I've said it before... pumpkin and me make for happy togetherness.
A secret passion of mine is baking. In another life path, I would've become a baker and creator of some sort of magical baked good item besides chocolate-filled croissants (oh la la!).
So, there's pumpkin. Canned and pureed right now is what I got, ya'll. I use it in yogurts and smoothies often, yet what to do with a little extra in the can? Of course, bake something!
The interwebs are great for getting ideas from others and then tailoring the recipe a bit (sometimes with a little extra courage). I have a few athletes who cannot tolerate egg protein, but the majority of homemade baked bar recipes include eggs as an ingredient. "Flax eggs" are great as a replacement binder - woohoo, I happen to have ground flax in the fridge AND I'm out of eggs at the moment. Voila, an egg-free "bar" that contains the rest of my open-can-getting-old-gotta-use-it-up-pumpkin.
I adapted this recipe and want to be sure to give credit where credit is due. As a side note, it's super challenging to find out where the true source of recipe is on the interwebs these days. Anywho, here are the ingredients I used:
2 tablespoons ground flax
6 tablespoons hot water
1 cups rolled oats (cut in half from original recipe)
1/2 cup raw cashews (replaces sunflower seeds from original recipe as I didn't have those)
2 Tbsp hemp hearts (cut in half from original recipe simply because this is all I had left)
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (divided; by the way, I use Trader Joe's raw - they are massive!)
8 Medjool dates, pitted
1/2 cup pumpkin pure
1 Tbsp coconut nectar (replaces 3 Tbsp maple syrup from original recipe)
1 serving vanilla whey isolate protein powder (added to recipe to increase protein content; ~27 grams by weight, 21 grams protein). Use a vegan vanilla protein powder to make this recipe completely vegan.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preparation steps (modified from original recipe):
Preheat oven to 350F and line a 8x8 pan with parchment paper
In a small bowl, mix the ground flax seeds with hot water and set aside.
In a food processor, process all the dry ingredients (leave 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds out). Add in the flax mixture towards the end. Mix on high until all ingredients are blended. (I didn't let the food processor go too long though - not like a "smooth mixture", but a "smooth, chunky mixture".
Add in the remaining 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds and pulse just a few seconds to give the mixture some texture.
Scoop onto the baking dish and press down firmly and evenly.
Bake at 350F for 15 minutes. <-- My baking time was more like 25-30 minutes. I used the "touch method" to determine when it was about done.
Once baked, remove from the pan onto a cooling rack and cool for about 10 minutes.
Nutritionally, each piece (for a yield of 16) is 110 calories, 13 grams carb, 5 grams protein, 5 grams fat. The carbohydrate to protein ratio changed from 4:1 to about 2.5:1, which is a bit better for those seeking more carb-controlled snacks.
How was it, you may be wondering?
The texture was moist even with the extended baking time, so I let the pieces "dry out" a little longer. I live at high altitude and in a dry climate, so it doesn't take long for baked goods to lose moisture when exposed to this high and dry Colorado mountain air. The texture reminded me of a cake-like bar, which is A-okay with moi!
Taste-wise, a win! The pumpkin flavor is not overwhelming, but just right. I'm thinking the coconut nectar could be removed all together since the vanilla whey is sweetened (with Stevia). I will definitely do a Take 2 on this recipe to see what I can do with protein and fiber content improvements.
If you give this a go, let me know how it turns out for you!
Thanks for reading,
- lover of all things pumpkin