As I write in all of my cookbooks, sugar consumption has gotten alarmingly out of hand in our country. So much so that even food writers are taking notice – not just the medical industry.
I’m not trying to take away all of your fun, but it’s time to start looking at what’s thrust onto the supermarket shelves and restaurant menus with a more discerning eye. Sure it tastes good, but what about what happens during and after digestion? Even moderate amounts of sugary drinks are enough to start the production of fat-depositing enzymes into the liver, according to a study published this year by the American Liver Foundation.
And if this news weren’t sobering enough, there’s research linking sugar to Alzheimer’s disease. New York Times writer Mark Bittman did a brilliant and descriptive essay on the subject in 2012 titled “Is Alzheimer’s Type 3 Diabetes?” Google it only if you’re ready to wake from the culture-induced trance that sugar is just harmless fun. And if you didn’t know that back in 2005 doctors and scientists began categorizing Alzheimer’s as the Type 3 Diabetes, well, wake up and smell the unsweetened iced coffee!
I’m not even suggesting that you ditch the candy corn completely. Just eat a little less of it this season, and try a healthier sweet instead. So what better way to welcome autumn than a fragrant loaf of pumpkin bread? This is moist and delicious and full of beta carotene and fiber, thanks to a can of pumpkin puree. Please note: this is a gluten-free pumpkin bread, which means a different texture and therefore a different baking process. Gluten-Free breads and the like tend to be gummier than their wheat-based counterparts. Add a can of pumpkin into the mix (literally) and you’ve got some serious goo to contend with. This bread requires extra baking time because of it.
My first loaf was quite hard and crusty on the outside, but still a little soft and mousse-like on the inside. So I had to up the baking time and round things out by letting the bread sit in a cooling oven. This way it still continues to cook but the exterior doesn’t get charred! Definitely let this cool before slicing into it. You want it as set as possible. As always, the sugar content is cut way back. The effect is a slight sweetness, not an overpowering one. Besides, it pairs perfectly with a little butter-honey mixture, apple butter, or your favorite jam. Don’t decide it’s too bland right off the bat. Give your taste buds time to adjust to not being assailed with an avalanche of white sugar.
2 cups of all-purpose gluten-free baking mix
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon all-spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
½ cup light olive oil, grapeseed, or sunflower oil
2 eggs, room temperature
A generous ½ cup coconut palm sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk dry ingredients (except the sugar) together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix the pumpkin, oil, eggs, sugar, and molasses with an electric beater on low. Increase to medium after a minute until completely smooth. Add dry ingredients, 1/3 cup at a time until blended. Batter will be extremely thick. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and scrape batter into pan. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn off oven and let the bread cool in the oven for at least a half-hour. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature or just slightly warm before slicing. Enjoy plain or with the topping of your choice – mine is unsalted butter!
Stacey Morris is a Loudonville based wellness blogger, cookbook author and health coach. Her website is www.staceymorris.com.