Well, thanks to the lovely weather, my family and I were trapped indoors. But, we were all safe, healthy and warm with plenty of provisions to see us through until the storm passed, and the wreckage left in it's quake could be addressed. So, what do I do when it looks like the world is ending outside? I bake of course. Wouldn't you?
I first made my kids some homemade hot chocolate (cocoa powder, milk, vanilla and pure maple syrup), at their request, and then got to baking. I had a few cups of fresh pumpkin puree ready to use, so I got out my cookbooks and started searching. I came across a recipe for Pumpkin Bars in my local church cookbook, but as I was reading the recipe I saw that it was full of highly processed ingredients (white flour, white sugar, vegetable oil) that I'm trying to weed out of our diet, so I decided I would change things up. I used whole wheat pastry flour, pure maple syrup and butter as substitutions. Yes, I still use butter. It's not as processed as vegetable or canola oil and it's good for you. I promise. Look it up. :)
Ok, now down to the recipe. As I mentioned before, I swapped out less processed ingredients to fit our healthier life style, and I also added some ground flax seed for extra nutrition. I reduced the amount of sweetener, not only because I wanted to keep it on the healthier side, but also because I opted to use pure maple syrup instead of white sugar, and it's pretty pricey. (100% Pure Maple Syrup is my sweetener of choice, though, so if you haven't tried it you really should. I find the best price in my area is at Costco, but definitely shop around to find a good deal where you are. I keep jugs of it on hand, since we only use that and honey for most of our sweetening needs anymore. I should really buy stock in it!)
Do you have any favorite healthy swaps? I'd love to hear about it.
Here's the recipe:
adapted from Shauna Young's Pumpkin Bars
1 1/3 cup 100% pure maple syrup
4 large eggs
1 cup butter, melted (I always use salted)
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (can sub 16 oz can pumpkin)
1/2 cup ground flax seed (I use Bob's Red Mill Organic Golden Flaxseed Meal)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Whisk together all the ingredients, except the flour, until smooth. Slowly mix in the flour until fully combined. Spread the batter evenly into a prepared 10x15 baking dish, or a sheet pan. Bake 20-30 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean). All ovens are different. Check after 20 minutes, and then go from there. Cool, and serve with cream cheese frosting (recipe follows) or sweetened whipped cream.
Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup salted butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp pure maple syrup (to taste)
Blend with an electric mixer until all ingredients are smooth. Mix for an additional 5 minutes on high (to get it light an fluffy). Refrigerate if the frosting gets too runny, and then whip again before icing the cake/bars.