Pumpkin, arguably Fall’s “hardest working” food, is in just about everything this time of year. And for good reason…the season’s favorite fruit (that’s right, pumpkins are fruit…weird, huh?) is so versatile it can be used to moisten some delicious muffins, spice up your favorite Starbucks latte, and, of course, be the star ingredient in a Thanksgiving pumpkin pie. And…one shouldn’t forget that it is one of the rare foods that is acceptable to leave on the porch as a decoration…an often overlooked attribute unique to the pumpkin. But where did this fascination with the pumpkin come from?
Americans’ obsession with the pumpkin goes much farther back than Starbucks’ debut of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. In fact, pumpkins were an important source of food for Native Americans and when the Pilgrims came to America, they learned to weave door mats from dried pumpkin. Additionally, they used pumpkin in soups, side-dishes, desserts, and even in beer! Pumpkins were included in the first Thanksgiving and have been a staple ever since. We are so thankful too! Can you imagine a fall without pumpkins? We wouldn’t want to!
As if pumpkins weren’t amazing enough, they are also incredibly healthy! Just one cup of pumpkins supplies 59% of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for vitamin A, 26% of the DRI for vitamin C, and 22% of the DRI for fiber. In addition, an increasing number of animal studies now show that the starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Last but not least, don’t forget that the seeds from pumpkins can be cleaned and roasted for a delicious and healthy snack rich in zinc and manganese which are important in immune function and bone health.
So it only makes sense to add to all the pumpkin chatter and glean some healthy pumpkin-y recipes for you to try.
This is how it went: my Canadian aunties came down for a California visit. When Auntie Andrea + Breah are together, we bake. Normally healthy, vegan-y sorts of things. Since Canadian Thanksgiving is a month before American Thanksgiving (yes, in October), we decided to experiment with Pumpkin-y desserts that would be sure to impress the rest of the crazy Canadian family. (They wouldn’t even know they are secretly healthy!)
First up was the pumpkin bread. After much contemplation, we did decide not to buy, bake, and scrape an actual pumpkin and ended up with the Organic Trader Joe’s canned variety. Thank goodness.
We adapted Minimalist Baker’s Vegan Pumpkin Currant Bread, into a Gluten Free version to feature Cranberries & Pecans!
- 1.5 flax eggs (1.5 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 4 Tbsp water)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- ¼ cup coconut palm sugar or raw cane sugar
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice (Best investment!)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ½ cup almond or coconut milk
- 1 cup Gluten Free Flour
- ⅓ cup oat flour (ground GF rolled oats)
- ¼ cup dried cranberries and chopped, toasted pecans
- Preheat oven to 350. To grease pan, rub loaf pan with coconut oil.
- In a small bowl, prepare the flax egg by mixing the water and ground flaxseed and letting it rest for 5 minutes. then add maple syrup, pumpkin puree, sugar, oil and stir. Next add baking soda, baking powder, spices, salt, and whisk again. Then add almond milk and whisk again.
- Add oat and GF flour and stir until just combined. If it appears too thick, add a little more almond milk.
- Add dried cranberries & chopped, toasted pecans and fold until just incorporated.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake until the top is browned and knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean- about 60 minutes.
- All to cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer the bread to wire rack to cool completely. Keep in the fridge sealed in plastic wrap!
Next up was the pumpkin mousse. Now when you think of mousse, you think of cream, we think of coconut cream! It was just as rich and creamy as a typical mousse, but totally vegan.
Plus, I may have inspired Sam into incorporating it into a future GF Pumpkin Pie.. stay tuned!
So for the mousse, it was so simple: Coconut cream, pumpkin, maple syrup for sweetener, and some spices for pizazz. (Got rid of that processed condensed milk!)
I adapted our recipe from this one from Barre3. The only differences we made were adding an extra 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup pumpkin to relish in the pumpkin glory. I used pumpkin pie spice and extra cinnamon instead of all of the individual spices. AND, I bought Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Seeds for on top. Delish!
I did find the pumpkin mousse servings to be pretty rich, so if you love it, go for it, but if you want to spread the goodness, I recommend serving smaller portions 🙂
I’m happy to report that my Canadian family loved our pumpkin creations and with flavors this rich and flavorful, no one even suspected that they were healthy!
As always, sending you LOVE and PEACE without the GREASE!
xo the Glisten Girls