Pumpkin Pie Protein Bread
Before I give you this recipe, I want to talk to you guys a bit about food and processing. I want to write about it because, all too often, there’s a big disconnect between our understanding of a lot of the food we eat and our knowledge of its sourcing and production. It’s a bit disturbing when you think about it really. So much of what we take for granted is unknown to us in terms of how it came to be! And most people don’t care to explore the origin and production of their food. They just plate it up and eat it, unreflectively, assuming that it doesn’t really matter. But it does, you know? If only so we can have a clearer picture of how things go from the field to our kitchen (and ultimately into our mouths!)
Now, if we stop for a minute and start thinking about food processing, we can end up in one of two camps: 1. We can freak out and take up a ‘paleo‘ approach, completely avoiding ALL processed foods and shunning everything that our romantized imaginary of the Palaeolithic man depicts as him not having had access to. This includes everything that has been processed – including protein powders, and a bunch of other foods (more on this below). Or 2. We can strive to learn more about where food – ALL food – comes from, how it’s produced, where it’s sourced, and how exactly it impacts our bodies and consequently our health.
I choose the second option every time. I choose it because I hate to be commanded by simplistic guidelines and by fear. What does fear have to do with it? A lot. Fear is one of the reasons why fad diets and movements like the paleo diet have gained a lot of momentum . They capitalize on our lack of understanding of food, its composition, and its production. By mobilizing hyperbole and a type of ‘fear of the unknown’ (in the style of ‘what you’re eating could be killing you!’), paleo proponents justify their backing of a diet comprised exclusively of meats, vegetables, nuts, and naturally-occurring fats. To strong paleo adherents, dairy is noxious to human health and we’re not designed to consume – let alone digest – beans, potatoes, and grains. All processed foods must too be eschewed. SO AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS! Or else…
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot right in what paleo diets promote – namely wholesome, natural, and fresh ingredients that are naturally brimming with nutrients. But what bothers me about it, and the reason I don’t walk around with a ‘paleo label’ affixed to my being, is that instead of educating people so they can understand what’s out there and empower them to make informed decisions about food and what they should choose to eat, they hand out a list of very simplistic directives. They say ‘eat only paleo foods because anything else is bad for you’. I find this approach patronizing.
To me, what we need is education about not only why fruits, meats, and veggies are good for us but also about what everything else that we find out there is, including how it is produced and in some cases, how it is processed. That’s why, below this recipe, you’ll find information regarding the ingredients I used to make this Pumpkin Pie Protein Bread. The information is there to open a bit of a window into what these foods actually are, including how they’re made. I think you’ll find the information interesting!
1 can Pumpkin Puree (See Note 1)
1/2 cup Whey Protein Powder (See Note 2)
1/4 cup Buckwheat flour (See Note 3)
1/4 cup Coconut Sugar (See Note 4)
1/2 cup Liquid Egg Whites
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tbsp Cinnamon
1/2 tbsp Mixed Spice
1. Using a handheld blender, standing blender, or food processor, blend all of the above ingredients together.
2. Bake at 165 C (around 330 F) – in a silicone bread loaf pan (mine was 6.5” x 3”) for around 60-65 minutes or until when stabbed with a knife, your knife comes out clean.
3. Let the bread cool before slicing and enjoy a slice – or two – with some butter, nut butter, honey, and/or banana slices. It’s really soft inside, like a proper pumpkin pie but in bread form – thus the name. Kind of fun, don’t you think?
1. Libby’s canned pumpkin puree features only one ingredient: pumpkin. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, calcium, copper, potassium, iron, phosphorous, poly-phenolic antioxidants, and fiber. Libby’s pumpkin puree is processed though, in the sense that it goes through a commercial production plant which does the pureeing, packing, and sealing of the pumpkin into cans. This doesn’t ‘destroy’ any of the nutrients found in the pumpkin.
2. Protein powder is de facto processed. Cows don’t just spurt out powdered whey and peas (hemp or rice) don’t emit their protein in powder from – it has to be extracted from them. A simplistic take on this – a paleo take on this – would be to say “oh, because it’s processed it’s unnatural and therefore bad for you.” Beh, this is ridiculous. Listen, babies’ formula contains whey and it’s equally ‘processed’. It doesn’t mean that it’s at all deleterious to human health though. Now, the ‘tricky’ part with whey protein powder, and all protein powders for that matter, is the extra stuff that’s commonly thrown in there. It’s this that I think we need to really pay attention to. You know, sweeteners, flavorings, preservatives, fillers, etc. This is the stuff you may choose to avoid – not because it’s going to lead you to an untimely death but because you may prefer to consume your protein powder without anything else added in it.
3. Buckwheat flour is a flour made out of buckwheat, a type of grain. As such, it’s not ‘paleo.’ It is, however, gluten-free! Contrary to what the name may suggest, it’s not made from wheat at all. It’s made from the seeds of a special plant which are then ground up into a powder. It has a LOT of stuff going for it and is a great flour for gluten-free baking.
4. The coconut sugar I use is derived from Coconut Nectar. Its production is really interesting (check it out) and I like it because it really is as natural a sweetener as it gets. Of course, if you boil it down (pun intended, har har), to get the coconut nectar in dry and grainy form, it must be processed. This involves the dehydration of the pulp into a fine grain – or sugar. Nutritionally-speaking, coconut sugar contains more than just carbs. It (moderately but, still) packs all 16 amino acids as well as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and fiber.
Anyways. I hope you found the discussion and the links above useful. I like to write about all this every once in a while because the recipes here at Protein Pow aren’t just designed to cater to our macros and tastebuds. They’re created to pack as much nutrition as humanly possible too. It’s what Pow is about, you know? Ticking all our boxes à la POW! POW! POW!