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Happy Thanksgiving for those in America! Nutripol is about to be on a two week break (I’m going off the grid in Thailand!), but I thought I’d write another holiday-themed Think About It to tide you over until December. Learn all about why pumpkin pie is a fairly decent choice as far as dessert goes, as well as a few thoughts on some nutritional lessons I've learned from my time in Australia.
As a disclaimer, this is not an article telling you to avoid pumpkin pie this Turkey Day! I absolutely adore pumpkin pie, and a little piece of me is broken inside knowing that I’m not going to get any this time around. However, I do think that it’s important to be aware of what you’re eating and how it affects your body, especially if you’re going to be eating copious amounts of it (as I usually am around this time of year).
The nutritional contents of pumpkin pie can actually vary substantially depending on the baker, and a lot of the calories and fat in this dessert are contingent on whether or not you choose to enjoy it with the crust and whipped cream on top. For the purpose of this article I’m going to use the classic version (with crust and whipped cream, because why would you ever want to leave those out?).
One serving, or roughly ⅛ of the pie, comes in at 350 calories, or ~18% of the FDA’s daily recommended value. It also has 21 grams of sugar (most of which is added sugar), which is over 40% of the advised daily limit. Finally, to top off the trifecta of the most-requested nutritional information, one piece of this pie has 20 grams of fat (or 31% of the FDA’s value, although is a bit of an overshoot in my opinion).
In all honesty, these numbers are pretty standard for a dessert. Like I mentioned before, the majority of the fat and calorie content is drawn from the crust and the whipped topping, not the pie itself. The creamy nature of the filling comes primarily from pumpkin, evaporated milk, and eggs -- none of which are particularly energy-dense foods. What really gives people the “pumpkin-pie” sensation is the combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves (or the store-bought pumpkin pie spice if you’re lazy, like me).
The pie crust itself is typically made up of shortening and flour. Shortening is essentially pure fat (read my article about the history of Crisco if you’re curious), but it’s what gives pastries and crusts that “flaky” texture that we all enjoy so much. The topping is a similar story -- it’s made from whipped cream, which is by definition is about 30% milk fat.
Because of this, there are a million different variations of “lighter” pumpkin pies that alter or skip the crust and toppings altogether (here’s one, if you’re interested). I talk about some of these below, but in my personal opinion it’s better to have a small slice of the real thing than to have a larger portion of a sub-par pie. After all, Thanksgiving only comes around once a year -- enjoy it!
Ways to Think About It:
Disclaimer: I am not a licensed nutritionist nor a registered dietician. The opinions expressed in this article are my own, and each individual is ultimately responsible for his/her dietary and nutrition practices. Please consult a physician before starting a new dietary program.