I was inspired to make a healthy Indian Diwali Mithai, this Diwali. Mithai is a Hindi word (for those who don’t know :)) that translates into confection or sweet in English. It’s almost impossible to make mithai without using sugar. Generally mithai is VERY sweet and loaded with white sugar. Instead of white sugar I used organic dates, which to me is a healthy substitute for white sugar.
Dates are loaded with fiber, potassium, magnesium, copper, iron, manganese, Vitamin B6, a small amount of plant protein and a good amount of antioxidant. Despite having fructose, which is a natural type of sugar found in fruit, dates are a great alternative when looking to substitute sugar.
With just a handful of ingredients you can make this delicious dessert. All you need our oats, dates, pumpkin puree, a few spices and any nuts (you can omit the nuts and it will taste just as good). Because I was making this to celebrate an Indian festival, I melted some dark chocolate and poured over the dough and then sprinkled crushed pistachios before baking.
If you are making these squares for breakfast or to pack in your children’s lunch box, then omit the chocolate and nuts and top with some fresh raspberries or blueberries before baking. All you do is press down the whole berries into the dough, before baking and follow baking instructions – DELICIOUS!!!
Having said that you can’t go wrong with chocolate. I poured a very thin layer of dark chocolate and it really made such a delicious difference.
Pumpkin Squares (Mithai)
- 1 Vitamix Food Processor
- 3 cups oats (I use sprouted oats, rolled and quick oats will also work well)
- 1 cup pitted dates ( I used fresh soft medjool dates, any dates will work – if they are hard and dry, soak in a little water for about 10/15 minutes to soften. Strain out water and use just the dates)
- 1 cup pumpkin puree (I used home-made pumpkin puree, if you are using canned, make sure there are no spices added in it)
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
- 1/4 tsp clove powder
- 1/8 tsp cardamom powder (cardamom has a strong taste, so omit or use less)
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
Optional Ingredients to Add to Dough
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts (if you are not adding any toppings, add some raw walnuts right at the end of blending, after you add in the pumpkin puree
- 2 tbsp maple syrup (these squares are not overly sweet, if you want it a bit on the sweeter side, I suggest adding in 2 tbsp maple syrup, when you add the pumpkin puree)
- 1 block dark chocolate (I used a block of 90% dark cooking chocolate, you can use any chocolate you like, melt your chocolate over hot water in a double boiler )
- 1 cup crushed pistachios (I crushed 1/2 cup of whole pistachios in a motor and pestle)
- To a food processor add oats, dates and all your spices, blend on high for 30 to 40 seconds, till the dates and oats are broken down and well combined.
- Add in the pumpkin puree and blend again till all ingredients comes together like a dough.
- Place dough into a baking tray and press down firmly. At this point you can bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. If you are adding a toping like I did then do so before baking.
- Pour a thin layer of melted dark chocolate on top of the dough and sprinkle crushed pistachios. Bake in oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool and slice into squares.