Monday, April 4, 2016

Healthy Snacks: Pumpkin Pie Pudding

I discovered a fantastic recipe recently. It is a frugal, easy and healthy recipe that provides a good portion of beta-carotene. I found the recipe in an old cookbook called Homemade Snacks by Nell B. Nichols from Farm Journal. I was excited to try it because last year I got a dozen or so large cans of pumpkin puree on manager's special for $.25 and they are getting a little too far past sell-by date.
Pumpkin puree is a fantastic thing to put into pudding. It doesn't detract from the flavor or sweetness of the butterscotch pudding, but only has 80 calories per cup (compared to 260/cup for pudding). It contains no fat (compared to 5.6 grams in pudding), no cholesterol (1 cup of pudding contains 85% of the cholesterol you should eat in a whole day!), 10 grams of sodium (versus 436 grams in pudding) and very little sugar (8 grams vs. 41 grams). It also adds a whopping 10 grams of fiber, which is something Americans are desperately short on (and honestly, given the horrific health issues that can result from a low-fiber diet, we'd all do better to add as much as we reasonably can) and a moderate amount of protein. Due to the beta-carotene and other antioxidants, they may help the eyes, reduce cancer risk, and protect the skin. It also contains a good amount of Vitamins C and E, potassium and iron. In short, it is a fantastic thing to include in the diet, especially when it helps you cut back on something less healthy.

This recipe uses boxed pudding mix, although you could certainly use from-scratch pudding as well. I used the boxes pudding for a couple reasons. One: I got the boxed mix on a really, really good sale and have a lot in the stockpile. Two: I know that nutrition and cost have to be balanced with time constraints. The way I see it, while this uses a processed food, it is a reasonably nutritious snack and, being so simple to make, it is just as easy as buying pudding packs. This makes it realistic for working moms to make for kids lunches, or for anyone who wants a yummy dessert but who is short on time. It's one of the simplest desserts I've made.

Basically, you make a package of butterscotch pudding according the package instructions. Then you mix in 16 oz of plain pumpkin puree, 1 tsp of pumpkin pie spice (or to taste) and mix it together. Allow to set up in the refrigerator. It won't set up as solid as straight pudding, but has a good texture.

To serve as Pumpkin Pie pudding, simply top with some crumbled graham crackers and a bit of lightly sweetened whipped cream. I also love to top it with vanilla ice cream. With or without crumbled graham crackers. With candied pecans. With a sprinkling of cinnamon. With a drizzle of caramel sauce. You could also use dried and crumbled leftover sweets like snickerdoodle cookies. Or add a pie crust cookie.

Sometime soon I want to try making this into a frozen pie. I think I'll bake a graham cracker crust, then fill with the pudding mixture and freeze. To serve, I'd add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It might be something fun to try.

Don't stop at pumpkin and butterscotch pudding. There are lots of fun ideas to try. Replace the pumpkin puree with cooked and mashed carrots or butternut/acorn squash. Maybe use applesauce and a caramel pudding. Use vanilla instead of butterscotch. Maybe even try chocolate. Add leftover mashed sweet potatoes. There are lots of ways to sneak veggies into dessert.

Most of us aren't going to give up having dessert just to be healthy. However, looking for ways to limit fat and sugar while adding nutrients will help us be healthier without feeling deprived.

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  1. That sounds delicious! I have also used cans of pumpkin with muffin mixes. All you need is the mix and 16 oz can of pumpkin puree, stir together and bake as directed. I have used in cranberry orange mixes from Aldis and then made a crumble topping with some oatmeal, butter and brown sugar. My co-workers LOVED them! Also tried it with the chocolate mix and sprinkled in a few chocolate chips - super moist and a great chocolate fix and not too terribly bad in the nutrition stats. I'm always looking for a way to get to enjoy a dessert :)

    1. Oh! That sounds awesome! I'll definitely have to try this!


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