You may be surprised to hear this recipe has no sugar. Nope, not even the “natural” sugar alternatives like maple syrup or honey or that present in fruit. I did this, one because sugar is highly inflammatory to the body, even when consumed in fruit (though that is better, it is still not ideal), and two because why not? In a culture where sugar is snuck into almost every item you find on the shelves at the store, it is necessary to try to remove it completely to see what happens. You will find you crave it, and experience withdrawal symptoms because we are addicted to it. We as a nation are addicted to sugar. Plain and simple. And I’m not blaming you, I’m blaming the flawed system.
The start of the fat-free movement and fear of saturated fats in eggs and butter began in 1976. With this came the desire to remove fats from all foods. So was born margarine and egg beaters. Unfortunately, when they did this they realized the food tasted terrible and added sugar to compensate. This made the food more palatable and in turn, profitable. So, on this went for several decades before realizing, only recently, that saturated fats are not bad for us, but highly beneficial. However, the sugar in the foods hasn’t changed (much). And so our addiction to it continues. You will notice, if you take a look at the labels of any pre-packaged food you buy, many of them will contain some form of sugar.
Sugar can be found in many different forms: dextrose, sucrose, glucose, lactose, and galactose are among the not-so-obvious terms, but perhaps the most popular and absolute worst of them all is the famed high fructose corn syrup. This one is highly genetically modified and the farthest from “natural” you can get when it comes to sweeteners. Pretty much anything that ends in “ose” you can be sure it is a type of sugar. Also cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, stevia, coconut sugar, etc. are more populare forms of sugar these days. Despite being made from a tree or plant, these are no better, are still react the same way in your body. All I ask is beware of what you are consuming. Do yourself a favor and try an unsweetened version of your favorite baked goods. See if you can get past the lack of sweetness and favor the good fats and spices instead.
I created this recipe not only because I don’t care for the sweeteners, but as an act of rebellion against the system and their sugar overload. I want to create food that is delicious without having to be sweetened [at all]. This pumpkin bread was an experiment really, and turned out to be just what I was hoping for: hearty, salty, full of spice, and real food ingredients. The one it didn’t have? That sweet fix.
Pumpkin is not naturally sweet, and you taste that immediately. Beyond the no sugar in this recipe, however, you will find real food ingredients like almond meal, pumpkin puree, eggs, almond butter, coconut oil (great fat), and lots of spice that make up the flavor and depth. Do I miss the sugar? Honestly, no. The first bite was a little weird, but only because my brain is trained to think it should be sweet. However, the more I ate, the more I found I appreciated the taste of all the other ingredients way more when they were not hidden behind the sweetener. I top this bread with coconut oil or creamy yogurt as a fatty, satiating alternative. My brain is used to things being sweet, which is why I am determined to train it to look at food in a different way. I truly believe it starts with removing this addicting substance in all of it’s forms, and replacing it with good fat my body loves.
The take away message? Try more recipes like this that are not sweetened at all, not even with natural fruit. Why? Because our brains and bodies deserve it. They deserve to live without sugar, as we did before it was mass produced and unnaturally added to everything. Because our primal instincts are begging us to do so. Because it is necessary for us to take this drastic step away from sugar, before we can come back and appreciate it for what it is: a treat to be eaten very sparingly, if at all, and ideally only in the forms of sucrose in organically grown, whole fruit that is in season.
1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree
1/3 cup nut butter
4 T coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 T cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp cardamom
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or other nut like walnuts) plus more to top with
I. Preheat oven to 350°.
II. In a large mixing bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, nut butter, and vanilla.
III. In a separate smaller bowl combine almond meal, baking soda, baking powder, and spices.
IV. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.
V. Add chopped pecans and mix.
VI. Grease the bottom and sides of a loaf pan with coconut oil. Pour in your pumpkin mixture and top with a few half pecans.
VII. Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes or until loaf is golden and toothpick is inserted and removed clean.
Makes 1 loaf, or 16 muffins
If you are using canned pumpkin, this recipe will only call for half. Feel free to double the recipe to use the whole can, and freeze one of the loaves.
Try replacing the pecans for different nuts and seeds.