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on sweet eats

Only once as a child was I made to strongly urged to eat my dessert. Our family of five,  plus my uncle and his new wife were gathered around our maple dining table. Each of our wintry faces was warmed and brightened by the candle’s winking light. Mom, in her fancy apron, her hair pulled back in a thick high ponytail, was beaming. She’d worked hard on this dessert.

Christmas pudding.

Sounds innocuous enough. To some it might even sound a tad romantic.  A dessert of a time past when people cooked in black pots placed on grates in large fireplaces, when people wiped their mouths with their sleeves or aprons, and hunting dogs curled around the legs of the table and caught the scraps that fell.  Everyone basked in the glow of candlelight back then. Christmas pudding….

Ahhh! Lovely, dear!

At first whiff I knew this was going to be nasty. I declined as politely as I could by pushing it away and making a face. “You haven’t even tried it.”   “But I don’t need to, I know I won’t like it!”   “Well, you’re going to try it.”   “See, I told you I wouldn’t like it!”   “Maybe you just need another bite to be sure.”

The story doesn’t end well. I had several bites that night, and then lost a good portion of the dinner I had liked. I had a very weak stomach back then, a nose that could sniff green pepper or alcohol a room away, and a very – discerning – palate for a seven-year-old.

(Don’t think a single dark thought about our Mom. She’s a sweetheart and a mighty fine cook, and I’ve got plenty of stories and recipes to prove it!)

Why are we here then, you ask. Certainly not to share in Mom’s recipe for Christmas Pudding!? (No, our smarter-than-average Mom never made that ghastly thing again.)

 I’m here (once more) to strongly urge you to eat your vegetables – AS your dessert this time! Fortune smiles!

AND you ‘re going to love it – at first bite! (So will seven-year-olds.)



WHY will you love it? (Good of you to ask.) It’s aromatic, tender, light, flavorful, not-dry (I know some people despise the word moist), it’s soft in the mouth, sweet on the tongue – and what? good for you! Warmed for breakfast, packed in a kid’s lunch, a little pick-me-up in the afternoon, a light bit of sweet after dinner. This makes 2 loaves, and you only add ½ cup of sugar – yet it’s delicately sweet. (It does have some fruit butter which has a bit of its own sugar, but we’re not going to hold that against it.) We do like this – ever so much – around our house!


Carrot-Parsnip-Zucchini Bread


1½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour (the white variety of whole wheat works best for tender baked goods like this but any will do)

2 Tablespoons hulled Hemp Seeds (Optional – but so packed nutritionally and with a delicious nutty flavor)

½ cup sugar

1½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground  cloves

1 medium carrot shredded

1 medium parsnip, shredded

1 small zucchini, shredded

3 large eggs

¾ cup apple butter or pumpkin butter (I’ve only made this with pumpkin butter, but either would be equally good)

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon vanilla extract (yes, that much)

2 Tablespoons pumpkins seeds for the top


Preheat the oven to 375°F (180°C) Either oil two 8½ x 4½ inch loaf pans with olive oil or line with parchment paper. (Loaves will lift right out of the pan, cleanly, with parchment paper.)

Wash, peel and grate your vegetables.


about 2-1/2 cups total shredded vegetables will be perfect

In a large bowl, combine the flours, hemp seed, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Stir to combine well. Add the shredded carrots, zucchini and parsnip. Stir to coat the shreds evenly.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, fruit butter of your choice, the olive oil and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined, but be careful not to over-mix which would toughen the loaves.


so liberating to make a mess – as any seven-year-old knows – and it comes easier with practice

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and scatter their tops with pumpkin seeds. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool on wire racks.



Wrap and freeze the second loaf if you won’t be eating it within the next several days. Or share a loaf with a neighbor…or maybe your mom would like a loaf of her own. It’d be a nice way to thank her for all the mostly lovely meals she fixed you.


to print only the recipe, click here.

{ This recipe is slightly adapted from one by Dr. Andrew Weil, MD, in his book True Food }

39 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is a perfect dessert Spree! What a funny story. 🙂 I bet your Mom is a sweetheart too. A lovely recipe that will be a treat for one of my clients who doesn’t like veggies. I think he’ll eat this one though. I’ll definitely be making this for my family. We love carrots, zucchini and parsnips. Delicious!

