This pumpkin cream “cheese” was inspired by a Thanksgiving pie I made several years ago. I came home and tweaked that recipe a bit, lost the crust, and voila, we’ve found a new family favorite.
We’ll eat it on buckwheat date-pecan quick bread, flax crackers, and all by itself, sliver-by-sliver, until only the tiniest morsel is left in the dish in the fridge. I know what I’m having for my afternoon snack!
Pumpkins and winter squashes are best eaten when fully ripe. Yet it’s the younger and smaller gourds that will have the sweetest flavor. That taste is earthy and rich and nutritionally fibrous.
The health benefits of pumpkin include these:
Pumpkins are a great source of carotene—one of our major antioxidants that helps to protect us against certain kinds of cancer (particularly lung cancer), as well as heart disease.
Diets rich in carotene—like that found in orange-fleshed pumpkins—also offer protection against the development of diabetes. Pumpkins in particular are helpful in the body’s management of blood sugar metabolism and beneficial for the health of the pancreas, where our blood sugar regulating insulin is produced.
Pumpkin provides some good vitamins and minerals, including these:
- Vitamin C
- Several B vitamins, including B1, B6, folic acid, and niacin
- Dietary fiber
- Pro-vitamin A carotenes
Pumpkins are helpful in the relief of bronchial asthma. They promote the health of the lungs and throat as well. In fact, in European folk medicine, pumpkin is acknowledged as a potent remedy in the treatment of respiratory and digestive ailments.
Pumpkin Cream ‘Cheese’ Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked one to three hours
- 1 1/2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin (directions below)
- 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (choose a BPA-free option)
- 1/2 cup gently melted coconut butter (Artisana brand or Nutiva Coconut Manna)
- 30 drops liquid stevia, vanilla flavored, or 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 2 tablespoons liquid vanilla
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Drain the soaked cashews, discarding the water. Place the nuts into a food processor and process them until a butter forms.
Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste to be sure that it meets your tastebuds.
Since all pumpkins will be of varying degrees of sweetness, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve satisfied your taste buds before pouring the mixture from the food processor.
When the mixture meets your taste requirements, pour or spoon the contents of the bowl into a rectangular glass container in which you can store the cream “cheese.”
Allow the “cheese” to set in the fridge for at least two hours before slicing. You can store it covered there for up to four days. (Ours didn’t last so long!)
Make Your Own Pumpkin Puree
It’s easier than you think. And the pumpkins and winter squashes are plentiful throughout fall and winter. Look for a small (and sweet!) sugar pumpkin. Acorn or kabocha squash work well too.
With a sharp knife, cut the pumpkin or squash in half. Continue to cut those halves into half along the ribs into wedges, until you have eight wedges.
Scrape out all the pulp from the pumpkin’s cavity.
Remove the outer skin with a vegetable peeler.
Boil or steam slices until the flesh turns bright orange and soft—about 20 minutes. (You can prick with a fork to test its done-ness.)
When soft, remove the slices or chunks with a set of tongs. Let cool to room temperature.
Scoop out the soft flesh (from the shell). Blend or puree in a food processor until smooth.
With a career born of a personal family health crisis, award-winning functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama takes the idea of food as personalized medicine beyond a clinical practice. Her online programs at ReplenishPDX.com and HolisticNutritionLab.com guide her clients in taking ownership over their health. Info@replenishpdx.com