Posted by guest blogger, Kia Guarino
A few weeks ago, my annual fall craving for everything pumpkin kicked into full swing. I found and bought a big can of pumpkin puree at Whole Foods with grand plans…and let it sit. Finally, after staring at it wistfully for a few weeks, I decided to make pumpkin bread today.
After conducting a general Google search on “pumpkin bread recipes,” I figured out a consistent list of ingredients and decided to do something a little different: make it as healthy and eco-friendly as possible.
Two main points that I kept in mind: everything in moderation and natural is always better than processed!
1 cup (organic) pumpkin puree
½ cup organic butter (melted)
1 cup organic cane sugar
2 free-range grass-fed chicken eggs
1½ cups locally grown pesticide-free whole wheat flower
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
Having already purchased non-organic pumpkin puree, I let this one slide. In the future I will definitely use organic instead. Either way, pumpkins are full of natural health benefits. Like carrots, the orange color indicates that it is an excellent source of beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant and has been shown to help prevent certain cancers.
One thing Americans need to learn is to not be afraid to use butter. The original recipe calls for ½ cup of vegetable oil, but I decided to use organic butter instead. Many vegetable oils on the market are made from genetically modified plants and go through extraction processes that can leave behind chemical solvent residues. You can use sunflower or safflower oils if they’re organic and cold pressed, but quite frankly, butter tastes better.
Refined white sugar has had all the minerals, vitamins and other benefits of natural cane removed. In a time when immune system strength is particularly important (to battle swine flu!), it is important to avoid refined sugar, which can lower the immune system and feed bacteria. I decided to use organic evaporated cane juice instead, since it does not undergo the same processing as refined white sugar and therefore maintains its natural calcium, iron and potassium.
Although they appear to be identical products, free-range eggs are much higher in Omega-3 than the factory farmed equivalent. There is also a significant difference between what chickens are fed in factories compared with those that are free-range grass-fed. These differences are then transferred to the egg. Plus, free-range just tastes better.
As with processed white sugars, white flour is stripped of most of its natural nutrients and usually bleached. You can buy unbleached flours, but they are still missing the essential nutrients, including fiber. Using whole wheat makes the pleasure of pumpkin bread a little less guilty and is overall much healthier. Using locally grown flour is important on a much larger scale for long-term sustainability. While this might be hard to do, whenever you can buy local, do it! King Arthur flour is a good alternative since they are employee-owned and high quality.
The spices used in pumpkin bread and in many fall favorites (cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) also have many natural health benefits. Cinnamon and nutmeg have been known to help with stomach and digestive issues and clove with pain management. Cinnamon and clove also have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
1 Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease a 9×5 baking dish.
2 In a large bowl, mix the pumpkin puree, melted butter, sugar and eggs.
3 In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, then combine with the other ingredients. Mix slowly.
3 Pour into a well-buttered 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes to an hour until a thin skewer poked in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool.
This recipe makes one moist and delicious loaf!