EDITORS NOTE: I originally started working on this recipe during Hurricane Sandy. I thought it would be fun to bake something delicious and healthy. Unfortunately, the version I prepared did not come out so tasty. Sometimes I go a little overboard on the healthy ingredients and forget the basic principles of baking chemistry. So, two tries later, I finally got it right.

As you  may have noticed, I don’t do a whole lot of baking. Mostly because Craig doesn’t like sweets and I don’t really have any dessert lovers in my life to eat up all the goodies. So I loved the idea of baking up smaller portions and freezing the leftovers for when you need a tasty pick me up. This pumpkin bread is filled with filling whole grains and nuts. The recipe will yield enough for 2 9×5 loaf pans or, in this case, a 5 pack of 5.5″x2″ mini loaf pans. I picked up these aluminim loaf pans at the grocery store for like $2-3. So simple. You can also find them on Amazon.

Have ya’ll been checking out what Anuradha over at Baker Street has been up to? She’s killing it with pumpkin lately, Pumpkin Donut Muffins, Pumpkin Espresso Bread and, my favorite, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies. Anyway, I grabbed some pumpkin at Whole Foods yesterday and was inspired to create my own pumpkin treats.

Now we all know I’m not much of a baker, mainly due to my lack of patience and aversion to butter, however I had a blast creating this tasty bread. I wanted something warm, filling and chocolately but I couldn’t let go completely and make a full on dessert so I settled on something decadent made of healthy and quasi-healthy ingredients.

Now most of you are probably sitting there saying, “Dara, what the heck is cacao?” Cacao is the actual bean that is the natural source for all chocolate products. Chocolate is made when cacao is ground into a thick paste and milk, sugar, and other things are added. Nibs are partially ground, unprocessed cacao beans. They have a crunchy, nutty, almost coffee-like taste. There is a hit of bitterness but an overall complex flavor. What makes cacao nibs so incredible is that they have the highest antioxidant content of any tested food on the planet. More antioxidants the blueberries, red wine and green tea! In fact, a serving of cacao nibs has 4x the antioxidants found in a cup of green tea.

A few months ago, Craig came home from the store with a big bag of cacao nibs. At first, we both tried them raw and they were just too bitter and strange tasting. I loved the IDEA of them, so I didn’t give up. Turns out baking with cacao is a great way to incorporate this healthy ingredient into a tasty treat. When baked, they lose a lot of the bitterness and incorporate nicely into a variety of recipes. The flavor is complex without being overpowering. It was the perfect addition to this healthy pumpkin bread.

So I’m making this now and freezing to enjoy for a tasty breakfast or snack. Since the holidays are coming, I know I will appreciate having something simple to throw into the oven.

To freeze: wrap in aluminum foil and then store in freezer bags. Make sure to label!

To defrost: Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes until defrosted and warmed through


Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ⅔ cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup raw sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ milk (I used almond milk)
  • ½ cup cacao nibs (or chocolate chips)
  • ½ cup pecans, chopped
  • cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice
  3. In another mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, puree, oil, milk, cacao and pecans
  4. Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined
  5. Divide mixture in greased mini loaf pans
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until knife comes out clean
  7. Serve warm with cold milk

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