and the great squash
are tied with the rainbow.
Listen! the rain's drawing near!
The voice of the bluebird is heard.
--Navajo Indian Chant, Songs in the Garden of the House God
I thought I was over my baking bug, but today proved me wrong. The oven’s been on most of the afternoon (as is the TV in the living room where Kevin is watching some playoff game or another—we’re both in winter bliss). But instead of Christmas cookies, I’m making some quick breads to freeze for fast breakfasts in the days and weeks to come (the academic semester begins tomorrow, so it’s back on a tighter schedule).
This leads to my proposal.
Since it’s been almost 2 weeks in to my month of vegetables, I decided it was time to suggest a few less traditional ways of getting the goods. My first pitch? Vegetables for breakfast.
Before beginning composition of an email rant, hear me out: you’ve most likely had vegetables at the morning table before now, from zucchini muffins to that fast food breakfast burrito with peppers, onions and salsa. And getting vegetables first thing means you’re on good footing from the beginning of day (i.e. no need to force an iceberg salad on yourself come lunchtime).
And why not make it as delicious as possible? For example, my vegetable breakfast offering #1: a moist, sweet, cinnamon-scented breakfast bread made with a hearty dose of winter squash—(or canned pumpkin). More vegetable breakfast options abound; I’ll be talking about them in posts to come.
Now about this bread: I can’t pretend to remember my first bite of pumpkin bread, but I am certain I like this rendition best--I've been tweaking it for some time to lower the fat without affecting the taste and texture. Make it with frozen squash puree or canned pumpkin--it has plenty of great flavor and good health made with either. It’s also quick and convenient to throw together, is freezable for months, and can be gobbled or savored, whatever your time- frame allows at the given moment of consumption.
Oh, and both adults and children love it (just avoid the words “squash” or “nutritious” at any point in the conversation).
Cinnamon-Spiced Butternut Bread
Butternut and acorn squash (the winter squash puree is a blend of both) and pumpkin are all rich in complex carbohydrates, low in saturated fat, and good sources of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium.
3 cups white whole wheat flour (see my note)
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2/3 cup canola oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 12-ounce package frozen winter squash puree, thawed (or use 1 and 1/2 cups canned solid pack pumpkin)
1/3 cup lowfat buttermilk
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit or chopped nuts of choice
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans with nonstick baking spray with flour (see note below); set aside.
In a large bowl whisk the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, cloves and nutmeg; make a well in center of mixture. In a medium bowl whisk the oil, eggs, thawed squash and buttermilk until smooth. Add squash mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. If desired, fold in dried fruit or nuts. Spoon batter into prepared pans, smoothing tops.
Bake 55-65 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool loaves in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack; remove loaves from pans and cool completely on wire rack. Makes 2 loaves, 16 slices per loaf.
Nutrition per Serving (1 slice):
Calories 159; Fat 3.6g (sat 0.7g, mono 2.8g, poly .8g); Protein 2.6g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Carbohydrate 24.4g; Sodium 260 mg.
(Note: I did the nutrition analysis using Diet Analysis Plus 7.0.1)
(1) The bread can be made ahead. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature 1 day or freeze up to 2 months.
(2) White whole wheat flour is now available at most grocery stores (even little ones, like mine). If you can’t find it, use all-purpose flour, whole wheat pastry flour or a blend of 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.
(3) Nonstick baking spray with flour is the same as nonstick cooking spray, only with the addition of flour in the spray. It eliminates the step of greasing and flouring cake pans, saving time as well as significant fat and calories. The two most common brands are Bakers Joy® and PAM® For Baking. If you have ever had half of a cake fall out of the pan, you will want to rush to the store to buy a can asap.