contributing author for the website What the Flicka?, and a food-meets-culture blogger living in Southern California. Her blog, Bryanne Bites the World documents her explorations of various ethnic communities and food cultures across the United States. Bryanne majored in English and creative writing in college, and loves to pen short stories in her spare time. She is also an advocate for women and girls worldwide, the mother of two teenage boys, and the wife of an active duty United States Marine. You can follow Bryanne on Twitter to see what she's working on next.