    January 10, 2013
    • Your client won’t know what hit him (her?) ! You’ve got to be cagey with some of these folks don’t you? When all else fails, subterfuge! Glad it sounds good to you, Katista…Enjoy! 🙂

      January 11, 2013
  2. I loved this story of the infamous Christmas pudding and your nose for green pepper and alcohol. I know my seven-year-old (and all the other-year-olds in my house) are going to LOVE this. Feel so grateful to have been a recipient of a loaf. Can’t wait to enjoy it for dessert and again for breakfast and…it’ll probably be gone by then. What a great, healthy bread!

    January 10, 2013
    • Oh, it’ll be gone all right…:) enjoy!

      January 11, 2013
  3. jacquie #

    oh that does look good.

    i don’t have any apple or pumpkin butter but i do have some unsweetened homemade applesauce – do you think it would work w/ 1/2 of cup of that instead.

    and thanks for not sharing the christmas pudding recipe though i did enjoy the story.

    January 10, 2013
    • Jacquie, thanks for your comment. 🙂 I do think it would work as a replacement – Except that the fruit butters do have a bit of sweetness (sugar) added to them, and they have some of their own warming spices…cinnamon, cloves, etc. I’d add a touch more sugar…maybe 1/4 cup (a guess) and up the spices a bit until it feels and smells right to you. Will you let me know how it goes? I’d love to know!

      January 10, 2013
  4. Wow, that sounds delicious.My husband has to limit sugars because of a pre-diabetes condition. So I rarely prepare desserts. BUT this sounds wonderful and nutritious and delicious, and whatever other ishes you can think of. Thanks for the inspiration.

    January 10, 2013
    • 🙂 yes, all those ishes but fictitious! We go light on desserts around our house too, Ronnie, so love when we find one that satisfies that urge for sweet without breaking all the rules! And you’re so welcome…thanks for your nice comment.

      January 11, 2013
  5. What a great story! Your Mother and mine were cut from the same cloth, Spree. We weren’t expected to like everything that was put before us, all she asked was that we taste it. Simple enough, so one would think, but there were countless “fights” at the dinner table. I don’t recall any of us ever “losing our lunch” over a tasting, although I’m sure we threatened that would be the result. How disappointed you Mom must have been to work so hard on that dessert and to what end …
    This bread sounds wonderful, Spree. Love that you’ve included carrot and parsnip with the zucchini. And the loaves look beautiful cooling in the pans with their sunflower seed topping. With these around, who needs Christmas pudding? 🙂

    January 10, 2013
    • Indeed, who does?! I’ve asked myself that for years. 🙂
      (Funny too how we come around to our parents’ logic….I asked the same thing of my kids…just try it before you say you don’t like it. Makes so much sense to me now. Sorry, Mom! I was such a pain!)

      January 11, 2013
  6. Ali #

    Loved everything about how this post came together. Can’t wait to taste for myself how these veggies come together to make dessert!! Love when the good for your body meets the good for your taste buds! 🙂

    January 10, 2013
    • I so agree Ali…love when that happens!

      January 11, 2013
  7. Spree, you brought a smile to my face with your story. When I was about 7 years old we had a lovely puppy. She would always sit at my side and she was the champion for eating all the things I was forced to try, I am sure she would have lapped up that Christmas pudding in a heart beat. I love your veggie bread and I bet even my picky teenagers would love it toasted in the morning for breakfast. Take Care, BAM

    January 10, 2013
    • Dogs learn quickly to sit beneath a child’s chair don’t they Bam? And yes, picky teenagers would definitely like this. (especially if you fail to mention that it’s good for them.) thanks for your nice comment. 🙂

      January 11, 2013
  8. I enjoy toasted zucchini bread so I’m sure I’d like this, especially with the cruncy seeds although I might just use some dry roasted slivered almonds instead. [The only problematic ingredient for me is the hemp seeds. Following your lauding of them in a previous salad recipe, I bought and toasted some and it really seemed to me like eating nutshells–I must have gotten a bad batch.] As usual, your photographs are striking–I especially liked that your weren’t afraid to show a slight bit of mess around the edge of the bowl–made your depiction of the process somehow more homey and down to earth. And I’m as sure as I can be that I wouldn’t have liked that Christmas Pudding either, assuming it had the usual ingredients for such recipes.

    January 11, 2013
    • Joe you have me wondering! Were they hulled hemp seeds? Did you just dry roast them until lightly toasted? They shouldn’t taste or feel anything like nutshells! I use them untoasted in baked goods and in smoothies all the time, and lightly roasted sprinkled on all sorts of things. (have rolled goat cheese in it and put that in a salad.) Really sorry you had a bad experience. Could I coax you into trying again! And on the topic of this bread, it’s a very good one that I think you’d like.

