A couple weeks ago when it was still warm enough to make you sweat, we stopped by a lemonade stand on the corner of the street. We chatted with and met new neighbors. I was juggling a cup of lemonade and a nap-ready, wiggly baby while trying to keep four new names straight. (I’m abnormally good with faces but adversely awful with names.) A homeless woman walked up, put her change down on the table without hesitation, and walked away with a cup of lemonade in hand and a smile on her face. My mind was a thousand different places, but present enough to absorb that brief moment.
Shortly after, I headed home to put Hallie down for a nap. I couldn’t stop thinking about the woman and the lemonade. I was mad at myself for not digging out my wallet to pay for her drink, though she didn’t ask. It didn’t even cross my mind initially. Yet I was amazed she spent what was probably half the money in her pocket, to her name, on a cup of lemonade.
Food is a basic need, no matter your socio-economic status. But good food, real food, isn’t readily available for all paycheck sizes. You can skimp on clothes and housing without compromising your health. But when it comes to food, the inexpensive, affordable variety is typically nutrient-stripped, boxed, and over-processed. It’s the kind that leaves you hungry, growling, sluggish, and empty.
We have plenty in this house. Far more than plenty. All of our basic needs are met, most times in excess. We invest quite a bit of money on our grocery bill, even more so after bringing Hal into the world. I want to fuel that little body with the good, fresh, nutrient-rich stuff. But that’s not an option for some of my neighbors.
I’m teaming up with the Greater Twin Cities United Way on their Stop the Growl campaign to help bring awareness to the hunger issue. The stats are alarming—20% of families in the Twin Cities struggle with hunger, that’s 1 and 5 families. It gives me the chills. And not the good kind. Hunger isn’t necessarily a lack quantity. It’s a lack of quality.
At a basic level, food is made up of calories. Calories equal energy. When we eat good calories, our bodies (typically) work well. When we eat bad calories, our bodies function poorly. Food is more than just 3 social meals a day. It’s a basic need. If you live in the Twin Cities area, consider supporting the Stop the Growl campaign to help make good food more accessible to everyone. $10 buys one week of fresh produce and healthy groceries for a family in need. $40 buys a month.
I’ve based this recipe off of my favorite banana bread. It’s quick, comes together fairly easy, and always bakes through without burned edges. A slice of this bread is a bit of a treat over here. But, as usual, I’ve snuck in wheat flour and yogurt for added nutrients. Though they have nothing on the nutritional benefits of pumpkin.
1/3 c. liquid (1 part plain yogurt and 2 parts milk)
1 large egg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 tbsp. salted butter
1 tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
handful of pepita seeds
Preheat oven to 300°. Lightly butter or spray loaf pan. Set aside.
In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Turn heat to medium-low and continue to cook until browned and golden, swirling occasionally*. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves**.
Into cooled butter, whisk in pumpkin, yogurt/milk, egg, and vanilla until well combined.
Pour pumpkin mixture into flour mixture, and stir together until just combined. Over stirring will create a dense, tough loaf.
Make the crumb topping. In a small bowl, combine ingredients. Using your fingers or a fork, mash together butter, flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Distribute crumble evenly over batter. Sprinkle pepita seeds.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan completely. Removing too early sometimes results in a broken loaf. Carefully loosen from pan and invert. Serve or store lightly covered for up to 4 days.
*If browning butter makes you nervous or if you need to cut time, just melt the butter and proceed with the recipe as follows.
**If you have pumpkin pie spice on hand, forgo adding the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, and add 1 1/2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice.