Healthy Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars (GF + V)
Updated: Nov 3, 2022
Heading into the holiday season, it can be challenging sticking to your guns when it comes to eating toward your health and fitness goals. That’s why I’ve concocted this healthy pumpkin butterscotch bars recipe!
Easy to make and full of beneficial nutrients, these pumpkin butterscotch bars feed your body with essential nutrients and your soul with a subtly sweet taste from the butterscotch chips that have you coming back for more. And not the uncontrollable sugar-crazed coming back for more---no, these bars will have you coming back for more because you love the taste and how it fuels your health goals.
What’s The Deal With Sugar Cravings?
Research has shown that sugar can coincide with the same reward system in the brain as cocaine and other street drugs do. The intense sweetness can surpass the cocaine reward, and in the study, it was discovered that it could surpass the cocaine reward in drug-sensitized and drug-addicted individuals!
There are a variety of causes for sugar cravings, like blood sugar highs and lows, that can encourage sugar cravings.
One of the most common causes is eating sugar. Sugar consumption activates the body’s reward system, the mesolimbic dopamine system. This feel-good chemical messenger reinforces the desire for more sugar. A study found that 86% of people who have food cravings crave high-calorie foods. Another study confirmed that Americans overconsume sugar, which raises the risk for type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, heart disease, and obesity.
The great news is that leaning toward foods high in fiber and protein can stave off these often intense cravings. Ample amounts of these nutrients are shown to maintain blood sugar levels, increase satiety, and reduce sugar cravings. For example, a recent study in 2020 discovered that eating an average of 35g of fiber a day improved blood sugar markers compared to people who average 19g of fiber a day.
And these healthy pumpkin butterscotch bars are packed with fiber and protein, helping fight off sugar cravings while enjoying a tasty sweet holiday-season-inspired dessert treat!
Why Is It Considered “Healthy”?
These pumpkin butterscotch bars take out processed ingredients like sugar and store-bought mixes full of filler ingredients and replace them with all-natural ingredients (minus the butterscotch chips). These ingredients are full of antioxidants and nutrients that fuel the body to fight against disease and infection while improving overall health.
These pumpkin butterscotch bars are an excellent replacement for highly processed and sugar-ized desserts for those looking for a healthier alternative during the holiday season.
What’s In The Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars?
So, what are in these pumpkin butterscotch bars, and what do these ingredients do for you? Let’s get into it!
To make this recipe vegan, we’ll use flax eggs instead of eggs. To make flax eggs, combine ground flaxseed and water. Then, let it sit to thicken before adding it to the recipe.
Flaxseed is high in fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans, a phytochemical that lowers the risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and osteoporosis. Vegans frequently use this nutritious seed to replace eggs in baking recipes, though it can also be added on top of salads or in smoothies for a powerful boost of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
High in protein and monounsaturated fats, almond flour replaces all-purpose flour in this recipe for a more nutritionally powerful alternative.
Made from ground almonds, almond flour still holds the same nutritional value as its whole counterparts. Rich antioxidants, like vitamin E, are linked to lower heart disease rates and Alzheimer’s. These antioxidants fight off free radicals that cause damage, accelerate aging, and increase the risk of cancer and heart disease.
It’s important to note that almond flour is not interchangeable with other flour! It absorbs more moisture than all-purpose flour, so replacing the almond flour with all-purpose flour or coconut flour will result in a failed baking work of art.
This isn’t Betty Crocker’s maple syrup, where the label contains more than one ingredient. Instead, we’re talking all-natural pure maple syrup!
Pure maple syrup is set apart from refined sugar thanks to the minerals and antioxidants it holds. From minerals like zinc and manganese, maple syrup is rich in nutrients and a great alternative to refined sugar.
Maple sugar naturally contains sugar, making it a more natural alternative to refined, processed sugar. Still, it’s vital to note that too much sugar can lead to obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Thankfully this recipe only contains 1⁄4 cup in the entire recipe, so it evens out, retaining its replacement as a healthier, natural sugar alternative.
You can’t make pumpkin bars without pumpkin!
Pumpkin is the all-time holiday season must-have. Low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals. Pumpkin is one of the best sources of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer, protects against asthma and heart disease, and reduces age-related macular degeneration, which affects a person’s central vision.
This bright-orange fall season icon is also full of potassium, fiber, and vitamin C to support heart health. And it acts as a great baking ingredient, adding the perfect amount of gooey moisture to dessert recipes.
Pumpkin spice combines ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg, all full of powerful antioxidants, most notably in cinnamon.
Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which slows down the growth of cancerous cells and has antibacterial properties and other antioxidants that reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure. As a result, nutmeg can soothe indigestion, detoxify the body, reduce insomnia, prevent leukemia, and many more significant health benefits with its consumption!
Allspice has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, and anti-cancer properties. Another popular superfood, ginger, can prevent stroke and heart disease, manage nausea, boost the immune system, and work as an anti-inflammatory.
Coconut oil can help increase satiety by slowing down the process of other foods' conversion into sugar in the bloodstream. The consumption of coconut oil can balance blood sugar to combat sugar cravings.
Its health benefits include helping treat Alzheimer’s, preventing heart disease, reducing high blood pressure, protecting the liver, treating UTI and kidney infection, and reducing inflammation and arthritis.
Healthy Pumpkin Butterscotch Bars
Now that we know how powerful each ingredient in these pumpkin butterscotch bars is, it’s time to start making them and chowing down!
1 Tablespoon Pumpkin Spice
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 ¼ Cups Almond Flour
¼ Cup Butterscotch Chips (I found these vegan butterscotch chips)
¼ Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
½ Cup Pumpkin Puree
2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seed (+ 6 Tablespoons Water)
First, preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the flaxseed eggs and allow them to sit for about five minutes.
Grease an 8″X8″ baking pan and set it aside.
Once the flaxseed eggs are ready, combine the flaxseed eggs, vanilla extract, coconut oil, pumpkin puree, and maple syrup in one mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined.
Then, add in the dry ingredients, the pumpkin spice, salt, baking soda, and almond flour. Mix well.
Add in the butterscotch chips and gently fold them in.
Pour the batter into the greased pan and gently lay it into an even layer.
Bake in the preheated oven for one hour. Depending on your oven, it may need an additional 5-10 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for ten minutes before serving.