Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A healthier version of your typical Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, plus chocolate November 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:23 AM
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MY FRIEND MANDY is sweet and giving and super smart.

She is also a two-time cancer survivor, an avid gardener and a bit of a health food nut. Her enthusiasm for eating healthy is contagious, although contagious is not really the correct word to correlate with healthy.

Let’s just say she is convincing. And she does not simply talk the talk. This 36-year-old nurse practitioner by profession and parish nurse via volunteerism eats healthy and is leading healthy living workshops, offering food samples and recipes, striving to drive home her message.

She cans and freezes all that produce goodness grown on the rural acreage she shares with her husband, Jeff, east of Faribault.

And then she gives it away. Not everything. But plenty.

Just a few days ago, while attending bible study at Mandy and Jeff’s house, I left with two 16-ounce pouches of frozen pumpkin and another packet of green beans. Only two days earlier she had handed me two sealed pouches of still-warm-from-the-oven pumpkin.

My friend insisted that none of us should buy canned pumpkin and I had to confess that I had two cans in the cupboard. Mandy said she would forgive me this time.

And just to prove that healthy eating can be as tasty as she claims, Mandy served our bible study group two pies. Not until afterward, however, did she reveal that both include tofu. I knew, though, as Mandy had informed me ahead of time and I’ve actually made the chocolate pie several times.

So, if you are looking for a healthier alternative to the typical pies you may be baking for Thanksgiving, here are two recipes that will fool those tofu naysayers. I’m making these. But not until after my brother-in-law and a few other family members have finished off their slices of pie will I reveal the ingredients. Or, perhaps I should remain silent.

Pumpkin and other pies, not the healthy variety that includes tofu, at an event I attended last year.

Tofu Pumpkin Pie

1 can (16 ounces) 100% pumpkin puree
¾ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 package (12 or 12 ½ ounces) soft tofu, processed in blender until smooth
9-inch unbaked, whole wheat pie shell (or you can use a regular unbaked crust in a deep dish pie pan, but this is not quite as healthy)

Preparation: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a mixing bowl, cream together pumpkin and sugar. Add salt, spices and tofu; mix thoroughly until smooth. Pour mixture into pie shell and bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 – 50 minutes. Chill and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Source: The Anti-Cancer Cookbook via Mandy

You could choose to make this calorie and fat-laden (but super delicous) chocolate cheesecake or try the healthier chocoloate pie recipe below. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert and I will never give it up, FYI.

Chocolate Cream Pie

10 -12 oz. soft silken tofu
10 oz. dark chocolate chips
1 – 2 teaspoons vanilla
9-inch graham cracker crust

Blend the soft silken tofu in a blender until smooth. Add vanilla. Blend again. Melt chocolate. Add chocolate to tofu in blender and blend until thoroughly mixed. Pour into pie crust. Refrigerate 1 – 2 hours. May top with sliced strawberries and chopped walnuts if desired.

Source: from Mandy and her source, unknown by me

I HAVE MADE the chocolate pie several times to rave reviews from guests and the husband and teenage son, who likely would not have tried this had they heard the word “tofu.” This pie is super simple to make and delicious.

Make certain you purchase soft silken tofu, not firm, if you make these recipes. I have not made the pumpkin pie, but can vouch that it tastes just like regular pumpkin pie and was especially delicious with pumpkin from Mandy’s garden.

Note that I shopped at two different grocery stores here in Faribault during the last several days for soft silken tofu without success. The one Faribault grocery store where I’ve purchased tofu in the past was out of the soft variety. The other store never carries it, nor do two other grocery stores in town. My point: Plan ahead.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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24 Responses to “A healthier version of your typical Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, plus chocolate”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    I love tofu and use the firm type in all my stir fry dinners. Slices of the extra firm can be prepared “blackened” and are, also, yummy! Great post!!!

  2. Danny Says:

    The tofu sounds like a wonderful addition to give it that “healthier” twist – looks soooo good 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Absolutely and I cannot taste any difference. Believe me, because I’d eaten tofu only once prior to these pies and that was in soup.

      • Danny Says:

        I love tofu and it definitely a great way to add creaminess 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        What are some other common (easy) uses for tofu in recipes? I totally really know nothing about this food product.

      • Danny Says:

        Cubing firm tofu and frying it up is easy and you can serve it with Asian noodles. Seasoning it with a little soy sauce and lemon, top with scallions and even cooked shrimp and you’ve got a great dish. It’s more textural to me than anything so it’s very flexible to use.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        I may have to try this. I looked all over my community today (four grocery stores) for soft silken tofu to make those two Thanksgiving pies. None, anywhere. I am soooooo frustrated. May just use firm tofu as my daughter used firm in the chocolate pie recipe and she said it worked fine. Not being familiar with tofu, I thought I had to follow the recipe exactly and purchase soft.

      • Danny Says:

        Do you have any Asian Grocery stores in your area? They would definitely have silken. I’ve seen silken though in the regular stores as well.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        No Asian stores, and, yes, one of the local grocers has carried the soft tofu. However, next shipment is not due in until Wednesday, too late for me. That is if the soft silken comes in the shipment. I’m just going to use firm in the chocolate pie and have found an alternative pumpkin pie recipe, without the tofu.

  3. I think I’ll try the chocolate pie. That is, if I can find the right tofu in my town.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I promise, if you love chocolate like I do, you will love this pie. Good luck finding the tofu. I’m going to scout for it again today.

  4. Jackie Says:

    I will have to give this a try at some point, sounds interesting, but I’m not on pie duty this year. I especially an interested in the chocolate pie 🙂 Not sure if I’ve ever noticed “Dark” chocolate chips before….I’ll have to look for them when I go buy my turkey today 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I cannot rave enough about that chocolate cream pie. It is to die for and probably the simplest dessert I’ve ever made. I bought Nestle Dark Chocolate Morsels (chips). I never knew there were “dark” chocolate chips either until Mandy informed me.

  5. Tara Says:

    That sounds yummy! I am sad I will miss it.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      What? I thought you guys were going to be at Thanksgiving dinner. I haven’t seen you and Andy in what, two weeks? That is way too long.

  6. I so WANT PIE now – YUM!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I now have all the ingredients, that I could find in town, to make my desserts. I went with Plan B for the pumpkin pie as I could not find soft tofu. I will try firm tofu with the chocolate cream pie as my daughter said it worked for her.

  7. I really ought to try these…not sure when I will, though! But I SHOULD!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Do NOT use firm tofu as I did today because I could not find soft tofu in Faribault. It took me about five times as long to prepare the chocolate cream pie as I whirred and whirred and whirred and then whirred the tofu some more in the blender in an attempt to make it creamy. I went with a different pumpkin pie recipe that did not include tofu, but many calories.


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