Breakfast-friendly Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite things to do is put a healthy spin on rich recipes. Sure, sometimes you want a decadent cake to serve guests or bring to a potluck. Other times you just want a delicious treat that is slightly more wholesome. One you could say... also eat for breakfast and not feel bad about. One that is a little bit nicer to your body and ehrm waistline.

After taking one look at this recipe for iced pumpkin coffee cake from Sally's Baking Addiction, I was sold. Look at those pictures! Pumpkin anything, yes please. But I didn’t really have an occasion for such a cake. And if I had that at home, all to myself, well I’d surely eat myself sick. So I decided to give her recipe a healthier spin.
To help you do the same to almost any recipe for baked goods (cookies excluded), I’ve compiled a list of my tips and tricks. You can use one or all of them depending on how much you want to clean up the recipe. Baking is a science, but you can still play around a little!
Top tips for healthier baking:
1. Cut the fat: Fat is in recipes for moisture. You can typically replace up to half of the fat with either applesauce or plain, low-fat Greek or regular yogurt without sacrificing moisture or structural integrity. The only thing to remember is that these baked goods will not hold moisture as well as over longer periods of time so consume your treats within two days for the best flavor.
2. Replace bad fat with good fat: Most baking recipes call for butter or vegetable oil. This can generally be replaced with melted coconut oil. Yes, it containes mostly saturated fat, but not all saturated fat is created equally. The lauric acid in coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid unlike the longer-chain ones found in meat and has a neutral affect on heart health. Some research suggests that coconut oil can even improve cholesterol by revving up enzymes that breakdown fats. Read more here.
3. Reduce the sugar: Sugar is there to sweeten things up. You can often cut it back by 1/3 without noticing a big difference. This cuts out empty calories and lessens the ups and downs you get from rising and dropping blood sugar levels.
4. Go a little heavier on the spices: Worried about the recipe turning out bland? Don’t be. Adding spices is a great way to add flavor without adding extra calories. They often have benefits of their own. For instance, studies show that cinnamon may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects, and fight bacteria.
5. Replace some of the AP flour with (white) whole wheat: This flour has the goodness of whole wheat (added fiber and nutrients) but bakes more like AP flour. Because whole wheat flour is denser and heavier, one cup of AP flour is equal to about 3/4 cup of whole wheat. Sometimes you also have to add about ¼ more of the liquid you are working with. Learn how to adapt your recipe accordingly here.
6. Add more of the healthy stuff: Making banana bread? Add more bananas. A pumpkin coffee cake? More pumpkin. If the recipe calls for nuts or oats, add more of them. Keep in mind though that when adding wet ingredients, such as pumpkin, you may want to add more dry or cut down slightly on another wet ingredient. The opposite is true for dry. Also keep in mind that the heavier the extra ingredients are, the more leavenging agents you will need.


2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1½ tsp.ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. cloves

11/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 brown sugar
1/3 white sugar
¼ cup melted coconut oil
¼ cup plain yogurt (low-fat greek is best)
1/3 cup milk
2 eggs
Streusel topping:
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
2 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. salt
2-3 T. melted coconut oil

1.     Preheat oven to 350F/175C. Use coconut oil to grease a 9x9 pan (feel free to use other shapes and adjust baking time according, these would make great muffins!).

2.     In a small bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon then mix with coconut oil and nuts. Set aside.
3.     In a medium bowl, sift all dry ingredients together. Set aside.
4.      In a large bowl, blend pumpkin, sugar, oil, yogurt and milk together until combined. Add one egg at a time and mix until combined. Pour dry ingredients into the wet and stir with a large spoon or spatula using a folding technique until *just* combined. Seriously, BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERMIX. It will get gummy. This is a thick batter.
5.     Pour into pan and bake for 30 minutes. Check if it is done by inserting a toothpick into the center. If it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, it’s done. If there is wet batter on it, bake an addition 5 minutes.


  1. I love this site Dani. Have you experimented with any gluten free recipes?

    1. Glad to hear it! Yes, I have done some gluten-free recipes. The oatmeal bakes can be done with gluten-free oats. The cheesecake crusts are also gluten free, but contain diary. If you are doing paleo, I would suggest blending soaked cashews with banana, some thick coconut cream and honey. As for this recipe specifically, no, I have not made a gluten-free version. I would suggest keeping everything the same, but playing with a combination of gluten-free flours. Here is a great guide to gluten-free flours: http://glutenfreegirl.com/2007/10/a-guide-to-working-with-gluten-free-flours/