No tricks from me today.  Only a delicious treat; made with bright orange goodness and interesting “brown stuff” to sweeten your day.

 

Why the “Orange Stuff” is Important (for you)

I remember my mother telling me, “Eat your carrots; they’re good for your eyes.” But, I never heard her say, “Eat your pumpkin pie; it’s, great for your eyes.”   Perhaps, It’s because I gobbled down the slice of pie before she had a chance to coach me (haha).  Or, maybe, she didn’t know that the bright orange squash, formed into a dessert, was loaded with health benefits.

Just like carrots, pumpkin contains beta-carotene, which converts to Vitamin A in the body.

In my parents home, pumpkin pie was served once or twice a year, during holidays.

Now, organic pumpkin puree is a staple in my kitchen.  My fave recipes include, maple-pumpkin cornbread, pumpkin pie protein shakes, and pumpkin butter oatmeal. Yum!  First, I’ll tell you why the orange stuff is important to your health; then I’ll get to the interesting “brown stuff.”

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

Vitamin A: A cup of pumpkin contains more than 200% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin A, which is a essential for eye health and skin.  According to WebMd, vitamin A helps your retina absorb and process light.

Antioxidants: Pumpkin contains, both, vitamin C and A, which are antioxidants that help fight off infections and viruses, and shield your cells from disease producing free radicals.

Also, the vitamin C may help you recover from colds faster.  The antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, help prevent cataracts and may even slow the development of macular degeneration.  Pumpkin is great for the eyes!

Hydration:  Pumpkin is 90% water, which supports hydration.

Fiber:  A half cup of pumpkin contains about 3 grams of fiber, which slows down and helps with digestion.   Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup to your morning oatmeal with a bit of the “brown stuff, aka, Coconut Sugar.

 

Coconut Sugar

Last October, I decided to do a detox. The list of “Foods to Avoid” included table sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.  Yikes, I thought!

But, I could have Coconut Sugar (also referred to as Coconut Palm Sugar)  Hmm, I thought, “What is that?” and “Where do I buy it?”

I discovered that my local grocery store, Acme, stocked coconut sugar, a natural sweetener.  Coconut sugar looks like and similar in sweetness to Light Brown Sugar.  It has the same amount of calories and carbs as regular sugar, but, it has a lower glycemic index, providing a more stable release of glucose into the blood.

The Coconut nectar is heated until the water evaporates, and then the caramelized nectar is dried and ground.

That’s why the “Brown Stuff” was allowed during my detox.  It kept my blood sugars balanced; which helps with weight management.

And, unlike refined table sugar that’s void of essential nutrients, Coconut Sugar is a good source of potassium, iron, and vitamins.

Since I discovered Coconut Sugar, I add it to oatmeal, sprinkle it on sweet potatoes, and I bake with it.  So, it may not be a trick, but any natural sugar with nutrients that doesn’t spike my blood sugar levels does the trick for me!

So here’s the treat for you: I recently whipped up a moist and tasty Pumpkin Loaf recipe  made with Pumpkin Puree (no oil or butter needed in recipe) and 1/4 cup of Coconut Sugar for a perfect amount of sweetness.

Eating just one slice provides about 63.7% of your daily requirement of Vitamin A, and the recipe is healthy enough to enjoy two slices.

 

Tips:

Pumpkin Puree:  Use it as a substitute for butter or oil in recipes. For oil, the ratio is one to one — one cup oil is simply replaced with one cup pumpkin puree.  To substitute pumpkin puree for butter, multiply the amount of butter by 3/4. If a recipe calls for one cup of butter, use 3/4 cup puree in its place.

Canned Pumpkin: Select canned pumpkin puree instead of canned pumpkin pie mixes because they have added sugars and syrups. Use pumpkin puree so that you can add the type and amount of sugar you desire.

Pumpkin Loaf

Enjoy a slice (or two) of this easy to make, moist and delicious pumpkin loaf.  The small amount of coconut palm sugar and smashed ripe banana provides a perfect, subtle sweetness.  No added fat needed.  This recipe is low in calories and fat and it’s an excellent source of vitamin A.

  • 1 1/2 cup cassava flour (or Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour or All-Purpose Flour)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 fresh eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease it with a small bit of coconut oil or butter.

  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice in a small mixing bowl.  Set aside.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat banana and coconut palm sugar with a hand mixer or in a stand mixer until banana is “creamed,” much like if you were beating butter and sugar.  Do this until light and fluffy and sugar is well incorporated.

  4. Add an egg, on at a time; then beat well until fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Add pumpkin and mix to incorporate.

  5. Beat flour mixture into wet ingredients.  Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Remove pan from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes in pan before removing.  After 10 minutes, remove from pan to a board or plate and allow to cool completely.  

  7. I enjoyed my slice of pumpkin loaf topped with a spoonful of homemade cranberry relish.   

 

Note:  I discovered  coconut sugar and several other healthier foods options while on the detox program.  If your interested, I invite you to learn more about the program.

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