Pumped-Up Pumpkin Bread

Two words often strike fear in the minds of moms: Snacks and Breakfast. Well, there’s Dessert too, because they’re always asking, and we’re always balancing the desire to please with the need to monitor sugar intake, both in terms of nutrition and also our wish to keep the Hyperactivity Gremlins in check. My friend Marilee recently posted her frustrations on Facebook, pleading for ideas for school snacks, and I’m not going to lie, the suggestions were not exactly stellar.

With my big garden and three kids, I’ve always relied on quick breads and cakes—baking powder and/or baking soda-leavened loaves—to use up excess produce from a bumper crop. I’ve done carrot, summer squash and zucchini, winter squash like butternut, and I even have a recipe for beet cake. The nice thing about quick breads is they’re versatile, tasty, they freeze well, and best of all, they’re multi-taskers, operating as breakfast, snacks, and even desserts. They fit the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, most traditional recipes are utterly loaded with sugar and oil.

So with the following recipe I set out to alter one of my favorites, Pumpkin Bread. By reducing the oil and adding unsweetened applesauce, we’re lowering fat and increasing nutrition. Added soy flour bumps the protein up, and flax meal and wheat bran increase the fiber content and micronutrients. Best of all, using white whole wheat flour provides all of the benefits of traditional whole wheat flour with a lighter texture and flavor, so your kids won’t know the difference.

This batter is thick, and while experimenting with it, I went ahead and scooped some into greased muffin tins. They rose beautifully into perfect round-topped muffins. Then I used an ice cream scoop and scooped some onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Guess what? The recipe yielded perfect round-topped cookies (or whoopie pies?!) as well. Needless to say, I’m really pleased with this recipe, and I think you will be too.


  • Store your flax meal and wheat bran or wheat germ in the refrigerator. Due to their fat content, they can go rancid at room temperature.
  • Soy flour is generally sold in the health food section. It’s inexpensive, lasts forever on the pantry shelf in a sealed container, and it’s a must to have around as it’s a great way to increase the protein content of your favorite baked goods. I find that I can comfortably substitute up to ½ c. soy flour per 2 cups flour in a recipe (equaling ½ c soy flour and 1 ½ c regular flour) without too much problem. Experiment to see what works for you.
  • Once your bread has cooled, pre-slice it, wrap it, and store it in the freezer. In the morning, you can stick a frozen piece right into the toaster to reheat. My kids like it with peanut butter.
  • Add a handful of bittersweet chocolate chips to the batter and make cookies. Bittersweet chocolate is relatively low-fat, dairy-free, and very flavorful, so a little goes a long way. The cookies store well in the freezer as well.
  • Feel free to substitute banana, winter squash, or sweet potato puree for the pumpkin. Two 15 oz. cans equal approximately 3 cups of puree. If you use banana, skip the spices and add 2t. vanilla extract.

Pumped-Up Pumpkin Bread

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Pumpkin is one of fall’s favorite flavors, and this huge batch of bread will fix your craving whether you’re baking for a bake sale, a party, or stocking your freezer up with easy snacks. This sturdy batter can be turned readily into bread, muffins or cookies to make serving fit the need of the occasion.

Freezer Tip: Wrap cooled baked goods tightly in foil and store in a plastic freezer bag. They’ll be good to go for three months.

Servings: 36 (61 g )

Prep Time: 10 min.

Cook Time: 1 hour 10 min.


  • 4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup soy flour
  • ¼ cup flax meal
  • ½ cup wheat bran
  • 4 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • ½ tsp. ginger
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 egg white
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 (15 oz.) cans pumpkin
  • ½ tsp. salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl combine the wheat flour, soy flour, flax meal, wheat bran, baking soda, and spices. Mix until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and all eggs until the sugar is dissolved, then mix in the pumpkin, applesauce, oil, and salt.
  3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently until well combined.
  4. Divide batter among three greased 8″x4” bread pans, smooth the tops, and bake at 350ºF until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (50-60 minutes).

To make cookies: Spoon onto a cookie sheet by the tablespoon and bake at 350ºF until they spring back to the touch (10-15 minutes).

To make muffins: Fill muffin cups ⅔ full and bake at 350ºF until a toothpick inserted into the middle should comes out clean (20-30 minutes).

Guiding Stars Expert Chef Erin Dow balances three food worlds. As a mother of three young children, she’s fighting the battle every parent faces: how to keep her kids interested in the foods that keep them healthy. As the chef and owner of her catering company Eatswell Farm, she utilizes original recipes and techniques–focused on enhancing the enjoyment of locally-sourced ingredients–to best interpret the client’s vision. And as Consulting Executive Chef for Falmouth-based Professional Catering Services, a business specializing in production and backstage catering for concerts, she develops and executes menus that accommodate the strict nutritional requirements of the music industry elite. Erin and her family raise their own chicken for meat and eggs, have dabbled in pastured Narragansett turkeys, and have a very weedy but very large and productive garden.