Exactly a year ago today my brother-in-law passed away. It was an untimely death.
We are all told things happen for a reason, but in the past year no one has been able to figure out what that reason is, especially when there are two little kids involved who no longer have their father. Makes you wonder. Why?
I used to think bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people, but now I have learned that bad things happen to good people, sometimes sooner than later, even when they least deserve it. Some shrug it off and say, “that’s life.” That's true, and perhaps you just have to best play the cards you're dealt.
I’ve learned that after any life changing event, the only constant in life is family, and a couple friends if you are really lucky.
I’ve learned that life is a series of ups and downs, that nothing good lasts forever, but neither does the pain.
I’ve learned to enjoy life, even when things may seem rough, they really aren’t. There is always a reason to smile if you search within yourself.
I’ve learned to be grateful for the little things. Health. Family. Friends. Life. Fresh Air. Having a Job. Driving. Strolling. Hot Tea. Dessert. Even Rain, because nothing bad lasts forever. At some point the pain will subside and the sun will shine.
On this somber October 1st, I’m thinking of my late brother-in-law. A guy who truly appreciated my homemade desserts, especially when I reduced the fat, he’d find an excuse to eat not 1 but 2 servings. If he was sitting amongst us today, I would have asked him at 10 PM, “Atul, do you want some chai?” Those words were music to his ears. He would have then nodded his head and said, “that would be wonderful, Honey. Thank you.” We would then have chai and Pumpkin Cake Bars along with the rest of the “Chai Addicts” in our family.
I miss him. We all miss him. He’s not physically with us, but I know he’s with us in spirit because the one thing that does last forever is L-O-V-E!
NUTRITION: Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, Fiber, and Antioxidants. Whole Wheat Flour adds some Fiber and Protein to these Pumpkin Cake Bars.
* These bars are not terribly bad for you given that each bar has 3 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fiber with only 178 calories, you can at least enjoy 1 or 2.
APPROXIMATE NUTRITION PER SERVING w/FROSTING (yields 24 bars):
- Calories: 178 cals
- Fat: 9.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 3 g
- Carbs: 22 g
- Protein: 3 g
- Fiber: 1.5 g
PUMPKIN CAKE BARS w/CREAM CHEESE FROSTING (reduced fat)
(recipe reduced in fat, modified heavily, & adapted from Paula Dean Pumpkin Bars)
~ yields 24 bars @ 350 degrees using a 9”x13” tray
for the cake:
- Organic Eggs – 3
- Sugar – 1 ½ cups
- Organic Canola Oil – ½ cup
- Unsweetened Applesauce – ¾ cup
- Libby’s Pumpkin – 1 (15 oz.) can
- Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – 1 cup
- All-Purpose White Flour – 1 cup
- Baking Powder – 2 tsp
- Baking Soda – 1 tsp
- Ground Cinnamon – 2 tsp
- Nutmeg – ¼ tsp
- Ginger Powder – ¼ tsp
- Salt – 1 tsp
for the frosting:
- Neufchatel Cream Cheese – 1 (8 oz.) package
- Unsalted Butter – ¼ cup (or 4 tbsp)
- Confectioners Sugar – 1 ½ cups
- Pure Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
- Pecans – add a pecan to each bar
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease a baking tray with unsalted butter.
3. In a mixing bowl, add the oil, applesauce, sugar, and canned pumpkin.
4. Once mixed, add 1 egg at a time, total 3. Mix until well combined.
5. Eventually you’ll have this.
6. Add the dry ingredients to the batter… wheat & white flours, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger powder, and salt.
7. Gently swirl the dry ingredients until combined.
8. Mix on low speed and then work your way up until the dry and wet ingredients combine. Do NOT over mix.
9. Your batter is ready.
10. Spread the batter on the baking tray.
11. Into the oven for 40-50 minutes. Since I used applesauce, I baked my pumpkin bars a bit longer for a total of 45 minutes. Oven temperatures may vary so you may want to start checking the bars after 30 minutes.
12. Done. Let the cake cool.
13. Combine the cream cheese and butter until whipped and creamy.
14. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar.
15. Mix until everything is smooth and silky.
16. Once cooled, frost the cake bars and slice into 24 bars.
OVERALL RATING: 5 / 5
Initially I thought these bars were too sweet, but they are perfect. I cut down on the sugar very slightly since unsweetened applesauce contains a little sugar anyway. These bars were enjoyed by my husband, friends, and co-workers, and every single person loved them, I mean, unless they lied to me. People at work even came back for seconds which is telling these bars are really good. Additionally, I used ½ a cup of oil where the recipe called for 1 cup of oil, this in my opinion would make the bars way too greasy and all that fat is truly unnecessary. I substituted applesauce for the ½ cup of oil I skipped and you can’t taste the applesauce whatsoever, but the applesauce does keep the Pumpkin Bars very moist. These Pumpkin Cake Bars made with applesauce, less egg, and some whole wheat flour is a real winner. I'd appreciate your feedback if you make these.
TELL ME: I find that people either love or hate pumpkin? Do you like Pumpkin? What’s your favorite Pumpkin dessert?