Welcome to the fall season, where it’s time to celebrate everything pumpkin! It’s not all about Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, pumpkin pie, or pumpkin pancakes, either. We’re talking fritters, soups, pastas, cakes, or breads: You name it, and we can throw pumpkin into it to make it taste like fall-in-a-bowl. Everyone has a favorite seasonal recipe, and this healthy Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe is definitely one of mine. It’s perfectly tender, filled with warming spices and melty chocolate. It’s the perfect snack to munch on after you’ve spent hours raking up all those fallen leaves!
Over the years, I’ve worked on this recipe little by little. I wasn’t sure I could make a healthier version of pumpkin bread. After all, it tastes good because of all that butter and sugar, right? Then I realized that anything you bake with butter can be made healthier with applesauce. And who needs less-than-healthy all-purpose flour when you can bake with white whole-wheat flour instead? Swap out the sugar by using rich-flavored maple syrup and you have a recipe for healthy pumpkin bread that doesn’t skimp on any of the flavor.
Why This Recipe Works
Before you get started, let’s take a second and talk about the difference between baking soda and baking powder. You see, they’re not the same thing! This recipe calls for baking soda (not the powder) for a very specific reason. It’s important to know the difference because the soda is what makes this recipe work. Both of those products are leaveners, meaning that they make breads, cakes, and muffins rise. Knowing when to use each additive will make you a better baker.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. It’s a basic element, so when it encounters an acid, it creates carbon dioxide and rapidly expands. That reaction is what gives it scrubbing power to make it such a great chemical-free bathroom and kitchen cleaner! In baking, that carbon dioxide leavens your recipe, giving it rise. So, recipes that use baking soda also need to have an acidic ingredients – like applesauce, molasses, buttermilk, yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, or honey.
Baking powder, on the other hand, is made up of baking soda and cream of tartar. Since it already contains an acidic ingredient (cream of tartar), it can be used in recipes that don’t have another acid in the mix. It’s not quite as strong as baking soda, though, so you have to use more of it (about four times more).
Some recipes call for both because the baking soda and acid won’t give the bread enough lift, so the baking powder comes in as an extra boost. For our Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe, we’ll get plenty of leavening from the baking soda alone, so no need for anything extra!
Go Vegan or Gluten-Free
I follow an omnivore’s diet, so I eat just about everything. But, I know many of you out there are on gluten-free, Paleo, or plant-based diets. That’s the great thing about this recipe: you can modify it to make it exactly what you need it to be!
To turn this recipe into a gluten-free recipe, simply substitute an equal amount of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flour for the whole-wheat flour. And, to make it vegan, use flax eggs instead. For each egg, substitute 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed combined with three tablespoons of water. It’s that easy!
Yield: 12 Servings | Serving Size: 1 Slice | Calories: 174 | Total Fat: 5 g | Saturated Fat: 2 g | Trans Fat: 0 g | Carbohydrates: 33 g | Fiber: 4 g | Sugar: 16 g | Protein: 4 g | Cholesterol: 27 mg | Sodium: 1698 mg | SmartPoints (Freestyle): 6
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 cups white whole-wheat flour
- 3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9x5 loaf pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the applesauce, maple syrup, and eggs with a whisk until the mixture is well blended.
- Add the pumpkin puree, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda and whisk until just blended.
- Add the flour and stir with a large silicone spatula until just moistened. Some lumps are okay, but don’t over mix!
- Gently fold in the mini chocolate chips before pouring the batter into the greased loaf pan.
- Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out clean.
- Let the bread cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before slicing.
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