Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall at the Pumpkin Patch

I do like fall . . . sometimes. I love biting into a fresh, hard apple, juicy ripe pears, pumpkin bread and warm soups. When the leaves are turning brilliant colors and you can heard the crunch of crisp leaves under you feet I like that. The past few weeks, though it has felt like we skipped fall and were headed straight to winter. It was cloudy and windy followed by a gloomy mix of rain/snow that froze the plants and made all of the trees droop. There were only soggy, brown leaves under my feet. This past weekend however, it turned in to two days of perfect fall weather. The air on Saturday was crisp and warm and the sun was shining. Some girlfriends and I took some kids from our church to Papa's Pumpkin Patch. The pumpkin patch was buzzing with children laughing and playing on castles made out of hay, jumping over logs, riding ponies, and picking out pumpkins! You really couldn't ask for a better scene on a beautiful fall day.

We had a fun time picking out the perfect pumpkin to sit on my front steps.

This of course put me in the mood for some pumpkin baking! Pumpkins are a must during this time of year and the good thing is that they are super healthy. Pumpkins are high in (get ready there are a lot) carotenoides, lutein, zeaxanthin, iron, zinc, and fiber. Wow! Carotenoides, leutin and zeaxanthin are antioxidants that scanvange for free radicals. What in the world--free radicals?? Free radicals are things (molecules) that run around in our body and attack cells, leaving them open to damage (which can lead to cancers, chronic diseases, etc). Antioxidents help repair damage from free radicals and they help kill free radicals. Our body does not make antioxidants, so we have to eat them and pumpkin is one good way.

Besides pumpkin bars, which are my absolute favorite way to eat pumpkin, pumpkin bread is also a winner in my book. Last year I found an interesting recipe in Cooking Light magazine that was written by a dietitian (from Wisconsin) and called for beer. It sounded interesting and so I of course tweaked the recipe to make it even more nutritious and it turned out to be some of the best pumpkin bread I have ever had. I made some of it in mini loaf pans this year so I could give it to friends and co-workers. Enjoy!

Revamped Honey Pumpkin Bread

1 1/2 cups of white flour
1 1/2 cups of wheat flour

2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup brow
n sugar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup honey beer, at room temperature (or a good wheat beer if you can't find a honey beer)
2 egg whites

2 large eggs

1 15oz can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie spiced)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 9x5 inch loaf pans with cooking spray (or 1 12x5 and 2 5x3 pans, or 1 6 mini loaf pan)

2. Combine flours, salt, baking power, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice in a medium bowl and stir with a whisk.

3. Place sugars, honey, canola oil, vanilla, beer, and eggs in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended. Add pumpkin and yogurt and beat at low speed until blended.

4. Add flour mixture and beat until just combined. Divide batter between loaves and bake for 1 hour for large loaf pans or 45 minutes for small loaf pans or until toothpick comes out clean. Tent with foil if browning too quickly. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

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