Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Moist Incredible Pumpkin Bread

  Along with the leaves turning spectacular shades of yellow, orange and red, another sure sign of fall is PUMPKINS. 

  The pumpkins in the garden are finally mature, and the kids are looking forward to cutting them into Jack-O-Laterns for Halloween. 

  October & November wouldn't be the same without Pumpkins adorning our doorsteps and cooking in our ovens. 

   While I must admit Pumpkin Pie is my number one favorite, this incredible Pumpkin Bread is a close second and doesn't last for long around the house.



3 1/2 Cups Organic Un-Bleached Flour
2 Cups packed Dark Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup White Sugar* (I use Raw Sugar)
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Sea Salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 Cups Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1/2 Cup Applesauce
2/3 Cup Coconut or Almond Milk*
2/3 Cup flaked coconut (optional)

* If using Sweetened Milk reduce Sugar to 1/3 Cup


  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two 8 x 4 inch loaf pans with coconut oil.

  In a large bowl, stir together the flour, brown sugar, regular sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg & cinnamon.  Add the pumpkin puree, oil, applesauce, milk and mix until all the flour is absorbed.  Fold in the flaked coconut (if using).  Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

  Bake for 1 hour and 15 minuted in the preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (My oven cooks fast and is ready in about an start checking it around the 50 minute mark)

  Remove from oven, and cover loaves tightly with foil.  Allow to steam for 10 minutes.  Remove foil, and turn out onto a cooling rack.  Tent loosely with the foil, and allow to cool completely. 

Not only does pumpkin taste good but it is also good for you.......

Health Benefits of Pumpkin

  • It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dieticians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
  • With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
  • Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from "age-related macular disease" (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
  • It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin Seeds indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.
I hope you enjoy and Remember.... You Are What You Eat.   Beci 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Minestrone Soup

  This last weekend I had an Autumnal (or Fall) Equinox Celebration at my home and it seemed like the perfect time to make my favorite Minestrone Soup Recipe.  The leaves are starting to change color and slowly fall off the trees.  The temperature is also getting down right crisp in the evening and early mornings.  September is my favorite month and for the first time ever, I am looking forward to fall & winter.

  About this time last year, I was looking for a great Minestrone Soup Recipe and my dear friend Ashley found this in the newspaper.  It came from the Restaurante Della Fontana.  For those of you around my age, you most likely ate at the Della Fontana before one of your High School Proms.  It brings back many wonderful memories.......

Minestrone Soup
~ Restorante della Fontana ~

¼ Cup Olive Oil
1 Cup diced onions
1 Cup diced carrots
1 Cup diced celery
½ Cup pearl barley
3 Cups Water
1 Cup chopped cabbage
1 Cup chopped spinach
1 Cup green beans, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons garlic
1 Cup cooked (or canned) kidney beans
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 ½ teaspoons salt (I use sea-salt)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 (32-ounce) boxes beef broth plus 1 Cup (I use Vegetable broth)
1 Cup ditalini pasta (I use 1/2 ditalini and 1/2 small shells)

      In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the oil.  Add the onions, carrots and celery.  Cook until the onions are translucent and the other vegetables are softened, about 7 minutes.  Remove from the pot and set aside.

      Add the pearl barley and water to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, about 35 minutes.
     Add the cabbage, spinach and green beans and continue to cook, covered, until the spinach has wilted and the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.
     Add the garlic, kidney beans, tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, oregano  & broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, about 15 minutes.  (I also added the onions, carrots and celery mixture at this point)
    Add the pasta and continue to cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, another 10 minutes.  Season with Salt and pepper. 

MAKES 5 quarts!

TIP:  I love a little more kick and add a bit more Oregano to the recipe.  It also freezes well so I often make a double batch.  When un-freezing, you will need to add more water or vegetable broth while heating.

I hope you enjoy.....

Namaste,  Beci