During the holiday season, there are a few signature items that will come to the mind of almost anyone. Pumpkin pie happens to be one of those items. Whether you enjoy it at Thanksgiving, Christmas, or both, it is on the menu of most households at some point towards the end of each year. My family always enjoys pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but this year I decided to shake things up and serve this delicious, healthier bread instead.
As much as I love a traditional pumpkin pie at the holidays, I also love to try new, cleaner items inspired by the flavors I already know and love. Luckily, cans of organic puree are very cost effective this time of year, allowing me to get rather creative and try some fun, pumpkin-centric dishes. Not just limited to desserts, pumpkin has found its way into my soup, pasta sauce, Greek yogurt, and morning oatmeal. Whether savory or sweet, I love me some good ole pumpkin. But you don’t need to be pumpkin’s #1 fan to love this bread. Other than the traditional pie, it really doesn’t get much more classic than this moist, sweet loaf of pumpkin bread.
Just like the tried and true methods of traditional pie recipes, this bread is infused with the flavors of warm fall spices and is perfect for the chilliest time of year. But besides being chilly outside it is also the busiest time of year. So if you find yourself strapped for time (who doesn’t), this recipe will be your best friend. In fact, it should be the spokesman for all quick breads, as it truly requires minimal time and energy. Simply combine dry ingredients, add wet ingredients, mix, and bake. The easiest snack, brunch treat, or dessert to have on hand, especially for those unexpected guests who suddenly drop on by. If you double the recipe, you can easily have an extra loaf to give as a gift at Christmas, or you can make individual muffins to place on the kids table for easy holiday snacking.
With all of the good qualities this bread already possesses, it’s hard to believe that it is also clean and works perfectly into the meal plans of those living a healthy lifestyle. Unlike traditional recipes, this pumpkin bread does not have hidden, unhealthy fats or loads of processed white sugar. Instead, it uses minimally processed Sucanat to satisfy sweet tooth’s while cutting the amount of sweetener needed from a whopping 1½ cups (on average), all the way down to just ¾ cup. By not overloading this bread with sugar, it keeps calories low and helps to mitigate the rapid spike and fall of blood sugar levels, which can cause you to crave more sugary foods or feel sluggish after eating them.
But just as it is important to remove unhealthy items from a recipe to make it better, it is also important to add back in the proper nutrition the recipe was initially lacking. To do this, I started by packing in as much pumpkin as I could. Doing so provides moisture for very few calories (only 30 per cup) and less fat, while still creating a tender texture. The addition of pumpkin also adds a good amount of beneficial nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is particularly important, as it is an antioxidant responsible for fighting harmful inflammation that’s known to cause problems as small as wrinkles or as serious as chronic disease.
Once I had added enough pumpkin for flavor and nutrition, I moved on to the flour. Most recipes use all-purpose, which is heavily processed and contains less nutrients as a result. I opted for white whole-wheat flour, as it provides more nutritional value without altering the taste too much. In fact, add in the final quality of classic pumpkin bread, the rich, warm spices, and I bet you won’t even be able to detect the healthy tweaks. The molasses-like flavor profile of Sucanat complements the spices beautifully, making for a delicious, healthy bread sure to be a success at any holiday function!
Pumpkin Pie Bread
- Olive Oil Cooking Spray
- 1¾ cups White Whole-Wheat Flour
- ¾ cup Sucanat
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
- ¾ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- ½ tsp. Ground Ginger
- ½ tsp. Sea Salt
- 1 Large Egg
- 2 Large Egg Whites
- 1 cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
- ½ cup Whole Milk
- ¼ cup Olive Oil
- Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a 9 x 5 inch bread pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, Sucanat, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. In a separate large bowl, lightly whisk the egg and egg whites. Add in the pumpkin puree, milk, and oil, whisking until combined.
- Add the contents of the second bowl (wet ingredients) to the contents of the first bowl (dry ingredients) and stir gently until the flour is moistened. Transfer contents to the prepared pan and spread out smoothly.
- Bake bread in the center of the oven for 50 minutes, or until the top and edges have browned and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut in to 12 slices to serve. Keep at room temperature in an airtight container for 2 days, refrigerated for 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month.