      January 11, 2013
  9. Lovely shots, as always, Antoinette. I’m glad the “m” word was mostly avoided in describing your delicious sounding bread and I’m very envious of the tea towel:)

    January 11, 2013
    • What is it about the “m” word I wonder (though I have some ideas.) (Is it distasteful in French as well?) So … when something is “m” in that good sense, must we forever say un-dry? Seems such a negative way of describing a positive. 🙂

      January 11, 2013
  10. Mmmmmm! Lovely!

    January 11, 2013
  11. We too were allowed to “not like” things, as long as we had tasted them first. Christmas Pudding is quite an aquired taste and very heavy going for anyone! Love this récipe packed with so many good things, and I quite like the Word moist (used in moderation)!

    January 11, 2013
    • :)! Thank you, Tanya ! That feels almost like permission! (moist! There I said it again! I feel so…free!) I appreciate your comments on the “pudd” … It’s good to know that if one works hard at it, one may actually grow to like it. 🙂

      January 11, 2013
  12. That bread looks awful good 😀 – I can’t believe you don’t like Christmas pudding?! MY grandmother would be horrified! I love the stuff, all delicious and soaked in brandy – yummy.

    January 11, 2013
    • It’s awful good, you’re right about that Frugal! Here’s the thing about Christmas Puddin’ and me. My seven year old mouth tasted it several bites worth, my seven year old stomach threw it back up again and I’ve not looked back once. Were this sorry memory not indelibly marked upon my brain, I might give it another go…I might like it…though I can hardly believe I’m saying such a thing. We will likely never know, so consider my portion to be yours! 🙂 ‘Tis your lucky day!

      January 11, 2013
  13. Deb schneider #

    Sweet sweet story from your childhood :). My favorite posts are those including stories about you growing up. Delicious looking & sounding bread!

    January 11, 2013
    • Thank you friend! I’m happy knowing you like hearing about my sordid past! 😉 !!! xo

      January 11, 2013
  14. This I just have to try – but what is the difference in baking powder and soda ???? We don’t have anything like that in Sweden, what I know of. I know .. bicarbonate – that I can get.
    Will let you know how my baking went. Thanks a million for this.

    January 11, 2013
    • Hi Viveka! I’m excited to know how your baking goes! This I hope will help you:

      Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is Not the same thing as baking powder. But the good news is, even if you don’t find it in Sweden, you can Easily make your own with just baking soda and cream of tartar. Here’s how:
      **** For 1 part of baking soda, add 2 parts cream of tartar. Mix well, and use the exact amount specified for baking powder in the recipe in the recipe.

      Some recipes require the addition of baking powder (or cream of tartar) in order to increase the acidity. Since baking is all about the chemistry, it’s best not to monkey too much. 🙂 Have fun, enjoy, and let me know! x

      January 11, 2013
      • bicarbonate we have – will bake it next week when back home.
        Will look for the it today.

        Creme of tatar – we don’t have … I have asked around for that.

        Looking forward to this … Thanks for your help. I will come back with verdict, story and photos.

        January 12, 2013
  15. I certainly know about being made to eat food I didn’t like, only they were the usual, not sweets! I always had room for sweets/desserts, of any kind. Lovely post, lovely recipe; it sounds absolutely delicious, spree! 🙂

    January 12, 2013
  16. Always looking for unusual sweet breads – this recipe sounds fantastic! Great pictures too! Always a delight to visit your blog!

    January 12, 2013
  17. The loaves sound so good and look pretty with the pumpkin seeds! Your Christmas pudding story reminds me of a similar experience I had once. I’ll save that for another time!

    January 12, 2013
  18. WAIT! HOLD UP! You’ve got three of my favourites in one loaf? All that is best and bright from zucchini bread and carrot cake? Mother. Of. Pearl. This is good news indeed…

    January 13, 2013
  19. Your dessert loaf has so much going for it…I love the pumpkin seeds on top.

    January 13, 2013
  20. Wonderful Dessert as I am tucking into a plate of honey glazed carrots. Honestly! I am eating my veg. Have a great week, regards, James

    January 14, 2013
  21. The “m” word in German warrants a smirk. I don’t remember it doing so in French but that was a few years ago 🙂
    This looks like the perfect compromise for a healthy treat and isn’t even a compromise. Maybe I’ll try it with some honey although it’s really not much sugar as it is.
    x wendy

    January 15, 2013

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. so good and tasty … antoinette’s bread & hamilton | myguiltypleasures
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