Maybe you ask, how could these pumpkin chocolate bars be perfect for weight management, Gabi? Are you kidding?
No, I’m not kidding;)
Of course with pumpkins being one of the main ingredients they make perfect fall desserts even for Halloween or Thanksgiving without taste compromise. Tip: Don’t tell your guests that these squares are also super healthy. For many people the words “healthy” and “delicious” just don’t go together and influence their proper judgement. The same is true if you told them that the bites are clean and vegan; (in fact they are!)
Seriously, these moist clean eating treats are not only super delicious but contain several healthy and filling ingredients. Believe it or not, instead of eating a whole chocolate bar within some minutes, you can satisfy your cravings for chocolate with one or two pumpkin chocolate bars. Ok, my hubby and dad could eat quite a few more…But if you are eating mindfully and combine these slices with a great cup of coffee you’ll experience already after one or two bites a wonderful satiation effect.
Pumpkin chocolate bars: perfect treat for emotional eaters
Do you tend to emotional overeating like over 50% of my readers do? The best way to stop emotional overeating is to find the root of it and develop better coping strategies when the trigger for emotional overeating occurs. Click here to take the quiz and find out your type of emotional eater and get your action plan.
But while you are researching better coping strategies you can also test out healthier treats than those you usually grab when you overeat.
Any wholesome food will activate your reward system!
Probably you know from own experience that highly palatable foods (chocolate, ice cream, cheese cake) can really calm you down. They activate the reward circuits of your brain by the release of neurotransmitters like e.g. the “happy hormone” dopamine. While it is true that your favorite junk foods activate the neurochemical signals more reliably than less tasty substances, any wholesome food will activate the reward pathway after a period of food deprivation. You can use this knowledge to your advantage by always having some healthier but yummy treats at hand.
You might want to start with the pumpkin bar recipe below!
- 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice (or combine cinnamon, grated ginger and some nutmeg)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 1 cup dark chocolate with 80% cocoa, chopped into small chunks (or dark chocolate chips)
- 1 ½ cups pumpkin puree (cans or self made)
- 1 tablespoon chia seed soaked with 3 TBSP water)
- 1 cup honey or pure maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 325 °F/160 °C
- In a small bowl combine well whole wheat flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt.
- In another bowl mix olive oil with honey until smooth and light.
- Add soaked chia seeds to the mixture and stir until well combined.
- Then stir in pumpkin puree.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet and stir until combined.
- Stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips.
- Line a square pan (9”x13”/22x33 cm) with parchment paper.
- Turn batter out in prepared pan, using a spatula to smooth the top lightly.
- Bake for about 30 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out without batter.
- Allow to cool in pan for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.
- These bars taste even better after one or two days.
- You can also store them in your freezer for up to 3 months.
Healthy pumpkin bars variation tip
I used for this pumpkin bar recipe dark chocolate with 80% cocoa and chopped into small chunks with my food processor. The darker the chocolate the less sugar it contains. You could also use dark chocolate chips resulting in a yellowish batter with visible chocolate chunks. But I love the fact that my pumpkin bars resemble chocolate brownies.
Hard to guess ingredients
Not all clean eating treats might work for you but it is worth to experiment a bit until you find palatable, healthier choices. And I’m convinced that these pumpkin chocolate bars have a huge chance to appease your sweet tooth.
How do I know?
When I asked my three most important men in the world (hubby, dad and brother) to guess the ingredients of the squares, the only thing they could reliably guess after tasting was – chocolate and “Christmas spices”. Did I mention that all three men are chocoholics? Nor did my chocolate connoisseurs taste whole wheat flour nor pumpkin puree, let alone chia seeds or olive oil…
But as you’ve seen, I’ve baked all these healthy ingredients into my mouth-watering, easy pumpkin bars which they grab like they were their favorite chocolate brownies. When my teenage daughter tasted them she was immediately hooked too. If adult men and teenage girls can be trapped, I’m sure that these wholesome slices would work wonders for kids too;)