10 ways to reduce fat in your recipes including scrumptious pumpkin pie

Tracy Woolrich's picture
Reduced fat pumpkin pie

Recipes are nothing more that formulas that provide you with directions on how to combine specific ingredients in a certain manner to produce a certain outcome. There is some ability for substitutions to accommodate tastes, allergies or diet restrictions. One of the more difficult substitutions is reducing fat. There is something about it that often produces a meal that is less moist if lacks richness. That is not always the case however. There are many ways you can make substitutions with very little effort and still have a great outcome. Read on and I will even share with you my favorite recipe for reduced fat pumpkin pie. It may not be the same as the one that my grandmother painstakingly made however I am sure she would be proud.

A number of years ago my mother was diagnosed with diabetes and a chronic pancreatic disorder. With this diagnosis came major changes in meal preparations. There would be no more pork. Turkey bacon and sausage became a breakfast staple. Cheese was now always reduced fat or fat free. All gravy was homemade and the fat skimmed off. In time my mother and I have perfected a low fat diet lifestyle that allows for her diet restrictions without anyone feeling deprived.

Here are a few of the more obvious ways to reduce fat in your diet as well without feeling restricted.

Substitute reduced fat versions of cheese, mayonnaise and sour cream. These substitutions do not appear to change the texture or taste very much in most recipes.

Substitute skim milk for whole milk. This is a pretty easy and obvious choice. Evaporated can skim milk works great as well. (I use it in my pie)

It is okay to use reduced fat cream cheese in recipes however do not use fat free in recipes that require heating. It does not melt properly.

Try adding 1 tbsp of all purpose flour to fat-free plain yogurt to keep it smooth during baking. It does seem to help with texture issues.

Choose only extra lean red meats, poultry and fish. If using ground turkey buy turkey breast not just ground turkey that is higher in fat. Remove excess fat from red mean and buy 97% fat free red meat. Remove the skin from all poultry before eating. The same goes for fish.

When using ground meat in a recipe, fry it in a bit of water first which will draw off some of the fat. Drain and blot it dry and voila!

Mash Yukon gold potatoes with fat free chicken stock instead of butter and milk.


Use egg whites or egg substitute to reduce saturated fat and cholesterol.

Use smaller amounts of nuts or butter. Try adding butter (or butter nut) flavorings to your baked goods to give it a flavor boost.

Do not try to substitute reduced fat margarine for shortening in baked recipes. The water content is different and your recipe will surely turn out poor. Better that you use a lesser amount of butter or margarine.

Baking substitutions
Fat makes flour less likely to absorb water allowing for a moist tender baked product. Most ingredients used to replace fat combine with flour however not in the same way. Do not expect the product to come out exactly the same way. You may need to experiment with amounts in order to obtain the desired outcome. The following are the better options.

Substitute for equal amounts of fat .The product will be very moist so you may need to reduce other liquids in recipe
Mashed bananas
Substitute for equal amounts of fat. This of course gives a distinct banana flavor which may not work well with all recipes.
Pureed pumpkin
Substitute for equal amounts of fat, Again this gives a distinct flavor and also will change the color of the food.
Grated zucchini
Substitute for equal amounts of fat. Works well in breads and muffins.
Grated carrots
Substitute for equal amounts of fat. Just like zucchini works well in breads and muffins. I use grated or puree carrots (baby food) in my meatloaf to make it moist without using higher fat meats.
Non-fat yogurt
Substitute for equal amounts of fat .The product will be very moist and you may need to reduce liquid in recipe. This is similar to the applesauce substitution. Don’t forget to add1 tbsp of all purpose flour. That helps with possible texture issues.

Tracy’s reduced fat pumpkin pie
This pie is very easy to prepare. You just mix, pour and bake. Don’t tell anyone it is low fat and I guarantee they will never know!

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or you can substitute Splenda for part or all of this amount)
  • 2 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup egg beaters (equals 2 eggs)
  • 1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin filling)
  • 1 can (12 fl. oz.) Skim evaporated milk
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell. I use whole wheat if I can find it.
  • Non fat whipped cream (optional)

Mix egg beaters and pumpkin puree in large bowl. Add sugar, pumpkin spice and salt. Stir thoroughly. Gradually stir in evaporated milk.

Pour into pie shell.

Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350° F and bake for additional 40 to 45 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 1 - 2 hours. Refrigerate. Top with fat free whipped cream before serving if desired.

I have made a similar recipe as a crust less version in custard cups. Prepare the filling as above.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Place 6-8 custard cups in a large baking dish.
Fill the cups with the pumpkin mixture. Pour hot water in the baking dish around the cups.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until set in the middle.
Remove from the oven, and let cool in the pan.
Remove the cups from the water bath. Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled in the refrigerator.

Take home message
It is possible to reduce fat from your diet and not feel deprived. All it takes is a little imagination and patience. Sometimes you have to experiment until you accomplish what you set out to do.

Reference: Mayo Clinic