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Better-for-You Baking: Maple Pumpkin Bread

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maple syrup bucket

Maple syrup is one of nature’s greatest gifts and mysteries. Doesn’t it absolutely boggle your mind to consider who first thought it would be a good idea to drain sap from a tree and boil it down into syrup? Did you know it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup? We all know maple syrup is blissful on pancakes and waffles, but it is also great for baking and as an all-purpose sweetener, too. Maple syrup as a sweetener fits beautifully into my “better-for-you-baking” approach. Read on to learn all about maple syrup and more about better-for-you-baking.
Maple Pumpkin Bread


I love to bake — and I love to eat sweets and desserts. However, with my weight loss and the big changes in what I eat I need to make adaptations.  I firmly believe desserts belong on a healthy, healthier, or “healthyish” meal plan. Don’t tell me I can’t have something! It only makes me want it more. Enter “better-for-you-baking!”

Better-for-you-baking is a style of baking that uses ingredients in a way that is a little bit better for you than the traditional combinations of ingredients as well as the use of slightly different ingredients. It also includes smaller batches and smaller bakes. Who needs 4 dozen tantalizing temptations, I mean cookies, hanging about? What about a Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe that makes 8 as seen in this month’s Eating Well magazine?

My approach boils down to when and if I can make a recipe a little bit healthier without compromising the integrity of the recipe or the way it tastes, then why not do it? However, let’s get one thing clear. There are absolutely zero reasons for me to change my Mama’s Poundcake or my Peach Upside Down Cake Not everything needs to be “fixed.” In those instances, I leave the recipe alone and make adjustments with my serving size through portion control.

maple pumpkin bread

What does Glycemic mean?

Maple syrup fits in perfectly as a sweetener with my better-for-you-baking.  Maple syrup is a type of low glycemic sugar. What does glycemic mean? Blood sugar and insulin levels rise when you eat something containing carbohydrates. How fast and how high how fast depends on the food.  The glycemic index measures how quickly a certain food raises blood sugar levels. Pure maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54! White table sugar has a glycemic index of 64 or 65. Foods with a glycemic index of 55 or below are considered to be low glycemic foods.

According to the Harvard Medical School low glycemic foods help you feel full longer; help keep blood sugar more even. The glycemic index of a diet can affect health in various ways. Some of the latest studies suggest that:

  • a low glycemic index diet can help maintain weight loss.
  • a high glycemic index increases the risk of breast, prostate, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.
  • a high glycemic index diet increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


How to Make Maple Pumpkin Bread on Instagram

Maple Pumpkin Bread

Weight Loss and Health

It’s important to remember that “healthy” is NOT solely about weight loss. I am much happier in my new body. I am thrilled my weight loss has resulted in a lower number on the scale and a smaller pants size– but the numbers that really matter are the numbers on the bloodwork results. My numbers are better than they were over 10 years ago! That’s what really matters.


virginia willis
Photo by Terry Allen xoxo

Point it Out

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you enjoy my recipe for Maple Pumpkin Bread! DO know that it is more savory than sweet. It’s great for as a breakfast bread or as a nibble with a cup of tea. It could most certainly work as dessert, too with a dollop of maple-sweetened whipped cream or yogurt.

WW aka Weight Watchers has changed the point system and it’s more individualized, now. SO, I am not sure how it will work out for you, but for my plan, it’s about 4 points a slice.

Lastly, make sure to check out the Zoar Tapatree website. I love what they are doing. You can use their artisan small-batch crafted maple syrup in all sorts of things — yes, even sweet tea!

Bon Appétit, Y’all

Virginia Willis

maple pumpkin bread


Better-for-You Maple Pumpkin Bread

This dump-and-stir quickbread is good and good for you thanks to my better-for-you-baking approach. It's lovely for breakfast with a judicious swipe of unsalted butter. The recipe calls for pumpkin spice, but you can also use cinnamon or quatre epice, a pepper heavy French spice blend available through Penzey's.
This bread comes in around 4 points a slice on my WW points plan.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Course: Appetizer, bread, Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Keyword: maple, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice, quickbread
Servings: 16
Author: Virginia Willis


  • Baking spray
  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, cinnnamon, or quatre epice
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons old fashioned rolled oats


  • Heat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5 loaf pan with baking spray. In a large bowl, combine the canned pumpkin, butter, egg, yogurt, maple syrup, vanilla, baking soda, spices, and salt. Stir until smooth. Add the flour and stir to combine. Transfer to prepared loaf pan. Using a spatula, smooth the batter, then scatter the oats over the top. Transfer to the heated oven and bake, rotating once, until risen and dark golden brown, about 1 hour. (The temperature should register above 200°F when measured with an instant read thermometer.) Remove to a rack to cool slightly. Stores in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.

If you try this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #virginiawillis on Instagram.

Heads up! I am not a doctor, RD, or health professional nor am I an official WW ambassador or representative. I am simply sharing what works for me. Thanks for reading!

If you are interested in hosting me for a speaking engagement, event, cooking class, or a book signing, let me know! Send an email to and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

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Virginia Willis

Georgia-born French-trained Chef Virginia Willis’ biography includes making chocolate chip cookies with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, foraging for berries in the Alaskan wilderness, harvesting capers in the shadow of a smoldering volcano in Sicily, and hunting for truffles in France. She is talent and chef-instructor for the digital streaming platform Food Network Kitchen. Her segments feature authentic and innovative Southern cooking. She was the celebrity chef at the Mansion at Churchill Downs for the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby. Virginia has spoken at SXSW, cooked for the James Beard Foundation, and beguiled celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Morgan Freeman, and Jane Fonda with her cooking — but it all started in her grandmother’s country kitchen. Recently, her work has been inspired by her weight loss success story, Virginia has lost 65# and kept it off for over 2 1/2 years! “If a French-trained, Southern chef can do it, you can, too.” She is the author of Fresh Start; Secrets of the Southern Table; Lighten Up, Y’all; Bon Appétit, Y’all; Basic to Brilliant, Y’all; Okra; and Grits. Lighten Up, Y’all won a James Beard Foundation Award of Excellence in the Focus on Health Category. Lighten Up, Y’all as well as her first cookbook, Bon Appétit, Y’all, were finalists in the Best American Cookbook for the International Association of Cookbook Awards and were also named by the Georgia Center of the Book as “Books Georgians Should Read.” She is the former TV kitchen director for Martha Stewart Living, Bobby Flay, and Nathalie Dupree; has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants; and traveled the world producing food stories – from making cheese in California to escargot farming in France. She has appeared on Food Network’s Chopped, CBS This Morning, Fox Family and Friends, Martha Stewart Living, and as a judge on Throwdown with Bobby Flay. She’s been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People Magazine, Eater, and Food52 and has contributed to Eating Well, GRLSQUASH, Culture, Garden & Gun, and Bon Appétit, and more. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Her legion of fans loves her down-to-earth attitude, approachable spirit, and traveling exploits. Her culinary consulting company, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc specializes in content creation, recipe development, culinary editorial and production services, cookbook writing, media training, spokesperson and brand representation, and public speaking. Virginia is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Blue Ribbon Task Force, the Atlanta Community Food Bank Advisory Board, as well as the Community Farmers Market Advisory Board. She is a food and hunger advocate for No Kid Hungry and a premier member of the No Kid Hungry Atlanta Society. She a member of The James Beard Foundation, Chef’s Collaborative, Georgia Organics, and Southern Foodways Alliance.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. KimD

    It is in the oven! Can’t wait to taste it.

    1. KimD

      It is out of the oven and just a perfect balance of flavors. Will make again.

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