Try a healthier version of pumpkin spice brownies.
Henry Ford Health System
Recently, a good friend of mine was remarking on the flood of pumpkin spice items being sold and it’s gone way beyond muffins and lattes. Pumpkin spice cream cheese, hummus, peanut butter, marshmallows, kale chips, and cough drops are just a small handful of items to try.
Since I quite like this fall-favorite flavor combination, I decided to jump on the band wagon and make a healthier version of pumpkin spice brownies.
Starting with a boxed brownie mix makes this recipe a snap to make. And, with Halloween creeping up, these pumpkin-enhanced brownies are perfect for an after trick-or-treating treat.
In an effort to reduce the calories in this dessert, we used Greek yogurt to replace most of the oil called for on the box directions. A half cup of oil, supplying over 950 calories, was replaced with a ⅓ cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Our yogurt-oil replacement only has 275 calories. And, if you like a gooey brownie, use just one egg instead of two.
The pumpkin swirl mixture features reduced-fat cream cheese, which gave it a rich, cheesecake-like texture. When purchasing canned pumpkin for today’s recipe, don’t mistake it for canned pumpkin pie mix or filling. While the labels look similar, pumpkin pie mix is pre-sweetened and spiced; solid-pack pumpkin puree is 100% pumpkin.
Pumpkin is loaded with carotenoids, such as beta-carotene and lutein, which may protect against chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer, and may help ward off age-related vision loss, such as macular degeneration. Pumpkin also provides a healthy dose of fiber, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and iron.
If you’re looking for ways to use up leftover canned pumpkin, here’s a few ideas:
- Add a few dollops to a warm bowl of oatmeal, with a dash of pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar and toasted pecans.
- Mix some pumpkin with reduced-fat cream cheese and a pinch of cinnamon for a bagel spread.
- When making chili, add a 1/2 to 3/4 cup pumpkin to the pot. The flavor is so mild, no one will notice.
- For a hint of pumpkin flavor, add about a ⅓ cup to most cupcake, muffin, or quick bread batters.
Darlene Zimmerman is a registered dietitian in Henry Ford Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute. For questions about today’s recipe, call 313-972-1920.
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Makes: 16 / Prep time: 20 minutes / Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Vegetable oil cooking spray
3 ounces (6 tablespoons) reduced-fat cream cheese
¼ cup canned 100% pure pumpkin
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 box (18.0-ounce) chocolate brownie mix
2 tablespoons canola oil
⅓ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
¼ cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a 9-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, blend together cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice; mix to combine. In a separate bowl, stir together brownie mix, oil, yogurt, egg, and water until just combined. Pour brownie batter into prepared. Spoon pumpkin mixture by the tablespoonful evenly over batter and cut through brownie batter several times with a knife, creating a marble design. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Allow brownies to cool completely on a wire rack.
Created by Darlene Zimmerman, MS, RD, for Heart Smart and tested by Susan M. Selasky for the Free Press Test Kitchen.
137 calories (26% from fat), 5 grams fat (1 grams sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 31 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 135 mg sodium, 16 mg cholesterol, 12 mg calcium, 1 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 2 starch, ½ fat.