Fresh Pumpkin Bread with Banana & Walnuts

When we were in Paris last week, the weather was the perfect Fall temperature (just cold enough to wear a light jacket and Parisian-style scarf), but pumpkin-flavored goodies were nowhere to be found.  No Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. No pumpkin muffins or pumpkin bread at the bakeries.  Now I'm certainly not complaining about being in Paris for the beginning of Fall, but as soon as we arrived back in the States, I was ready for some pumpkin.

I kept an eye out for it at the grocery store and even asked someone at Whole Foods whether they carry canned pumpkin (they do, but it hadn't come in yet), but I couldn't seem to get my hands on a can.  In a moment of desperation, I bought a cute little pumpkin and decided to roast it myself.  

The process of cooking a fresh pumpkin was surprisingly easy.  Since it was small enough (just about 4 or 5 inches in diameter), it wasn't hard to cut it in half with a sharp knife.  I just scooped out the seeds, which I later toasted, and wrapped the little guy up in aluminum foil to roast while I was roasting squash for the Butternut Squash Soup (35 minutes at 425 degrees). Then, I just scooped out the cooked flesh and refrigerated it until I was ready to make this bread.  

This bread is made without any added oil because the pumpkin and banana add enough moisture to the bread.  Each slice has a chewy crust and moist center. 

The bread isn't as sweet as most pumpkin bread or banana bread recipes because it's sweetened mostly with the natural sugars in the banana, with a little bit of raw sugar and some honey and/or maple syrup.  If you know that you like your pumpkin bread on the sweeter side, feel free to throw in a couple more tablespoons of turbinado sugar.  But better yet, lightly toast a piece of the finished bread and spread some butter on it with a drizzle of honey and sprinkle of cinnamon.  It's the perfect snack on a Fall day.

Fresh Pumpkin Bread with Banana & Walnuts Makes 1 loaf with 8-10 slices
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup oat bran
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
1.5 cups fresh roasted pumpkin (see instructions above - canned should work, but reduce salt to 1/4 tsp)
½ cup mashed banana (1 medium)
4 Tablespoons honey or maple syrup (I used 2 Tablespoons of each)
¼ cup unsweetened plain almond milk
2 Tablespoons nonfat Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts* (measured before chopping)

*If your walnuts aren't toasted already, you can do it yourself while you're preparing the other ingredients.  Just throw them in the 350-degree oven for about 8 minutes, or until the walnuts become fragrant.  

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare an 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and lay a piece of parchment inside the loaf pan, covering the bottom and longest sides of the pan, so that it makes a sling that will allow you to easily pull the loaf out by holding the parchment (see below).

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oat bran, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. 
2. In a blender, combine pumpkin, banana, honey/maple syrup, almond milk, yogurt, egg, and vanilla. Blend on high until smooth.  Add the blended mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in walnuts.

3. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake about 1 hour, until cooked through and a toothpick or butter knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  
Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and set aside to let cool completely.
When the bread has cooled completely, I recommend wrapping it up in aluminum foil and storing it in the refrigerator (unless you're planning on eating it all that day).  When you take it out to serve a slice, cut a slice with a sharp knife, pop it in the toaster on a lower setting, then spread a bit of butter or Earth Balance on top and add a dash of cinnamon.  If you're eating this as a dessert (or sweet midday snack), drizzle a bit of honey over the melted butter and enjoy.

Epilogue:  The same day that I made this loaf of bread with my fresh pumpkin, I walked into Trader Joe's to discover a huge display of canned pumpkin.  Ah well, at least it's a sign that Fall flavors have officially arrived in D.C.   

Nutrition facts for one slice of pumpkin bread, assuming you get 10 slices total:

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 85 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 37%Vitamin C 3%
Calcium 3%Iron 6%

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