This creamy healthy cashew frosting is tangy and dairy-free and perfect for the traditional spiced pumpkin loaf I made here. Both recipes are dairy-free and vegan.
Cashew Frosting & Spiced Pumpkin Loaf
Cashew frosting is a wonderful invention. Especially in my pumpkin-crazy family. In fact, I just sent off a package to a traveling daughter, and I couldn’t resist adding two mini fresh pumpkins.
I know she will paint an elaborate silly face on them and send me a picture when she’s done. Because that is what we do in our family, we paint faces on pumpkins.
And we eat pumpkin recipes. Nutritionally, that is a good move!
How Healthy Are Pumpkins?
Obviously you are familiar with pumpkins so I won’t spend too much time explaining them. They are a squash and in season in the United States primarily in the fall. They can be opened, the meat used in countless dessert and savory recipes, and the seeds eaten raw or roasted.
If breaking open fresh pumpkins is too much of a chore, buy canned organic pumpkin puree – NOT canned pumpkin pie filling. The puree is just pumpkin. A pumpkin pie filling is full of sugars and other fillers.
Nutritionally, pumpkins are full of antioxidants, fiber and many vitamins, especially vitamins E and A, great for skin and eyes. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, one cup of pumpkin has 1.7 g of protein, 2.7 g of fiber, 49 calories, less than a gram of fat, 12 carbs and zero cholesterol.
And pumpkin bread is so festive in a fall-kind of way.
I come to a skidding stop when I see pumpkins appear at roadside farmer’s market stands because they are fantastic in so many recipes, from frosty ice creams to delicious pumpkin crisps And in this recipe, our favorite, a spicy pumpkin loaf topped with creamy cashew frosting.
How Do You Make Cashew Frosting?
Putting a cashew frosting on a spiced pumpkin bread is the perfect topping. It’s so easy to make. The only tiny prep issue is you’ll want to soak the cashews the night before. Oh, there are recipes that work with cashews that say “boil them!” or “Soak them 4 hours”.
To get the creaminess in this frosting without added ingredients or mixing, you should soak overnight and rinse the next day.
Then blend, chill, blend again. And the perfect cashew frosting sits before you.
How Do You Thicken Cashew Frosting?
You can add yogurt instead of cashew milk. That will thicken and increase the tangy flavor. I never do though; I never seem to have enough yogurt in the refrigerator for recipes. (Peri eats for breakfast and our fluffy pom’s needs come before our needs for dessert, haha)
So another way to thicken the cashew frosting is to simple freeze for 30 minutes just before you want to frost something. Then, remove it from the freezer, hand-mix again until fluffy and it’s ready. Store in a cover container in the refrigerator for a few days if need be.
How To Make Spiced Pumpkin Loaf Healthy
This spiced pumpkin loaf recipe is pretty traditional. It’s dairy-free and vegan of course.
nd I tried to use as much pumpkin puree as I could while still retaining a cake-like texture. The quinoa flour I used helped there. I used quinoa as extra protein in the portion of the flour requirement.
In general, what quinoa brings to a recipe is kind of unreal, and these nutrients stay intact no matter the form quinoa takes, so baking it doesn’t diminish its potency.
It is a good source of protein, fiber, iron, copper, thiamin and vitamin B6, as well as magnesium, sometimes hard to find in a traditional diet.
And we sometimes make these cake even healthier by adding buckwheat groats to the batter topping along with crushed pumpkin seeds.
Buckwheat groats are also awesome, and yet a bit hard to find. You can always find them online by Bob’s Red Mill on Amazon or his site. But lately I have found them in the bulk seeds area of Whole Foods. If you are intrigued by buckwheat, visit my buckwheat energy bar recipe here. I even have a video story on my IG where I demo making the last half of the recipe. You can visit that story here.
Since last year, I have begun adding buckwheat to my diet because they are actually a seed, so perfect for a gluten-free diet, and full of iron and protein.
So now that I have convinced you of my frosting and loaf’s festive nature and nutritional punch, let’s get on with it, and see if you want to include it in your fall recipe list.
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Cashew Frosting & Spiced Pumpkin Loaf
- 1 1/2 cups raw unsalted cashews (soaked overnight)
- 1/2 cup cashew milk
- 3 tbsp coconut butter or coconut oil (melted in the jar in hot water on the stove)
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- pinch of Himalayan salt
- 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (or your favorite flour, you may have to play with the milk amount))
- 2/3 cup quinoa flour (Or use almond flour)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsps baking powder
- pumpkin spices (1 tbsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, and 1/2 tsp allspice)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 2 flax eggs (2 tbsp ground flaxseed+ 6 tbsp water set for 5 minutes)
- 1 small banana
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (ACV) (I use Braggs brand)
- 1/3 cup extra light olive oil
- 1/2 cup plant milk
- 1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- Optional addins: Pumpkins seeds, buckwheat groats
Make the Cashew Cream Frosting
- Soak the raw cashews in water in the refrigerator overnight.The next day, rinse them, and blend with all other ingredients until smooth.
- Taste the mixture and add water if it's dry, more lemon juice if it's not tangy enough, and more maple syrup if it is not sweet enough.
- Cover the container and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Then remove, hand-mix again until smooth.
- Keep refrigerated to keep it firm; and frost a cooled cake, either your own, or make my spiced pumpkin loaf cake, recipe instructions below.
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 8 x 4 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
- Hand-mix dry ingredients in one bowl - flours, soda, powder, spices and salt. Recently I have had success putting all powders in a large sieve and shaking it out over the bowl to mix it up.
- In a larger bowl, mix together pumpkin, flax eggs, coconut sugar, milk, acv, vanilla. Whisk until well incorporated.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredient bowl in 3 parts, blending each part thoroughly before adding the next part. The batter must be like pourable cake batter, if you need more moisture add a few tbsp of plant milk and mix thoroughly.
- Fold in the add-ins such as crushed pumpkin seeds and buckwheat groats.
- Pour batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly with a spoon, banging the pan gently on the counter to remove air bubbles and settle. Sprinkle any toppings you like, such as more crushed pumpkin seeds and sprouted buckwheat.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes (check after 30 minutes) or until test knife comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes. Ice the cake. Enjoy!
Dee Dine is founder of Green Smoothie Gourmet, a plant based recipe blog, and author of the recent cookbook, Crazy Healthy with 4 Ingredients . On this blog you’ll find incredibly easy recipes with hidden veggies for anyone wanting to eat healthier, regardless of diet. Dee has graduate degrees in sciences and journalism. More about Dee Dine here.