Pumpkin Cardamom Bread with Cinnamon Pepitas (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


Apparently I have been downgraded. Yes, my friends, sad but true. I did not spend enough money at Starbucks over the past year to remain in the Gold Level, so I have been downgraded to the lowly Green Level. I blame my children. See, my children adore Starbucks, and it’s gotten to the point where if I pull into the parking lot, my almost-2-year-old starts clapping her hands and saying “YAY!”. Which means that if I go to Starbucks, I have to buy them all something. Well, of course, I can say no, and with the older two, it’s much easier to set the expectation that I am just getting coffee and we will be on our way. They are actually pretty good about it. But almost-2-year-olds are a tad harder to reason with. So I started avoiding Starbucks unless I was unaccompanied by children. Which until this fall was, um, never. I guess that’s one way to break a Starbucks habit!

One of the treats my children loved from Starbucks was the pumpkin bread. It’s not hard to imagine why…it’s very moist and flavourful and very, VERY sweet. When I bought it, I usually got one to split between the three of them. I’ve been promising to make them some since last winter, because I knew I could make a tasty version that was a whole lot better for them. But I was completely unable to find canned pumpkin in my area. I checked three different grocery stores AND Trader Joe’s, and there wasn’t a single can on the shelves. I figured that once school started and the Halloween stuff appeared, I’d be able to find pumpkin, but it still wasn’t there. Finally, in one store in the organic section, I managed to find a few rather pricey cans. Given how hard I searched for them, I decided that it was worth coughing up the dough so that I could finally make good on my promise.

But by that time, my plans had changed. See, at first I was going to make them regular, albeit slightly healthified, pumpkin bread. You know, the sort made with sugar and flour and the typical pumpkin pie spices. But as the weather had turned somewhat chilly and more fall-like, I found myself in the mood for some pumpkin bread too. And of course, even a slightly healthified flour/sugar pumpkin bread won’t do for a diabetic. So I decided to take a stab at a low carb, gluten free version. And somewhere along the way, I don’t know exactly where, I decided to forego the typical pumpkin pie spices and use cardamom instead. I’ve fallen hard and fast for cardamom and love its exotic, warming flavour. It just seemed like it would be a great complement to the pumpkin in a fall-themed baked good.

The Results: Well, I for one loved this. I loved the exotic kick of the cardamom and the way the actual flavour of pumpkin wasn’t hidden under a blanket of cinnamon, ginger and cloves. It was deliciously moist and made for a great breakfast with my coffee. It even fueled me through an 8.5 mile run last week (well, 2 pieces did, anyway). My son was not a fan, he was put off by the cardamom, but my oldest daughter loved it. I didn’t try it on my littlest child, as I didn’t want to waste it on her.

I do have one regret with this recipe, however. I severely underestimated the size of the pan and how much batter it would take to fill it up. Next time, I might completely double the amount of batter, because I’d love this bread in tall, skinny slices instead of short, squat ones. I am sure it would take a lot more baking to cook through, though. So I will write up the recipe as I made it, and you can do as you see fit.

Pumpkin Cardamom Bread

Cinnamon Pepitas:
1 tsp butter
3 tbsp pepitas (shelled pumpkin seeds)
2 tsp granulated erythritol
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/3 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 large eggs
3 tbsp almond milk
10 drops stevia extract

For the pepitas, melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas, erythritol and cinnamon and toss to combine. Cook and stir until erythritol is melted, about 4 minutes, then remove from heat and set aside.

For the bread, preheat oven to 325F and grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond flour, protein powder, erythritol, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, xanthan gum and salt. In a large bowl, beat pumpkin and coconut oil until smooth. Beat in eggs, almond milk and stevia until combined.

Add almond flour mixture to pumpkin and stir until batter is just combined. Spread in prepared pan and sprinkle with cinnamon pepitas, pressing lightly to adhere. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until top is set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Serves 10. Each serving has 6.2 g total carbs, and 2.5 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.7 g.

