9.29.2013

On My Plate: Pumpkin Is Good!













Fall is the season of all-things-pumpkin and I LOVE it. Not just because pumpkins are beautiful and festive, and not just because it tastes delicious in just about all forms, but also because pumpkin is actually GOOD for you.  Pureed pumpkin is very low in calories (40 calories for a ½ cup) and very rich in fiber (which helps keep you full and satisfied), how can you go wrong? Pumpkin is one of those amazing foods you should seek out when you’re trying to boost the flavor of your food and drinks without adding ridiculous amounts of calories and fat. But ya know what’s funny? As much as people LOVE pumpkin-flavored-this and pumpkin-flavored-that, there’s always a backlash from those who are not fans of the autumnal super squash. To be fair there truly is a saturation of pumpkin these days, and most of the time it’s not even REAL pumpkin in all of these foods and drinks. Remember my store-bought pumpkin latte disaster a few weeks ago?

But I’m here to tell you, you can use pumpkin in both sweet and savory recipes that will both help you enjoy the many health benefits of pumpkin and get your kicks out of your favorite fall treats. Take pumpkin bread, for example. If you get a slice of the standard pumpkin bread at coffee shops and bakeries, you’re looking at between 350-400 calories per SLICE. Now for me, that’s a whole meal, people. So, I don’t waste my calories or money on such things. Don’t get me wrong, they taste delicious, but I am a bit of a food snob these days since I’ve been more careful about what foods I allow into my body. And why oh why would I pay money for a piece of bread that is full of bad ingredients when I could make a better, healthier version at home – and make an entire loaf for less than what it costs to buy just one slice that won’t leave me feeling full or satiated? Just asking! So behold, here is my Healthy Pumpkin Bread recipe that I have modified from this awesome foodie. At approximately 140 calories per slice, my version of this bread is free of oil, butter and refined sugar. Plus, add in the fiber from the applesauce, pumpkin and whole-wheat flour and BAM, a match made in pumpkin Heaven. My friends, family, and co-workers 100% approve of this awesome and healthy fall bread recipe – and you will, too! Even if you despise the influx of pumpkin in the fall. Plus, there’s a little something extra in this bread that will have chocolate lovers clamoring for a slice! Enjoy.

Healthy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread – Yield 14 slices


Ingredients
•    1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (we used homemade)
•    1/2 cup honey
•    4 egg whites
•    1 cup pumpkin purée
•    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•    1/4 teaspoon salt
•    1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
•    1/2 teaspoon ginger
•    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
•    1/4 teaspoon allspice
•    1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
•    1 teaspoon baking soda
•    1/4 cup hot water
•    1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips that have been dusted with some whole wheat flour (this helps the chips to float in the mixture instead of sink to the bottom)

Instructions

1.    Preheat oven to 325 degrees and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
2.    In a large bowl, beat applesauce and honey together. Add egg whites, and beat well.
3.    Stir in pumpkin purée and vanilla, then the salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. Stir in flour, just until combined.
4.    Add baking soda to hot water, stir to mix, and then mix briefly into batter until it is evenly distributed. Mix in chocolate chips. Spread batter into the greased loaf pan.
5.    Bake for 60 to 65 minutes. Be sure to check that the bread is done baking by inserting a toothpick or knife in the top. It should come out clean. Let the bread cool in the pan, and then transfer it to a wire rack to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.































Food: In the pig roast blog, I mentioned that my family and I went apple picking and scored 27 lbs of apples at a great price. In addition to all of the awesome things we made (apple chips, apple bread, sweet potato & apple casserole, dehydrated apple chips and bits, spiced apple quinoa, homemade applesauce), I made homemade Apple Pie Larabars. Oh my GOODNESS. Trust me, you want to make these. They really couldn’t have been easier, especially if you have a food processor. I got my recipe from these folks and modified it slightly. My recipe is below and it is SO good. I got 9 bars out of my recipe and I’ve been allowing myself to eat one a day in the afternoon for a snack. The nuts and fruits inside will fill you up and give you energy – for less than 200 calories a bar! Enjoy.

Ingredients:

1½ cups walnuts

1 cup dried apples

4 prunes
2 TBS dried cranberries

¼ tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. ginger

1/8 tsp. salt

Instructions
1.    In a food processor, combine all the ingredients and chop them until a paste is formed.  Don’t chop them so much that you can’t see little bits of the walnuts and fruit.
2.    Transfer the mixture to a 7 x 7 inch or 8 x 8 pan lined with wax paper.  Press down evenly.
3.    Refrigerate for at least two hours and then cut it into 8 bars.
4.    Store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
































Homestead: Last year, right before wintertime, The Hubs and I purchased half-a-cord of firewood from a family friend. We were excited to use our new fireplace for the first time in our new home. The wood was already split for us and ready to go, which was so nice. I can’t tell you how many warm, glowing fires we’ve had since. Luckily, we still have about half of the half-cord left, so as the cooler weather creeps in I’m looking forward to all of the fires in our future. You may be surprised to learn, however, that lots of folks don’t know much about what kind of wood is best to burn, or how long the burn time is. Also, woods have different “smoking” points, meaning that some wood smokes more as it burns. When you’ve got an indoor fireplace, those little tidbits of info matter. So, the folks over at The Homestead Survival have put together this nifty chart that tells you about different types of wood, shows you pictures, and even provides descriptions of each (including how long the wood should last, burn-time, how they smell when they burn, etc).  So, click here and check it out!

AND – did you know that there are several ways to get your fire started? You can use fire starters, sure, but you can also be a little “greener” and use other household items you’re sure to have around. Save your dryer lint – it sparks right up when you light it and stays lit long enough to get your kindling started. You can also rub some Vaseline on a tissue and light that under your logs. And if you happen to have Doritos at home – put some of those under the wood and light those on fire instead of eating them. Those suckers will help give you a great fire. Also, kinda makes you wonder what chemicals they’re made out of that helps them light on fire. You don’t have that problem with kale chips – just sayin!  Anyway, stay warm out there and enjoy the chillier weather, friends.

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