Do you have a newly-diagnosed diabetic at your house this Thanksgiving, or simply a dieter watching those carbs?
It's hard to balance the needs of such guests against the imperious insistence of the rest of the crowd that every last traditional aspect of the holiday meal be honored - from the turkey to the dressing, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pumpkin and pecan pies.
What is a conscientious cook to do?
Karen Tyndall, a dietitian at Wood County Hospital, has the solution - at least when it comes to dessert.
"When I do my Diabetes Interest Groups, I just search different Websites for recipes" to share with group members.
The theme for last week's group session was "Healthy Baking with Splenda," the sugar substitute that has practically revolutionized baking for those unable or unwilling to consume very much sugar.
The centerpiece of the demonstration was her light crustless pumpkin pie.
The 32 group members present watched Tyndall's pie-making demonstration with interest and then tasted the results.
"Everybody that tried it really liked it. It actually bakes like a pumpkin pie," with the filling even likely to crack if the pie isn't whipped out of the oven quite rapidly enough. "It looks exactly like a pumpkin pie and the flavor doesn't shout 'Splenda!'"
For the same program Tyndall made cut-out sugar cookies, in anticipation of Christmas baking, as well as a batch of cupcakes.
All three were a success, but the pumpkin pie headed most people's lists.
Tyndall said she just discovered the recipe a few weeks ago on a Website called www.recipezaar.com
"It's really easy to make it" and delightfully healthy, with only 35 calories, a miniscule 0.2 grams of total fat and 6.5 grams of total carbs per slice.
"At Thanksgiving, I like to have a little piece of pumpkin and apple pie, both. So with this recipe you don't have to feel guilty."
Tyndall, a Youngstown State University graduate with a B.S. in Food and Dietetics, started working as a dietitian at Wood County Hospital in September 2001, after her husband's job with Chrysler brought them to this area.
At the hospital she teaches the diabetes education classes, does outpatient diabetes services and plenty of one-on-one work.
Earlier this week she met with a 4-year-old "who had issues with food texture - a picky eater." She and the other dietitians also work with many people who have food allergies.
But these days, the diabetes area "keeps us busy, unfortunately."
Currently, there are 24 million people with diabetes in the U.S., "though not everyone knows they have it."
The Diabetes Interest Group at the hospital meets the second Thursday of every month, September to April. Discussion ranges from the medical to the emotional aspects and topics earlier this fall have included "Menu Ideas Using Foods from Local Farmers' Markets" and "Let's Make Soup."
"Next month it's a grocery store tour," which is already full.
As Tyndall told her group last week, people with diabetes or weight problems are still allowed to find joy in life - and certainly Thanksgiving.
"It's a holiday. You need to enjoy yourself. You probably won't be perfect," but that's okay.
"I probably would watch how many carbohydrates you serve at the meal." Instead of mashed potatoes, corn and stuffing, all three, she might substitute green beans almondine (not green bean and mushroom soup casserole) and a salad for one or more of the above.
"Half your plate should be your carbohydrates or your starches, one quarter protein, and one quarter of your plate vegetable. That's a good rule to follow."
The recipe for the crustless pumpkin pie offered today is the version taken from recipezaar.
"It calls for you to add your cloves, ginger and cinnamon separately. I actually used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice instead," said Tyndall, "I think it tasted better."
She also leaves out the salt.
And don't fret about the consistency.
"It's not like this is a pie where you can slice it and put it on a plate. It's easier to scoop out. You might want to use a dessert bowl or parfait cup" for serving, "with a dollop of whipped topping on each."
Tyndall said it's not necessary to buy the sugar-free frozen whipped topping. "I think the 'lite' tastes better than the sugar-free, and they're about the same in nutritional content."
Light crustless pumpkin pie
1 hour, 10 minute prep.
1 pie serves eight
3/4 cup Splenda granular
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix, just pure canned pumpkin)
1 cup skim milk
1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. In a small bowl, combine Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt.
3. In a separate large bowl, beat egg whites well.
4. Stir sugar mixture into the large bowl.
5. Stir in the can of pumpkin.
6. Slowly stir in skim milk.
7. Stir well, until all ingredients are uniformly mixed.
8. Pour into a 9-inch round pie plate that has been lightly coated with nonstick cooking spray.
9. Bake at 425°F for twelve to fifteen minutes.
10. Reduce temperature to 350°F.
11. Bake pie an additional 30-35 minutes at 350°F.
12. Remove pie from oven and cool.
13. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.
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