Break Bad and Bake Bread: Spiced Zucchini Pumpkin Chia Bread with Pecans and Cranberries

Up until two weeks ago, I was really on top of eating clean, but after the election, I found myself struggling to eat well. Thanksgiving this year really inspired me to make a change – get out of my rut. But that did not turn off my cravings. The cold weather combined with the holiday feeling left me with the craving for warm bread…so I made one that would keep me healthy and happy.  What better than a slice of a healthy flavorful bread and a cup of tea. This whole wheat, oat, zucchini, pumpkin, cranberry, pecan, chia bread made with psyllium husk, sweetened with dates and spiced with green cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove will keep you satisfied. It was moist, filling and full of flavor.

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I have been raising hell over the past few weeks – refusing to normalize what has happened. I refuse to remain silent in the face of injustice, intolerance or ignorance and will fight the rise of hatred. Breaking bad is turns out is to raise hell and defy authority. Sadly in many places, standing up against hatred this is going against the norm. It has been a challenging time and but now I see it as a call to action for me and for that I am grateful. I will rise up to challenges I expect to encounter and a woman of color living in this time in America, and continue to help others. And I will continue to enjoy living my life and doing the things I enjoy doing – providing for my family and tribe, taking care of myself, helping others in need and sharing my gifts with the world.

I woke up inspired over the weekend. To cook and create again. But of course the weather left me craving all that was not good for me – so I compromised with myself. I would defy the norm and break bad by baking a healthy nutritious bread. Bread made with whole wheat and oats, no refined sugars, with vegetables and lots of goodness.

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In my 34 years growing up in New York and New Jersey, I was exposed to a lot of traditions that seem to have remained the same despite world changes and advances – the Quakers, the Amish, the Hasidic Jews and the Mennonites. I learned a lot about tolerance, being self-reliant, respecting the Earth and living in the world without getting caught up in it. I had an opportunity to churn butter and bake bread in a hearth. One of the things that intrigued me the most was how flavorful the bread made by Mennonites tasted – it was due to the freshly ground wheat. Unlike the wheat we buy in stores that has been processed and sitting on shelves and therefore dead, fresh ground flour will transform the flavor of your bread.

I was lucky to find some fresh ground flour so I had to use it up quickly which is why I was inspired to bake. But fear not, I have made this recipe with and without fresh ground flour and it is moist, flavorful and tasty – so store bought flour is perfectly fine. I just encourage you to keep an eye out for fresh ground flour and try it sometime.

This recipe is simple. The most time consuming part is to bake and puree pumpkin and soak and puree dates. You can use canned pumpkin but it will have an odd flavor – canned pumpkin tastes very different from fresh pumpkin and the taste is not as pleasant. I highly encourage you to make your own fresh pumpkin puree. It does not take that much time and the taste is worth it. You can make a lot of puree and freeze it for later use. every fall my freezer is restocked with freshly made puree.

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For the dates, soak them overnight, remove the pits and puree them with a small amount of water – just enough to make a smooth puree but not too much.Dates provide a non-refined whole food sugar for sweetness.

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I love zucchini bread, but I often find them too sugary – the dates work well with the flavor of this bread and also reduce the sweetness.

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To make this bread, in a small bowl beat the eggs. Then mix the eggs together with all the wet ingredients – shredded zucchini (I used a food processor to shred), pumpkin puree, date puree, coconut oil, and vanilla bean paste (or extract, paste has a more natural vanilla flavor to it and less alcohol/medicinal taste). Set aside.

In a separate bowl simply whisk the dry ingredients together – whole wheat flour, rolled oats, psyllium husk, chia seeds, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cloves, nutmeg, ground cardamom, and cinnamon.

Psyllium husk is naturally low in carbohydrates and will help reduce the number of calories you consume. It adds more fiber to your diet and keep you full and regular. Psyllium also helps absorb the extra liquid from the fresh purees in the mix.

Rolled oats are less processed that instant oats – instant oats cook faster and reduce texture, so beware the substitute will change the bread some.

Mix the dry and wet ingredients together well. Fold in the dried cranberries and pecans. The pecans add another layer of texture and the cranberries add another layer of sweetness.

Coat two 8inch x 4 inch loaf pans with coconut oil and evenly distribute between the to pans. Bake for 60 min at 350 degrees F. Cool on a rack and slice.

Moist. Tasty. Filling. Nutritious. By the way, these work well as muffins as well.

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Break bad and do not normalize what is bad. Bake bread and fill your body with nutrients in every bite. Share. Eat. With tea. Or with ice cream. Enjoy.
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Happy Eating!

Spiced Zucchini Pumpkin Chia Bread with Pecans and Cranberries

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup pureed dates (10 dates, soaked overnight, pitted and pureed with water)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 small zucchini or 1 medium)
  • 1 cup coconut oil (make sure it is liquid, warm if needed)
  • 1 Tbs vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup psyllium husk
  • 1 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground green cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two 8 in by 4 in loaf pans or a muffin pan (about 24 muffins).

Beat eggs in a small bowl . Add in pumpkin puree, dates, zucchini, coconut oil and vanilla bean paste and mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, whisk together whole wheat flour, rolled oats, psyllium husk, chia seeds, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves.

Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix together. Once mixed well, fold in chopped pecans and dried cranberries.

Distribute evenly among loaf pans. Bake for 60 minutes – checking with a toothpick every so often after about 45 min as ovens vary.

Cool on a rack for at least 5 min. Slice and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

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