Best Pumpkin Bread: Holiday Flavor Without the Guilt

{By Rebecca Florio}

Looking for holiday recipes that won’t compromise your healthy living goals?

Me too.

Trust me, I am all in favor of holiday flavors – I’ve already had more than my fair share of peppermint mochas and apple crisp. But I’m not a fan of stomach aches, sugar rushes, and nutrition gone out the window from October to January.

So I’m going on a mission. From Thanksgiving to New Years, I am giving all my favorite holiday recipes a healthy boost. Whole grains, antioxidants, and natural ingredients, are donning festive apparel. Move bon bons and teeth-hurting sugar bombs – nutrition’s moving in.

makingpumpkinbreadThis pumpkin bread is a great example of how a classic seasonal recipe can be revamped. Traditional pumpkin bread is laden with sugar and fat, at over 200 calories a slice. My version swaps out oil for egg whites and applesauce. I cut the sugar content by almost half the original recipe and upped the spices so the flavor is not compromised. Then I sprinkled walnuts and sunflower seeds across the top to add crunch, vitamins and healthy fat.

This bread is moist and hearty. Perfect just out of the oven, with a mug of apple cider on a crisp November evening. Guilt is not invited.

The Best Pumpkin Bread

~ adapted from


  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ c whole-wheat flour
  • ½ T baking powder
  • 1 t baking soda
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • ¼ t. cloves
  • ¼ t. nutmeg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ c. unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ c. almond milk or skim milk
  • 2/3 c light brown sugar
  • 1 ½ c canned pumpkin puree
  • ¼ c. walnuts, chopped
  • ¼ c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 2 t. brown sugar
  • 1 t. flour
  • 1 t. cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 1 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.pumpkinbread
  2. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites, brown sugar, applesauce, milk and pumpkin. Add the pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  3. In a small bowl, toss together walnuts, sunflower seeds, 2 t. brown sugar, 1 t. flour, and 1 t. cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture over the top of pumpkin bread pan.
  4. Bake  until the top of the loaf is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Turn the loaves out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Tis the season to be healthy.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.