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Pumpkin Pie Is Only 3 Percent Pumpkin

With my holiday plans all set to go, I just wondering, what actually constitutes a pumpkin pie?

Pumpkin pie often gets a clean bill of health. Indeed, my runners world magazine had an article saying it was okay to eat it because, well it's pumpkin!

And, pumpkin is actually really good for you. Like all vegetables, it's caloric density is very low and it's very high in nutrients.

It's been shown to have numerous health benefits such as regulating blood pressure, reducing the risk of certain types of caner, protecting against asthma and heart disease and decreasing the risk of age related macular degeneration.

Pumpkin is a vegetable, so case closed, right?

Not so fast.

Spoiler alert! There's a whole lot more in pumpkin pie than pumpkin.

So, I took a typical pumpkin pie recipe and ran some numbers in my spreadsheet:

Ingredient Quantity Calories Percent cals
Condensed Milk 14 ounces 1256 36%
2 Eggs 140 4%
Sugar 3/4 cup (150 grams) 600 17%
Flour 1 1/4 cups 568 16%
Butter 1/2 cup 813 23%
Pumpkin Puree 15 ounces 110 3.1%

Well, that's pretty sad. Turns out pumpkin pie is mostly condensed milk which has a ton of sugar added to it, Flour, butter and even more sugar added on for good measure.

The good news is, if you're choosing between pumpkin pie and the donut tray sitting nearby, you might as well go for the donuts if you like them better: it's roughly equally healthy.

What about Applie Pie?

Ingredients measurement Cals Percent
medium apples 8 apples 760 22.06%
sugar 1/2 cup 400 11.61%
butter 2 Tbsp 200 5.81%
flour 1/4 cup 112 3.25%
Flour 2 cups 900 26.12%
Butter 2/3 cup 1073.16 31.15%
Total Calories 3445.16

Here, we see that applie pie contains a higher percentage of apples: 22%! Thats, partly because apples are a bit caloricly denser than pumpkin.

And, we can increase that percentage further by reducing the amount of butter. And, if you really want to make it healthy swap out the sugar for sweetner and the flour for whole wheat flour.

There's been a great deal of controversy over artificial sweeteners. But, at the end of the day, you need to remember, the artificial sweeteners are generally 10 times less dense than sugar, in sweetness normalized terms.

So, even if the sweetener were equally bad as sugar, you're still consuming 10 times less of it and it's therefore at least 10 times less bad for you. If sweetener is 1/2 as bad as sugar, that makes it 20 times less bad than sugar, etc.

Here are a list of substitutions you can make in any baked or flour based recipe, to make it healthier

Ingredients Technique
Flour Whole wheat flour or Oat flour
Sugar Sweetener (Stevia, Splenda, etc)
Sugar Mashed Bananas
Eggs Flaxseeds
Milk Soymilk, Almond milk

For oat flour, if you can't find it in the grocery store, you can always make your own at home in a high speed blender. Oat flour is great for making pancakes too.

Generally speaking, any baked good is going to be primarily: Sugar, Flour, Butter and some eggs. You can cut down the butter but it'll still be mostly flour. So, feel free to modify the recipes you encounter, making the above substitutions and enjoy it for what it's worth.




Kale.World is all about nutritional density – all our findings are normalized on a per calorie basis, making it easier to compare various foods.