A healthier pumpkin pie? Try this recipe

Traditional american holiday pumpkin pie, traditional pastry cake on wooden table

Pumpkin pie is a popular holiday staple, and it can be healthy. The key to a healthy version is balancing the benefits of the fruit with the downsides of added fats and sweeteners.

A few key health benefits of pumpkin:

  • Contains compounds that are good for protecting the health of your eyes, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. It’s also rich in Vitamin A, which is also good for your eyes, as well as maintaining healthy skin and bones and fighting infections.
  • High in vitamin C, an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage from free radicals.
  • Low in calories, with about 50 calories per one-cup serving, along with 6 grams of fiber.
  • One serving contains 16% of your recommended daily allowance of potassium, which is good for your heart.

“Studies have also shown that consuming pumpkin may help people manage their diabetes and liver disorders, and it may even help with depression,” says Susan Thomas, a registered dietitian with BlueCare Tennessee.

However, the butter and granulated sugar in many recipes make pumpkin pie a questionable choice for many people. And that’s before adding whipped cream.

“It’s fun to enjoy pumpkin pie at this time of year, but it might be worth trying a slightly healthier version this year,” says Thomas.

You could start by just enjoying a smaller piece, since moderation is key. But you could also try reducing the total amount of added sugar in your pie recipe—or replacing the refined sugar with natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey or others. Reducing the amount of refined sugar in your diet is always a good idea because most of us consume more than the recommended amount.

Try this recipe, which also offers replacements granulated sugar with natural sugars, which may allow everyone to enjoy this taste of the holidays:

Traditional Pumpkin Pie Ingredients

1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 pie crust


Mix ingredients, adding the evaporated milk slowly at the end. Bake in preheated 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Lower temp to 350 degrees. Cook until center sets. Cool for 2 hours. Serve or refrigerate.

A Healthier (no granulated sugar) Pumpkin Pie Recipe

Replace granulated sugar above with a mixture of:
½ cup of dates
¼ cup of maple syrup

Combine dates and syrup well in a food processor, gradually adding pumpkin, then spices. For a lower fat option, replace the evaporated milk with 2% low fat milk. Follow directions as outlined above.

WellTuned holiday food guide: no sugar added

For the pie crust, there are a variety of options. You can make your own. Or even try a crustless recipe. If you go the store-bought route, read the nutrition label to avoid a product with lots of hydrogenated oils or lard.

WellTuned tips for healthy holiday eating

Jennifer Larson

Jennifer Larson is Nashville-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years of experience. She specializes in health care and family issues.

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.