Yesterday I experienced a little post-Halloween horror. Pumpkins were involved.
It was late afternoon, and the sky was overcast, lending a dim grayness to the inside of our abode. Hearing an unfamiliar voice emitting from the back of the house, I wandered towards it, inexplicably drawn to the obnoxious sound.
It was emanating from my younger brother’s computer. On the screen was a virtual diner, where only one customer was seated at the bar. My brother gleefully informed me that that plump, squat, orange-faced customer was “The Hungry Pumpkin.”
The object of the game was to serve him what he demanded. He didn’t bother with politeness. If he drawled, in his strange mix-up of Bostonian and Midwestern dialects, “give me the salt,” and you instead presented him with the eggs or the soda, he shoved the offending grub into the middle of next week and barked, “no! I don’t want that,” before repeating his command. Since this game appeared to be intended for children, I wondered if the behavior of its star character was appropriate.
Hypnotized by the sheer weirdness of the game, I watched my brother play for a while. When a whole canister of salt was guzzled by the personified squash, followed by a glass of water which he easily crunched and guzzled whole, I wanted to leave. But I was paralyzed, fixed on the screen, wondering what this charismatically disgusting character would do next.
He requested the butter, in a smooth, seductive tone. When he popped the whole stick in his pie-hole, I wanted to bolt. I stayed just long enough to witness him munch a whole box of French fries, cardboard and all. Then I came to my senses and escaped, scarred for life by the image of such extreme digital gluttony.
I had to exact my revenge upon the winter squash whose memory haunted me. But how?
Let’s just say the next delicious baked good I pulled out of the oven was infused with the distinct flavor of pureed pumpkin.
Take this one piece of advice from my harrowing tale: don’t be like the hungry pumpkin, mindlessly binging on tubs of butter and cans of soda. Be mindful of your choices every day, and strike a balance between the delicious and the nutritious, so neither becomes overpowering.
To aid you in this endeavor, here’s a recipe for a lower-fat, naturally-sweetened, high-vitamin-A, whole wheat pumpkin carrot cake. With a one-ingredient yogurt icing and plenty of hearty shredded carrot, juicy dried fruit, and crunchy nuts mixed in, these little squares of heaven are tasty and healthy. You’ll need some fresh pumpkin puree for this recipe, so feel free to smash any obnoxious pumpkins who try to invade your diner.
Hearty Pumpkin Cake Bars
makes 6-12 servings
based on recipe from Allrecipes
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- generous dash cinnamon
- splash of nutmeg
- splash of ginger
- egg substitute equivalent to 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk of choice (I used plain almond milk)
- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree
- 1/4 cup organic honey
- 2 tbs organic blue agave
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 9 oz (several big handfuls) shredded carrots
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 1/4 cup Sun Maid brand Mixed Jumbo Raisins
- 2 tbs dried cranberries
- 1 container Oikos brand Pumpkin Pie flavored Traditional Greek Yogurt (or other Greek pumpkin yogurt of your choice)
- 2 tbs sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 tbs dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Spray a mini loaf pan generously with cooking spray (or try a 9″ square cake pan, as used in the original recipe.)
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, and spices. Mix.
Add egg substitute, milk, pumpkin puree, honey, agave, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.
Add shredded carrots, pecans, raisins and cranberries. Stir.
Pour batter into prepared baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow cake to cool. Then, spread yogurt evenly on top as a frosting. Sprinkle on coconut and cranberries.