Super Moist Pumpkin Bars

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Pumpkins are the eternal symbol of fall and a healthy food, but they’re often transformed into not-so-healthy desserts. New York magazine declared Pumpkin is the New Bacon in their headline several years ago. Aargh! That’s because the minimal amount of pumpkin used (if any) in some of these processed products is usually wrapped in layers of saturated fat (butter), refined carbs (white flour) and sugar.

However, after much ‘tinkering’ in my kitchen, you can enjoy this nutritional all-star. These pumpkin treats are not only quick and easy to make, they’re extremely moist and light in texture (yes, despite being ‘whole grain’). I’ve skimped on the fat and sugar, but not the flavor. Best of all, my cardiac patients and family gave them a huge thumbs up! 🙂

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (117 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon)
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 large eggs (omega-3 fortified)
  • 1 1/3 cups (176 grams) light brown sugar
  • 2 cups (488 grams) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
  • 1/2 cup (113.5 grams) nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) Earth Balance® (Original) natural buttery spread, melted
  • 1/4 cup (63.8 grams) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Mexican vanilla bean extract)
  • Date sugar (optional)

Directions:   

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Prep the baking pan. Lightly mist olive oil on a 13″ x 9″ glass baking pan. Spread the oil evenly around bottom and sides with a small piece of paper towel or waxed paper.

3. In a LARGE bowl, thoroughly mix the dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups (117 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

4. In a MEDIUM bowl, whisk the following:

  • 2 large eggs (omega-3 fortified)
  • 1 1/3 cups (176 grams) light brown sugar – Do not pack!
  • 2 cups (488 grams) pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)

5. Then add the following to the pumpkin mixture and mix well:

  • 1/2 cup (113.5 grams) nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup (56 grams) Earth Balance® (Original), melted
  • 1/4 cup (63.8 grams) unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I use Mexican vanilla bean extract)

6. Pour wet ingredients into large bowl of dry ingredients. Mix gently until they are ‘just combined’. Do not overmix! Too much mixing or mixing “too enthusiastically” will result in your treats being dry. (I use my silicone spoon spatula for this.) silicone-spoon-spatula

7. Bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (You may have to adjust the baking time according to your oven.)

8. Cool completely, then dust the top with a sprinkling of date sugar (optional). Cut into 32 servings.

Nutrition: Each serving contains…

  • 5.5 grams of brown sugar (less than 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar)
  • 1.75 grams (about 1/3 teaspoon) of Earth Balance which equates to less than 0.4 grams of saturated fat.

To put this in perspective, HALF of a Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffin contains 24 grams of sugar (6 teaspoons of sugar!) and 6.5 grams of total fat whereby 2.25 grams are saturated fat. How many of you would eat just half of a Starbucks muffin?

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Fit Tip: Keep these treats in the refrigerator in an airtight container. They will stay fresh for up to a week — if they last that long! 🙂 FREEZING: These bars freeze extremely well. Let them cool completely firstAfter they’re cooled, I place them in a BPA-free slider bag then, put them in a BPA-free airtight storage container. Yes, it’s double the effort, but so far, they haven’t dehydrated from freezer burn. When thawed, they’re just as moist and taste as fresh as when I just baked them. Really!

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