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Low sodium pumpkin bread or muffins

I modified Smitten Kitchen's fabulous pumpkin bread recipe to reduce the sodium from 3,877 mg of sodium to just 157 mg of sodium for the entire loaf. I omitted the salt, of course, replaced the baking soda and baking powder with potassium bicarbonate and Hain's Featherweight baking powder, and finally substituted one egg for a sodium-free flax egg. The result was a delicious moist and tender loaf with a crispy lid. See my Notes below for the recipe testing I did to compare Hain's with Ener-g baking powder/soda, and also the difference in going from 3 eggs to 1.

Servings: One 9x5 inch loaf or 24 muffins

Sodium: 157 mg sodium per loaf, for muffins, about 7 mg per muffin

Time: 45 minutes active, 65-70 minutes baking


1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

2 1/2 tablespoons water

1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

330 grams (1 and 2/3 cups) sugar

1 1/2 tsp Hain's featherweight baking powder*

3/4 tsp potassium bicarbonate or other sodium free baking soda*

3/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground ginger

295 grams (2 1/4 cups) flour*

*See Notes, below

Cinnamon sugar topping:

2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1) Preheat oven to 350°F.

2) Mix the flax egg - in a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed with 2 1/2 tablespoons water and let sit for 5 minutes.

3) Prepare a 9x5 inch loaf pan by spraying it with vegetable or canola oil and lining with parchment paper. Let the parchment paper hang over the sides so it's easier to pull the finished loaf out of the pan later. I don't use clips to hold the parchment paper in place, just do a hard fold and it should stay put.

For muffins, grease or line 2 standard 12-muffin trays. This recipe will make about 2 dozen muffins.

4) In a large bowl, whisk the pumpkin, vegetable oil, eggs, flax egg, and sugar until smooth.

5) In a small bowl, mix together the baking powder, potassium bicarbonate (or baking soda substitute), cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

6) Add the dry mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir with a spatula or spoon until just mixed. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread and smooth the top. Sprinkle the top with a mixture of 2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Bake for 65-75 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking time. When the pumpkin bread is done, the top will be crispy and a skewer poked into the loaf should come out clean. When in doubt, leave it in the oven five minutes more. Cool on a wire rack.

For muffins, scoop the batter evenly into a muffin tray, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (optional) and bake for about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool. Makes about two dozen muffins.


-If you are using Ener-g baking soda and powder, double the amounts. So use 3 tsp baking powder, and 1 1/2 tsp baking soda.

-You can find Hain's at some Whole Food's, or on Amazon. Amazon also has potassium bicarbonate, look for one that is food grade.

-Use a scale to measure the ingredients whenever possible, especially flour. The Smitten Kitchen recipe calls for 295 grams (2 1/4 cups) flour which is what I've listed here. However, I follow the King Arthur conversion chart (120g = 1 cup of flour), in which case 295 grams is closer to 2 1/2 cups flour. Smitten Kitchen uses a conversion of 130 g per 1 cup of flour, so her recipe lists 2 1/4 cups flour. So, the lesson here is use a scale to measure flour if you can. If you don't have a scale, start with 2 1/4 cups and go up to 2 1/2 cups if you think the batter needs it. Also, King Arthur Baking has this great video on how to measure flour accurately.

My pumpkin bread experiment

I tested four different versions of this recipe. First, I compared Ener-G baking powder/soda to Hain's. Ener-G uses calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, so it's a good substitute for people reducing their sodium intake for kidney-related reasons. Hain's is potassium bicarbonate, so it's NOT a good substitute for those with kidney-related sodium restrictions, but it may be helpful for people taking diuretics that can lead to a low level of potassium. Talk to your doctor about this. Both options will work for our diet, so I wanted to try them both out. The result: Hain's is a much better leavening agent. The loaf made with Hain's is on the left in this picture, the Enger-G loaf on the right. Big difference in how they fill out the loaf pan.

Next, I made two more loafs to see if I could get the sodium even lower by substituting 1 or 2 eggs for sodium-free flax eggs. The picture on the left is 2 eggs plus 1 flax egg, on the right it's 1 egg and 2 flax-eggs. Again, a significant difference.

Here's how the four loafs compare. In the picture below, loaf A is made with 3 eggs and Ener-G baking soda and powder (227 mg sodium per loaf). Loaf B is made with 3 eggs and Hain's baking powder and potassium bicarbonate (also 227 mg sodium per loaf). Loaf B is a full 1/2 inch taller with no significant difference in taste, so it wins here. Loaf C and D both use Hain's, but C has 2 eggs, and D has just 1. With 2 eggs and 1 flax egg (loaf C), I got about the same texture and flavor as I did using 3 eggs (loaf B) but less sodium because there was 1 less egg. Loaf D was too dense. So the winner is loaf C: Hain's baking powder, potassium bicarbonate for baking soda, 2 eggs, and 1 flax egg for a total of 227 mg of sodium per loaf.

That said, they all tasted good and we're going to eat them all. In fact, my husband likes D because he likes that it's more dense and as an added bonus, it's super low sodium. But this is my blog, not his, so C is the winner and that's the recipe you see above.

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