Lighten Up the Sweets This Thanksgiving!

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Most of us feel that desserts should be decadent—that cutting the fat and calories in a three-layer cake isn’t worth the effort. Dessert is definitely one of the things in life that should be anticipated! These recipes are every bit as indulgent as their high-fat counterparts; they just won’t blow your calorie budget.

No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake



  • ¾ cup finely crushed graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (or the equivalent of a sugar substitute)


  • 1 (.25 ounce) envelope unflavored gelatin
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ (8 ounce) container light cream cheese
  • 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons sugar  (or the equivalent of a sugar substitute)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed (optional)
  • Ground cinnamon, chopped toasted pecans, and/or pomegranate seeds (optional; see Tips) (optional)


To prepare graham cracker crust

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, canola oil, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Mix well. Spread evenly in bottom of an 8- or 9-inch springform pan; press firmly onto bottom.
  2. Bake for 5 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

To prepare cheesecake

  1. In a small saucepan, stir together gelatin and the water; let stand for 5 minutes to soften. Cook and stir over low heat until gelatin dissolves; set aside to cool slightly.
  2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add pumpkin, sugar, the 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the gelatin mixture; beat until well mixed. Fold in the three-quarters container of dessert topping. Spread mixture into crust in springform pan. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 24 hours or until set.
  3. Using a thin metal spatula or table knife, loosen the cheesecake from the side of the springform pan. If desired, use a wide spatula to remove cheesecake from bottom of pan and place on a serving plate. Cut into wedges to serve. If desired, top with additional whipped topping. If desired, garnish with additional cinnamon, chopped pecans, and/or pomegranate seeds.

For Sugar Substitutes

  • Follow package directions to use product amount equivalent to 2 tablespoons sugar for both crust and filling. PER SERVING WITH SUBSTITUTE: same as below, except 136 cal., 11 g carbo.

To remove the seeds from a pomegranate

  • Cut the pomegranate in half through the skin. Remove the peel and break the fruit into sections. Then separate the seeds from the membrane.

To toast nuts

  • Spread in a shallow baking pan lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 350°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden, shaking pan once or twice.

Serves 14. Each serving contains Calories 150, Fat 8 g, Fiber 1 g, Carbohydrates 14 g, Protein 5 g, Cholesterol 11 mg, Sodium 144 mg. Per serving using the sugar substitute, same except Calories 136, and Carbohydrates 11 g.

Lighter Pecan Tartlets Dough



  • ¾ cup whole-wheat pastry flour
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, (Neufchatel), softened
  • ¼ cup canola oil


  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


To prepare dough

  1. Mix whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, butter, cream cheese and oil in a large bowl with a wooden spoon just until a coherent dough forms. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to reduce its stickiness.
  2. Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 350F.
  3. Roll the dough (it will be soft) into a 15-inch log. Cut the log in half, then cut each half into quarters, then cut the quarters into thirds to yield 24 equal portions, about 1 tablespoon each. Press each piece of dough into a mini muffin cup, making a well in the center and pressing the dough up the sides of the tin to form a tartlet shell.

To prepare filling

  1. Combine egg, pecans, brown sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl. Divide the filling evenly among the 24 tartlet shells.
  2. Bake the tartlets for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and bake until the filling is puffed and the crust is lightly golden, 10 to 12 minutes more. Let cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Turn the tartlets out and let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Make Ahead Tip: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Serves 24. Each serving contains Calories 150, Fat 11 g, Fiber 1 g, Carbohydrates 12 g, Protein 2 g, Cholesterol 22 mg, Sodium 22 mg.

Apple Crumble Pie, (shhhh with a hint of Coconut)



  • ½ cup raw almonds
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • ¾ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Crumb Topping:

  • ¾ cup oats
  • ¼ cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons Earth Balance, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Get out a 9-inch pie pan, and set aside.
  2. Add raw almonds, rolled oats, and flour to a food processor, and grind to a powder. Add in the shredded coconut, the coconut oil, and the maple syrup, and pulse until well blended.
  3. Transfer mixture to the 9-inch pan, and press into an even thickness on the sides and bottom of the pan. Set aside.
  4. In a medium-sized bowl, add the apple slices, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix well, and fill the pie pan.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and melted Earth Balance. Use a fork to mix well.
  6. Sprinkle the topping over the apples evenly. Bake for 60 minutes or until the apples are soft and juicy.

Serves 8. Each serving contains Calories 341, Fat 17.7 g, Fiber 6 g, Carbohydrates 43.5 g, Protein 5 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 143 mg.

Almond Butter-Quinoa “Blondies”


  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup smooth or crunchy natural almond butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup quinoa flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch-square baking pan with parchment paper (or foil), allowing it to slightly overhang opposite ends. Coat with cooking spray.
  2. Beat butter and almond butter in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, brown sugar and vanilla. Whisk quinoa flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Mix the flour mixture into the wet ingredients until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs on it, 25 to 35 minutes. Do not overbake. Let cool in the pan for 45 minutes. Using the parchment (or foil), lift the whole panful out and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 24 squares. Let cool completely before storing.

Look for quinoa flour in the baking section or near gluten-free flours in natural foods stores.

Serves 24. Each serving contains Calories 147, Fat 9 g, Fiber 2 g, Carbohydrates 15 g, Protein 3 g, Cholesterol 21 mg, Sodium 73 mg.