Healthy Pumpkin Pie

My weight loss journey has made me acutely aware of how many LDS events involve treats and sweets! I try to avoid Activity Days ideas that involve sugar or junk food without a purpose (and have even found that the girls are just as excited about watermelon for refreshments as they might be about cookies)!

This Activity Days idea is a great way to teach some baking skills, while also emphasizing that healthy foods can still be delicious.

Category: Developing Talents, Learning and Living the Gospel

Duration: 1 session

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Supplies: This is per pie. You can choose to make just one together and try it, or make one for each girl to take home. Of course you only need one blender no matter how many you are making.
  • high powered blender or food processor
  • pie pan
  • bowl
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 Tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • Non-stick spray or parchment paper
  • Oven
  • Printed copies of the nutrition labels at the bottom of this page.
  • (Optional) copies of the recipe for them to take home
Preparation:
  • Read the Word of Wisdom and ponder what it means to you during the holidays. Activity Day kids are at the age where they don’t think twice about consuming lots of treats during Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, yet as they grow and learn more about how unhealthy foods affect them, they will take comfort in knowing that there are healthier alternatives to some of the rich desserts they eat during the holiday season. Tying this learning in with the Word of Wisdom is great opportunity to apply a gospel principle to their lives!
Activity:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line or spray the pie pan.
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2. Place 1/2 cup of dates, all the flour, and all the pecans in a food processor. Put the rest of the dates in a bowl of water to soak. Pulse the stuff in the food processor until crumbly. Drizzle in water (a little more than 1 tablespoon) if needed until mixture comes together in a ball (some dates are much more moist than others). Press evenly into the bottom and up the edges of the prepared pan.
 –
3. To make the filling, drain dates from soaking liquid and squeeze out any excess water. Place in the food processor. Add pumpkin purée, milk, spice and flaxseed meal. Purée until well combined and creamy. Pour mixture into crust. Bake until filling browns slightly and is set completely along the edges, about 35 minutes.
 –
4. While the pumpkin pie is baking, now is your chance to talk about the Word of Wisdom. Of course you should include any of your thoughts you pondered above. Here are the questions/topics I asked and discussed when doing this activity:
  • What are some healthy things we eat during the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Easter holidays?
  • What are some unhealthy things we eat during these holidays?
  • Why are they unhealthy? How does it affect our bodies?
  • Why are some sweet things healthy, while some are unhealthy?
  • What does the Word of Wisdom say about what foods are healthiest for us? (Read D&C 89:10-12, 14, 16, explain that “herbs” means vegetables, “fruit” obviously means fruit, and talk about several different types of grains)
  • Explain that in Joseph Smith’s time, there weren’t many processed foods like refined sugar and flour, but now these are abundant in our society. These things have been stripped of so many of their nutrients and fiber, that they no longer count as “wholesome.” Instead we should strive for as many whole foods as possible.

5. Show the girls the printed nutrition labels (found at the bottom of this page). Have them compare the nutritional value of dates vs. refined sugar, pecans vs. butter, white flour vs. whole wheat flour, and eggs v flaxseeds. Explain that the dates, pecans, and whole wheat flour were used in our “healthy recipe” today, while the other ones are found in a normal pumpkin pie recipe. Which is healthier? Talk about the health benefits of fiber, unsaturated fats, and other nutrients. Point out that this pumpkin pie recipe has fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts in it – lots of healthy stuff! (Notes: If a nutrient is not present on the nutritional label, that means that nutrient is not present in that food, such as fiber being missing from the egg label. Also, the iron content of the white flour is higher than the whole wheat flour only because it has been artificially increased by an enrichment process.)

6. Discuss what goals the girls might make during this holiday season. (Avoid the use of the phrase “moderation in all things” because, if you think about it, we really don’t follow that principle. Like we don’t practice moderation in drinking or illegal drugs.) Have them decide for themselves what they could do to make their holidays healthier. Encourage them to think of ways to help others be healthier too (like, instead of baking Christmas cookies as gifts, make a handmade ornament for someone). You might even want to have them write down these resolutions.

7. By now your pie should be about done! You are supposed to wait a few hours before cutting it so it can fully set, but for at least one of the pies you will want to ignore that and dish out samples! It will be a little mushy but still taste great. Most won’t be able to tell much difference between this and an unhealthy pie, but if you have a picky eater who complains about the taste, reply with something like, “it sounds like this healthy choice isn’t for you, but I bet you can think of some other healthy things you can do during the holidays instead.”

More Ideas:
  • During the holidays, Costco has big containers of juicy dates but you will need to take out the pits yourself.
  • Looks for a Whole Foods, Sprouts, or other natural foods market for an alternative source for dates.
  • Flax seeds are found at nearly every grocery store now, but are easiest to find at these natural foods stores as well.
  • Do a “blind taste test” between this pie and a regular one.

Nutrition Facts: (I realize that the serving sizes don’t match up with dates v sugar or pecans v butter, but the stark difference in nutrients, fiber, and good and bad fats is what is important here – which is still illustrated even with the difference in servings.)

Dates

Sugar 

Pecans

Butter

White (Refined) Flour

Whole Wheat Flour

Eggs

Flax Seeds

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