Pumpkin for the Heart and Soul: Pumpkin Spice Bars

 

Pin-Pumpkin Spice Bars Recipe

 

I’m sure it’s a seasonal thing… but I’ve been absolutely craving anything pumpkin since, well, August 1st.

I love all of our beautiful seasons. But there is just something so special about autumn that I tend to rush it a bit. And it isn’t always a popular idea in our house for those who are still enjoying the last respite of summer.

You see, August is the month when some prematurely fall-ish things begin making an appearance in our home. Like – a pumpkin here or there– some scattered “fallen” leaves tucked behind cookbooks, the television remote… Not a lot. Just a taste.

But once school starts … it’s fair warning that pumpkins, acorns, scarlet and golden leaves of all sorts will appear in almost every room of our house.

My menus begin to change as well. Even if it’s a late summer — the warm and savory flavors of autumn begin showing up in all my cooking.

And there is nothing more fall-inspired savory than, pumpkin. There are so many ways to incorporate pumpkin into our favorite seasonal dishes; soups, sauces, stews, sweet goodies… and even our favorite beverages — pumpkin-spiced lattes!

And while we love our sweet indulgences say like, pumpkin pie — the root of the dish, pumpkin, is a nutritional powerhouse. Pumpkin is a whole food, full of amazing nutrients, and when paired with equally nutrient rich spices, like cinnamon, it is a superfood with high amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin A, potassium and more.

As most young, first-time Moms are, I became obsessed with finding ways for my son to eat vegetables. I discovered, quite by accident, that he loved the pumpkin bread at one of our local fast food restaurants.

Soon, I was experimenting at home, trying to recreate that pumpkin bread, only mine would be filled with vegetables. Here is the recipe I made over and over again. I froze it into individual servings, knowing that with each serving, he was getting at least 2-3 servings of vegetables.

Today — we still make these pumpkin bars. And they are just as delicious!

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoons cloves
1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small zucchini, shredded – about 1 cup
2 carrots, peeled and shredded – about 1 cup
4 beaten eggs
1 16-ounce can pumpkin (my favorite is Libby)
1 cup canola oil

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Add shredded zucchini and carrots into the dry ingredients. Mix the eggs, oil and pumpkin in a separate bowl. Gradually add pumpkin mixture to the dry ingredients. Spread batter in an ungreased 15x10x1 baking sheet. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes. Depending on your oven, I always check at about 25 minutes. It is done when a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Because I freeze these, I don’t often put a topping. However, when I serving them, I sift powdered sugar over each serving. A cream cheese frosting is also a wonderful addition and I’ve included a crumb topping that I also love.

Cool completely and cut into 48 bars.

Crumb Topping

2 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups butter (2 stick) melted
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine in a medium bowl with a spatula, mixing until clumps begin to form. Sprinkle over the pumpkin bars and bake as directed.

Written by 

Stephanie Wilson is an author, blogger, publisher, and former television news writer and producer. She lives in the Puget Sound area with her husband and teenage son.