Pumpkin Pudding

Healthy Alternatives to Thanksgiving Day Recipes

Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for what we have, but also the day when everyone eats an insane amount of food. And that’s just at dinner; there are still desserts afterwards, like pie, which is the last stop before the food coma. All of these calories add up, so here are some healthier alternatives, as well as tips, for Thanksgiving desserts.

Merrily Ervin, a professor of nutrition science and Coordinator of School of Science shared two of her favorite healthy recipes. The first she said is “very easy, elegant, and tasty!”

Roasted Pears with Amaretti and Amaretto

Serves Four

• 3 T Amaretto or other almond-flavored liqueur

• 1 T balsamic vinegar

• 4 firm-ripe Bartlett pears, halved lengthwise and cored

• 1/3 cup water

• 4 amaretti cookies (Italian almond macaroons; 1/2 inch diameter), crumbled


1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

2. Mix amaretto and vinegar in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Put pears, cut side down, in dish.

3. Roast pears 15 minutes. Add water and roast until pears are tender but still hold their shape, 8 to 10 minutes more.

4. Arrange pears, cut sides up, on a platter and spoon pan juices over them. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cookie crumbs, and then baste with pan juices. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and serve warm or at room temperature.

Her second recipe, she said, “This is tastier than pumpkin pie and does not have a crust, which is what adds a lot of calories to pie.”

Pumpkin Pudding

Serves Six

• 2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk

• 3/4 cup dark brown sugar

• 1/4 cup cornstarch

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

• 1/4 t salt

• 1/4 t pumpkin pie spice


1. Whisk milk, sugar, and cornstarch in a large saucepan; bring to a boil.

2. Boil 3 minutes, whisking constantly.

3. Beat eggs with a whisk in a large bowl.

4. Gradually add half of the hot milk mixture to the beaten eggs.

5. Return milk-egg mixture to pan.

6. Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until thick, whisking constantly.

7. Remove from heat and stir in pumpkin, salt, and pumpkin-pie spice.

8.Spoon evenly into six 6-ounce custard cups.

9. Let cool, and chill for about 30 minutes, or until pudding is set.

Sydney Underhill, a junior political science student, shared a recipe that she makes every year for the holidays from minimalistbaker.com.

Vegan Gluten Free Black Bean Brownies

Serves: Twelve

• 1 15 oz. can (~ 1 3/4 cups) black beans, well rinsed and drained

• 2 large flax eggs

• 3 T coconut oil, melted (or sub other oil of choice)

• 3/4 cup cocoa powder (the higher quality the better)

• 1/4 tsp sea salt

• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

• Heaping 1/2 cup raw sugar, slightly ground or pulsed in a food processor or coffee grinder for refined texture

• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

• Optional toppings: crush walnuts, pecans or semisweet chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Lightly grease a 12-slot standard size muffin pan (not mini). Make sure you’ve rinsed and thoroughly drained your black beans at this point.

3. Prepare flax egg by combining flax and water in the bowl of the food processor. Pulse a couple times and then let rest for a few minutes.

4. Add remaining ingredients (besides walnuts or other toppings) and puree – about 3 minutes – scraping down sides as needed. You want it pretty smooth.

5. If the batter appears too thick, add a tbsp or two of water and pulse again. It should be slightly less thick than chocolate frosting but nowhere close to runny.

6. Evenly distribute the batter into the muffin tin and smooth the tops with a spoon or your finger.

7. Optional: Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, pecans or chocolate chips.

8. Bake for 20-26 minutes or until the tops are dry and the edges start to pull away from the sides. I found mine took about 25. minutes.

9. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before removing from pan. They will be tender, so remove gently with a fork. The insides are meant to be very fudgy, so don’t be concerned if they seem too moist – that’s the point. Plus, they’re vegan so it doesn’t really matter.

10. Store in an airtight container for up to a few days. Refrigerate to keep longer.

Aside from healthy recipes, it’s also important to know about the nutritional benefits of some of the most popular Thanksgiving foods.

Charles Balzer, an adjunct professor of chemistry and physics said, “With so much focus on large portion sizes and over indulgences of calories and fat, it is sometimes forgotten that the traditional Thanksgiving staples can deliver very healthy nutrients and nutrient like compounds.”

One of the examples he gives is that “sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie contain carotenoids – perhaps most notably beta-carotene – which has both free radical fighting antioxidant benefits on its own, as well as the ability to convert to vitamin A in the body.”

So even if you want to stick to traditional Thanksgiving desserts, yet still want to avoid consuming a lot of calories in one day, then try to eat everything in moderation so you can have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.

IMAGE TAKEN from lifehack.org