Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I'll Have My Pie & Eat It Too!

...with Thanksgiving in my heart!

Many people gain weight through the holiday season as families get together and feast.  In the past you have probably overeaten the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls, and then when it's time for dessert you are completely stuffed.  However, you eat dessert anyway, because it's there.  Plus it's delicious.  Plus it wouldn't feel right somehow if you didn''t indulge in your favorite dessert on the holiday.  It becomes a tradition.  Most Americans probably throw their hands up in dismay the period from Thanksgiving through Christmas intent on starting a healthy program by New Year's Day.  Why wait?  You can still work out and control your portions through the notoriously self-indulgent holiday season.

My advice would be to plan ahead.  Do not think with your stomach.  We have all been through this period of overeating, and then we feel guilty later.  Let's stop learning the hard way (or just not learning at all).

My late Grandmother McSparin (Grandma Mac) was excellent at self-control.  She would always make a huge feast for everyone, with all my Aunts' and my Mother's help of course.  However, when Grandma Mac finally sat down to eat she would just have a tiny portion of each dish she wanted to taste. She was tiny, and she was probably technically underweight for her height.  Still, there is something to learn from her.  If you know you are most excited about dessert, then don't fill up on everything else just because it's there.

First I would rather have a perfect bite of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and stuffing.  Then I skip all the sides that I might have on any given day of the year.  If it isn't my favorite, then I skip it.  I take only a small portion of what I might like the first time around.  I only go back for seconds on the dishes that I really truly crave.  This slows me down long enough to realize that I am already getting full.  Then for dessert I try to stick to a small portion of my top two favorites.  For Thanksgiving it's a sliver of pumpkin pie and a sliver of pecan pie.  For Christmas it's a nice slice of my Mom's homemade pumpkin cake roll.  If all three are present on a holiday, then I skip the pumpkin pie.  (Hey, at least that's something.)

This year I wised up BIG TIME!  I know all I want is just a taste of dessert.  Cutting just a sliver of pie or breaking a cookie in half just looks so "pidiot" (so pious about your diet that everyone thinks you are an idiot).  JK!  In light of this epiphany, I spent the entire afternoon making mini pumpkin pie and mini pecan pie tartlets.  I would love to tell you that I slaved away perfecting these recipes, but I actually got them from Better Homes and Gardens:  Cookies Cookies Cookies Christmas Time Treats.  I tried to find the recipes on their website, but this book is circa 1992 so surprise!  It's not on their website.  I subbed in Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour so my gluten-free hubby could have some dessert.  The tartlets won his coveted seal of approval.  Hubba, hubba!  I'm pretty sure nobody has said hubba, hubba since 1942.  Lol!

Here are the recipes:


  • 1/2 cup margarine or 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 ounces package softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon melted margarine or 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice


In a mixing bowl, beat margarine or butter and cream cheese until thoroughly blended. Stir in flour. Chill the dough for one hour.  Roll rounded-teaspoonsbul of dough into 24 equal balls. Press evenly into the bottom and up the sides of mini-muffin 1 3/4-inch muffin cup non-stick tin.  
In a small mixing bowl, stir ingredients together until mixed well. Fill each pastry with 1 heaping teaspoon of desired filling.

For pecan pie tartlets bake in a 375 degree oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned.  Cool slightly in pans.  Remove tea cakes from pans and cool on wire racks.  Makes 24.

For pumpkin pie tartlets bake in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or until filling is set and crust is lightly browned.  Cool slightly in pans.  Remove tea cakes from pans and cool on wire racks.  Makes 24.

Pecan Pie Tarts per tart:  128 calories (It sure makes me think twice about having a whole slice of pie!)

Pumpkin Pie Tarts per tart:  66 calories

Pssst!  Since I can't have my Mom's pumpkin cake roll this year, I topped the pumpkin pie tartlets with her decadent, homemade cream cheese frosting that she makes for the pumpkin cake roll.  Who says a girl can't have it all!!!!???

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