The Food Network threw down the gauntlet, pitting the two popular Thanksgiving desserts in a head-to-head battle for superiority.

“With both having single pie crusts and packed with good-for-you ingredients, the competition is fierce,” notes the network’s HealthyEats web page (www.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats). Here’s the breakdown:

Pumpkin Pie

Pros: The USDA says we should all be eating two cups of orange veggies each week, which provides beta-carotene to helps to regulate our immune system and maintain good vision. The brilliant orange color also provides the antioxidants vitamin A and lutein.

Cons:

Fatty ingredients like traditional pastry crust, butter, cream cheese, half-and-half, or shortening can sabotage the nutritional value, the Food Network said. The sugar from canned pumpkin pie filling and toppings can also make a single slice close to 500 calories.

Pecan Pie

Pros: The nutrition here comes solely from the nuts. Pecans provide manganese, an essential mineral that help with blood clotting and helps form bones, connective tissue, and sex hormones. They’re also a good source of thiamin and copper. Studies have found that pecans can help reduce your bad (LDL) cholesterol and total cholesterol.

Cons: The filling is traditionally made with corn syrup or brown sugar, and the crust can be a big source of saturated fat. And although pecans have many healthy attributes, too many can contribute to high calories and fat in the pie.

Not a clear winner here. The global media and fitness website www.popsugar.com has the stats comparing a slice of each pie.

Calories: 316 pumpkin to 503 pecan; total fat (g): 14 pumpkin, 27 pecan; carbs (g): 40 pumpkin, 63 pecan; fiber (g): 3 pumpkin, 4.3 pecan; sugar (g): 21 pumpkin, 31 pecan; protein (g): 7 pumpkin, 6 pecan.

Excepting the higher fiber content (no doubt from the pecans), looks like pumpkin wins this round.

Chowhound.com, a website for “food enthusiasts,” put the two delicious contenders in the ring (or pie plate) for a three-round battle.

Round 1: Personal Traditions — Tie!

“It’s subjective,” wrote Emily Murawski on the website. “We’ll have to call this round a tie. I shouldn’t let my own personal leanings decide which pie wins Thanksgiving. There are all kinds of traditions out there, and so I shouldn’t deem my own to be best, solely because it’s familiar.

“For example, my friend from Mississippi thinks sweet potato pie is the Thanksgiving pie. Even though that sounds like a crazy bunch of nonsense to me, I respect her tradition, and truly, I wouldn’t turn down a slice of sweet potato pie any other day.”

Round 2: Here First – Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie in its modern form came about in the 1700s, while pecan pie came later, in the 1800s at the earliest.

Round 3: Dessert-ier – Pecan Pie

“For my ruling of which pie is the dessert-ier option, I’m going to have to go with big, bad pecan pie,” wrote Murawski, who compared the nutritional value of both and determined pumpkin pie “is nearly a vegetable!”

Murawski’s ranking demanded a tie-breaker, and for that, she turned to “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving,” the Emmy-winning holiday favorite. Her reasoning concerned the cartoon’s dinner scene, when the gang confronts Charlie Brown’s botched attempt at Thanksgiving dinner.

Remember which pie Peppermint Patty laments missing? Pumpkin pie, of course.

“This is the quintessential Thanksgiving pie, at least according to Charlie Brown’s social circle — not a peep about pecan,” Murawski wrote. “And so, pumpkin pie wins this one.”

This column, I hope, has been a humorous look at the two popular deserts. I would be remiss, health-wise, if I didn’t remind us that the Calorie Control Council says the typical American consumes 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day.

But hey, it’s Thanksgiving. Enjoy your dinner, and I’ll have a slice of both.

Comments and suggestions are always welcome. Call Dan Mearns at 941-893-9692 or email danmearns@gmail.com.

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