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Lighten up with low-fat pumpkin bread

POSTED: October 4, 2013 12:12 p.m.
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This pumpkin-cream cheese bread tastes like it is loaded with calories, but it isn't.

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October finally is here, and a little chill has crept into the air. Shut off the air conditioning, fling open the windows and let fall find its way inside. If you haven’t already, go dig out the light jackets and the Halloween decor and get into the spirit.
I absolutely love this season and all of its sights, sounds and smells — especially the scent of autumn treats baking in the oven.
As most everyone knows, October is the month of the pumpkin. Although they typically are thought of as decorations, pumpkins are delicious and easy to cook with. They are in season right now, and stores are jam-packed with pumpkin-flavored and -themed foods — pies, cookies, pastries, breads and even beer.
Pumpkins, which are in the squash family, are an especially nutritious vegetable. They’re high in vitamin A and beta-carotene and also contain vitamins C and E, calcium and iron.
 I want to share a variation on a recipe that came to me through a friend of a friend. I had seen this recipe for pumpkin cream-cheese bread floating around the Internet for several weeks, and putting a “light spin” on it doesn’t make it any less delicious than other versions of this old-fashion favorite.
At first glance, I noticed it wasn’t really an  unhealthy recipe, but I knew a few simple changes could make it even lighter.
For starters, with the Hinesville Farmers Market still in full swing, and plenty of roadside stands and pumpkin farms nearby, finding fresh local pumpkins to use in place of the canned pumpkin called for in the recipe should be pretty easy.
However, if you prefer the ease of using the canned variety, be sure to look for 100 percent natural pumpkin with no added preservatives. Some off-brand products add “extras” that you might not think twice about unless you read the labels carefully.
The recipe calls for white sugar in both the bread base and the cream-cheese filling, but using a baking-sugar substitute would provide the same flavor with fewer carbs. There are many sugar alternatives to choose from these days, and they usually are reasonably priced, making the transition easier. Be sure to follow the package directions. Some sugar substitutes measure tablespoon for tablespoon like sugar, but many do not. You’ll need to convert your  measurement based on the ratio listed.
Reduced-fat cream cheese is a smart choice, but going straight to fat-free is your best bet. The consistency is not quite the same as regular cream cheese. It is not as creamy, but in a recipe like this, where the cream cheese is beaten into the other ingredients, you likely will not be able to tell the difference. Plus, you’ve cut even more fat from this already reduced-fat recipe.
There are a host of other ways to tailor this recipe to suit your dietary needs and restrictions, such as making it gluten-or dairy-free, for example. I am sharing the original version that I found online. Experiment with your own ingredients to see how you can transform this bread into a tasty, healthy treat.

 

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