I love pumpkin pie, especially covered with a dollop or two of real whipped cream. Trouble is, one slice packs tons of extra fat and calories that you don't need on top of everything else you've already enjoyed. A typical slice can have nearly 400 calories and more than 23 grams of fat.
It's hard to feel thankful for those numbers.
So I came 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. 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. Plus, it makes a great, crispy 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.
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 a no-bake pie.
Start to finish: 45 minutes (plus 4 hours chilling)
For the pie:
Butter-flavored cooking spray, as needed
6 (9-by-14-inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1 envelope unflavored gelatin powder
2 3/4 cups canned pumpkin (approximately one, 15-ounce can, plus half of another)
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 oven to 350 F. Coat a 9-inch pie dish with some of the cooking spray.
Unroll the phyllo dough, then cover with plastic wrap while you work. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo on the counter. Lightly mist phyllo with cooking spray. Set a second sheet of phyllo over first, rotating it slightly. Mist second sheet of phyllo, then repeat this process with remaining phyllo sheets, rotating each time a sheet is added. Mist final sheet of phyllo.
Use a knife to carefully trim stack of phyllo into a 12-inch circle. Discard scraps. Carefully lift stack and set into prepared pie dish, gently pressing phyllo against bottom and sides of dish.
Bake phyllo crust for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Set aside to cool while preparing filling.
In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup cold water and the envelope of gelatin. Set aside for 5 minutes.
Set saucepan over medium and heat, stirring continuously, until gelatin is dissolved. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large bowl, stir together the pumpkin, yogurt, agave, 4 stevia packets, pumpkin-pie spice, vanilla extract and salt. Stir in gelatin mixture, mixing well. Pour pie filling into cooled phyllo crust. Chill in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours before serving.
When ready to serve, prepare 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 remaining milk with the coconut nectar and 3 stevia packets. With tip of a small knife, slice open the vanilla bean, then scrape seeds into pot. Discard vanilla pod. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve nectar. Add gelatin mixture to hot milk and whisk to dissolve. Pour mixture into a medium, stainless-steel bowl or into bowl of a stand mixer.
Place a larger bowl, half-filled with ice water, beneath bowl of milk mixture (if using a stand mixer, put small zip-close bags of ice around bottom of mixer bowl). Beat milk mixture with whisk attachment on high for 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened to a whipped-cream consistency. Volume of mixture will grow as it cools and whips.
To serve, cut pie into 10 wedges. Spoon 2 tablespoons whipped cream over each pie wedge.
Nutrition information: 100 calories; 1 g fat (0 g saturated); 0 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 2 g fiber; 100 mg sodium.
Rocco DiSpirito is author of the "Now Eat This!" and "Now Eat This! Diet" cookbooks.