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  1. Curt says

    Wow, that looks awesome. The pumpkin seeds on there absolutely puts this one over the top.

    I could easily sit down and eat half the loaf for breakfast.

  2. GrammyK says

    Over the past few years we've seen some empty spots on the grocery store shelves too where the canned pumpkin was supposed to be. So if you're ever in that position again and you're really desperate–my mother-in-law shared this secret with me… You can use fresh acorn or butternut squash (pumpkins are technically a squash) as a substitute. Just cut them in half, scoop out the seeds, roast in the oven until a fork easily goes through it, cool and scoop the flesh off of the rind. And we like it this way better anyway. So we only buy canned pumpkin in a pinch now when we don't have time to roast the squash. Note: The squash tends to be a bit jucier than the canned pumpkin. Adjust accordingly or just enjoy a moister product. :-)

  3. Lolly @ Lolly's Sweet Treats says

    Yum! I love Starbuck's pumpkin bread. I, too, have been having trouble finding canned pumpkin. It's a hot item right now!

  4. Pretend Chef says

    I didn't know Starbucks had "levels". Haha! Shows how often I go there. Maybe twice a year. This pumpkin bread looks so delicious. I am happy that I grabbed two cans of pumpkin before the shelves became bare. I would love to give this a try sometime soon. Yummy!

  5. Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie says

    I need to stock up on more pumpkin! Or be awesome like my dad and make it myself from a fresh pumpkin and freeze it. Maybe I can commission him to make a big batch for me… O:-). Anyway love that you put cinnamon pepitas on top, so yummy!

  6. Stephanie @ Eat. Drink. Love. says

    What a great twist on pumpkin bread! I bet it's fabulous with the cardamom. I have one can of pumpkin left in my pantry and now I am so worried I won't be able to get more! I'm gonna stock up this weekend for sure (if I can!).

  7. Divya says

    Yay! You use cardamom too! I'm slowly becoming addicted to it. It goes well with not only desserts, but some savory dishes too.

  8. RavieNomNoms says

    I have never used Cardamom….this looks so great though. I want to try and make this. Where do you find the Cardamom? Is that totally silly to ask? haha I have never seen it before

  9. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says

    Carolyn, the cardamom is inspired and I love the crunch of the pepitas. These ingredients make me glad it's Autumn.

  10. Lindselicious says

    Wow looks extremely good – and love that its low carb. I have to look into getting some of those more random ingredients (erythritol and gum). I love pumpkin bread and a healthy one would be awesome!!

  11. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    I've had to avoid Starbucks too, I can't believe how much money I've spent there. I do love recreating my favourites at home though. Your pumpkin bread sounds amazing!

    I'm also very curious as to why it's so hard to find pumpkin in your area.. there are plenty of cans here.

  12. Nicole says

    What a beautiful loaf :) I've been going nuts for pumpkin lately–it's that time of year! Beautiful photos. I bet the cardamom really works wonders in this bread.

  13. Kari says

    I've never had pumpkin bread (pumpkin products are much less common in Australian than the US, sadly) but this looks amazing. And much better than the Starbuck's version, I have no doubt!

  14. Ann says

    You did a great job! I love the idea of cinnamon pumpkin seeds, but I'd have to skip the cinnamon due to allergies….this is beautiful! Thanks for sharing

    (sorry about the starbucks downgrade)

  15. Karen says

    I didn't even know there were "levels" at Starbucks!!! Where have I been??
    I can't believe it's already time for pumpkin, but I'm ready! This bread looks perfect…I like that it's not covered up with all the spices. Sounds great!

  16. Rosemary says

    Perfectly genius using cardamom. I love it too. Last year, during the pumpkin drought, a friend gave me cans of pumpkin she had hoarded for my birthday! Wish I still had them to try this. I'll be shopping. And the seeds on top! Another great idea!

  17. Lauren at Keep It Sweet says

    I love that your 2-year old loves starbucks lol!

