Monday, October 31, 2016

"Healthy-ish" Pumpkin Muffins or Bread

I love fall flavors.  I think I already rambled on about that in my butternut squash soup post.  There's just something so comforting with fall flavors.  It's like getting a big, warm, spice hug.  I also love bread.  And muffins.  And pie.  And pretty much everything I'm not supposed to eat according to the nutritionist that is helping me manage my gestational diabetes.  I've been pretty good lately and hadn't baked anything recently,  but it was starting to get really hard to not fill my Sunday early afternoon with the oven on and tinkering with baking recipes.  So, I decided to try to 'healthi-fy' or low-carb-a-fy? a pumpkin bread recipe.

Pumpkin bread/muffins/cupcakes are pretty good for my diabetes since pumpkin has fiber and protein and beta-carotene, and only 8 g. of carbs per cup.  Basically, it's good stuff.  I'll even recommend canned pumpkin to some of my doggie patients that are having some GI issues (helps firm up those poops!).  I found a pumpkin bread recipe that was super popular online at AllRecipes and made 1 loaf of bread subbing some whole wheat flour for the all purpose, cutting back the sugar, and subbing one of the eggs with 1 c. unsweetened applesauce.  It came out so moist and delicious I wanted to see how far I could push the healthy substitutions.  So I made it again with 1/3 of the sugar, 2/3 whole wheat vs. all purpose flour, and just decreased to 3 eggs.  It still came out yummy.  The second time around I made the recipe into cupcake/muffins and iced some with cream cheese frosting (not diabetic friendly).  They were brought into work for Vet Tech Appreciation Week and I heard they were good.   I only ate the un-iced muffins and they were still really tasty, though not as moist as the first batch of bread.  Warning note: this recipe still has about 29g of carbs per serving.  So it's only diabetes friendly if you eat like half to one serving.  I know it's super hard to do that.  Believe me, I wanted to eat the whole loaf in one sitting.

"Healthy-ish" Pumpkin Muffins
Servings: 18
Recipe altered from

  • 1 15 oz. can pumpkin
  • 1 c. vegetable oil
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2/3 c. water
  • 3 eggs (or substitute unsweetened apple sauce to make vegan)
  • 2 &1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 & 1/4c. all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 &1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  In a large bowl, use a hand mixer or whisk to mix together canned pumpkin, oil, sugar, water, and eggs.
  2. In another large bowl, mix together whole wheat and all purpose flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger.  Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  3. If making bread, pour into a greased and flour coated bread pan and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  If making cupcakes, pour into lined muffin tins and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Frost if desired.
Cream Cheese Frosting (NOT healthy but still very delish)
Makes 3 cups
Recipe from Cook's Illustrated Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

  • 12 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 6 tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tsp. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 &3/4 c (7 oz) confectioners' sugar*
*Note: if you have a fancy blender like a Blendtec or Vitamix, you can make your own confectioners' sugar by pulsing granulated sugar until it's powdered


  1. In a food processor, process cream cheese, butter, Greek yogurt, vanilla and salt untilcombined, about 5 seconds.  Scrape downsides of bowl as needed.  Add confectioners' sugar and process until smooth, about 10 more seconds

Monday, October 24, 2016

"Healthy-ish" Banana Bread

I really enjoy baking, but having gestational diabetes has made it difficult to enjoy baking the usual things.  Banana bread is one of those things that I'll make once I have a few too-ripe-bananas and want to have breakfast for the week ready.   I have an old standby recipe that I have no idea where it's origins are from, except that the handwritten recipe is in my sister's handwriting and it's on a scrap of a flash card.  I altered this one to include some dark chocolate chips to compensate for cutting back the sugar and subbing whole wheat flour for some of the all purpose flour.  I also added some chopped walnuts for added protein/satiety.  Came out well.  I did add some cream cheese frosting to the loaf for Reid to enjoy.  Without icing, it still comes out to about 42 grams of carbs per serving (which is a bit more then the 30 g/meal I should be eating...).  But hey, I can satisfy myself with half a slice and 1 c. of milk.

"Healthified" Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • 2 really ripe large bananas, mashed
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 c. chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and coat a loaf pan with cooking spray.  In a large bowl, beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, butter until sugar dissolved.  Stir in mashed bananas.  In another bowl, mix together flours, baking soda, and salt. 
  2. Stir flour mixture into wet ingredients until just combined.  Add chocolate chips and walnuts.  Pour into loaf pan and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cardamom Butternut Squash Soup

We had about 4 days of 'fall weather' about 2 weeks ago and it was amazing.  Fall is Reid's favorite time of year here in Central Texas.  On any good day/night he'll take a deep breath in and scan the sunset and declare, "Just another beautiful day in Central Texas!"  That is, of course, once we get out of the >100 degree brutality that is the summer here.  I really enjoy fall as well.  I like pulling out all my light clothing layers, and my cowboy or fashion boots from the back of the closet.  I like wearing a rain jacket with the hopes it will actually rain and then feeling like an idiot when it doesn't.  I like the smell of roasting squash like pumpkin and butternut and acorn and weird ones I've never seen before, and cinnamon, and nutmeg, and all those warm flavors.  So when we had those 4 days for fall weather a while back I loaded my grocery cart with butternut squash and grabbed my Dutch oven from the cabinet.

This butternut squash soup was inspired in parts by what I had on hand and my desire to keep it somewhat diabetic friendly and the butternut squash soup recipe from Cook's Illustrated Cookbook (a wonderful birthday gift from my boss!)  The roasting of the butternut squash may be a little unnecessary since you could also just cook the squash in the chicken stock over the stove, but I find it adds an extra dimension of flavor and makes your house smell amazing.  This can easily be made vegetarian by subbing chicken stock for vegetable and made vegan by omitting the Greek yogurt.

Cardamom Butternut Squash Soup


  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 2 c. low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 &1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper

Serve with

  • Cinnamon sugar whole wheat croutons-recipe follows
  • Dollop of Greek yogurt
  • Toasted pistachios 


  1. Preheat oven to 375*F.  Cut butternut squash in half and remove inner seeds and fibers.  Rub with 2 tsp. olive oil and sprinkle of salt.  Roast in oven for about 25-30 minutes or until soft.  Allow to cool before removing skin and cutting into large chunks.
  2. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add shallots and caramelize for about 2 minutes.  Add diced squash and chicken broth.  Allow to come to a boil over high heat and then lower to a simmer for about 5 minutes.  Season with cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt and pepper.  Carefully transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.  Return to pot for warming.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Serve with dollop of greek yogurt and toasted pistachios and/or cinnamon sugar whole wheat croutons.
Cinnamon Sugar Whole Wheat Croutons
  • 3 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread, crust removed and cut into 1" cubes
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar
  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Place croutons in a single layer and bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden brown, tossing once during baking time. (This can also be done at the same time you roast the butternut squash; just keep a close eye on them to ensure they don't burn)