    This pumpkin bread looks wonderful and flavorful. Such a great idea to use the cardamom for a change.

  18. kitchenarian says

    I love pumpkin bread. The pumpkin seeds on top and the cardamom make for a nice twist to a classic treat. I've just started using cardamom recently and I love it. Sure wish I had some this morning with my coffee.

  19. Cara says

    Oh. My. Cardamom. I am thinking that this is going on the list for next week! Oh who am I kidding? I'm going to make it today and eat ALL of it :) Thanks for this incredible recipe! I can smell it baking already…

  20. The Mom Chef says

    I adore cardamom too. In fact, the hint of cinnamon in the pepitas is more than enough for me. Much as I like the spice, it's a bit over rated and makes too many others take a back seat.

    I'm sorry that this didn't live up to everyone's expectations. Next time that happens, just send me their share, ok?

    To show you how little I go into Starbucks, I didn't even know they HAD levels.

  21. kellypea says

    What fabulous flavors! Cardamom is always a fave — I love the rich citrusy flavor of it and with pumpkin? Nice. I've used pepitas like this as well and they really add a nice crunch to the top. Beautiful loaf.

  22. Eliotseats says

    I have heard somewhere else about a pumpkin shortage????? I have some surplus from last summer in the freezer to use so I will be able to make this. I love cardamom. And I think the cinnamon pepitas are genius.

  23. Charlie says

    I love the idea of using cardamom with pumpkin! While I love pumpkin spice, I do wish I could taste the pumpkin sometimes ;).

  24. Anonymous says

    I love cardamom too and have all the ingredients in the pantry, so will make tomorrow. I'm going to make muffins.

    When I print out your recipes, the type is so small. Any ideas on how I can get it bigger?

    Thanks for all your recipes.

  25. Shirley says

    Oooh, I like the idea of cinnamon pepitas on top! And homemade pumpkin bread has to be better than anything Starbucks ever churns out.

    As for tea at the BPL, I'm not sure any of the offerings are healthy, but they are good! :)

  26. celeste says

    OMG! I am so trying this. My Father passed away 4yrs ago and one of his favorite things was Hot Cardamom bread! His mother made it and while he was under treatment for Non Hodgkins Lymphoma I even tried to bribe him to eat with cardamom waffles. I have severe thyroid issues and have yet to make this bread as I knew id suffer horribly from the side effects. NOW I can have it!!! I just might cry making it. We also made french toast out of the bread that was left over. I bet this would be good that way too! OH you have revived something awesome for this family!!! THANK YOU!! I cant wait to take some to my son!

  27. London says

    Oh Wow! I just made this Pumpkin Bread, all I had around was Almond Meal and it worked. Thank you so much for this delicious recipe….. my husband and I are enjoying your wonderful recipe. I was wondering if you know roughly what the Calories and Protein for each slice would be?

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t, but if you go to myfitnesspal, they have a nutritional calculator and you just add all the ingredients.

  28. Stefanie says

    Hey! I’m thinking of making this bread soon, but I only have unflavored whey protein. Do you think that I could add some vanilla extract to approximate the taste of the vanilla whey protein in the original recipe? If so, how much do you think I should add? Is your vanilla whey protein sweetened?

    • Carolyn says

      You need some sort of dry protein to help it rise, in the absence of gluten. You can use hemp protein or powdered egg whites.

  29. Common Sense says

    For our Mother’s Day brunch today, I used this pumpkin bread as the base for this french toast bake – amazing!


    I made the following subs for the bake:
    1 cup Swerve + 2 tbsp coconut sugar for the brown sugar and corn syrup
    3/4 cup heavy cream and 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk instead of the half-and-half
    pumpkin spice liqueur for the Grand Marnier because that’s what I had on hand

    I saved the pepitas and sprinkled them on half way through.

    Everyone loved it and one person asked for the recipe.

    Thanks for the great recipes and the idea of using coconut sugar for caramelizing. I always keep a jar of your caramel sauce in the fridge, my husband LOVES it.

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