You might laugh at what constitutes an indulgence for me over the holidays. One of them being my pumpkin “cheesecake” recipe. Yet even with my comparatively tame excesses, I’m not immune to feeling somewhat tuckered out post-Thanksgiving. It’s the same thing that client-after-client has expressed to me over the years, after throwing some (or even all) caution to the wind. (Hello gluten, dairy, sugar and all the other things that may not otherwise be a part of your desired daily routine.)

As a gift to you, the whole Functional Nutrition Alliance team has gathered our 8 Tips to Triumph Holiday Pitfalls!

We think the best ode to you is the one that honors and protects you, right now.

Since Thanksgiving is just around the bend, I’d like to invite you to spend this next week preparing to treat yourself well through the holiday season. This is the week that the flurry starts with anticipation and preparation and it doesn’t really let up until after the new year. Consider this week your “dress rehearsal”.

How might you create a foundation for more resilience to carry you through?
What are your “best habits” that you can commit to keep active during the frenzy?

Pick three practices that you do for yourself that you know make you feel great.
Got ’em?
Write them down and stick that piece of paper in a place you look everyday — the computer, the refrigerator, the bathroom mirror. . .
Now consider maintaining at least two of those practices in your daily routine every single day until the new year.

Here’s a tip right off the bat:

Don’t make the practices you pick grandiose!

I’m not talking about running a 5K. Favor patterns like the following:

  • drinking more water through the day
  • yoga stretches in the morning
  • oil pulling
  • starting the day with the breakfast that makes you feel top-notch
  • taking an Epsom salt bath at night to unwind
  • or even avoiding the foods that make you feel inflamed if it’s in your lexicon of tricks

Give thanks to yourself this week. And have some pumpkin “cheesecake” to celebrate. Paying tribute to yourself feels a lot better when you’re tending to your best practices.

With warmth and gratitude,

P.S. One thing I love about this recipe– it’s the perfect snack that’s in keeping with the scrumptious food that we’re all eating this week as we solidify our “best practices” prior to the holiday.
In fact, taking care of yourself through the holiday is the best way to honor the you that you remember feeling GREAT while eating a traditional pumpkin cheesecake!

Pumpkin Cream “Cheese”

Pumpkins are not just about Halloween. In fact the pumpkin is an indigenous Native American plant that sustained many folk through the cold months of winter due to its hardy skin and its ability to be stored for long periods of time.

This pumpkin cream “cheese” was inspired by one of the three pies I made with my niece, Maya, over Thanksgiving several years ago. I came home and tweaked that recipe a bit, lost the crust, and wa-la, we’ve found a new family favorite.

We’ve eaten it on buckwheat date-pecan quick bread, flax crackers, plantain bread, gluten and grain free slices, and all by itself, sliver-by-sliver, until only the tiniest morsel was left in the dish in the fridge. I know what I’m having for a snack!


1-1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked one to three hours

1-1/2 cups pureed, cooked pumpkin

1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk (Native Forest, Nature’s Value or Arroy-D)

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


  1. Drain the soaked cashews, discarding the water. Place the nuts into a food processor and process them until a smooth butter forms.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the processor and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Taste to be sure that it meets your flavor needs. Since all pumpkins will be of varying degrees of sweetness, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve satisfied your tastebuds before pouring the mixture from the food processor.
  3. 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”.
  4. Allow the “cheese” to set in the fridge for at least two hours before trying to slice. 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 this time of year. Look for a small (and sweet!) sugar pumpkin. Acorn or kabocha squash would work well too. The color of kabocha is, in itself, inspiring!

  1. 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.
  2. Scrape out all the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin’s cavity. No need to peel at this point.
  3. Boil or steam your pumpkin pieces until the flesh turns bright orange and soft. About 20 minutes. (Prick with a fork to test its done-ness.)
  4. When soft, remove the slices or chunks with a set of tongs. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Peel away the skin with your fingers or a knife.
  6. Blend or puree the pumpkin flesh in the food processor until smooth.

Voila! Pumpkin puree!

Don’t forget to download your copy of 8 Tips to Triumph Holiday Pitfalls

Wishing you warmth, gratitude and holiday wishes!

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Functional Nutrition Alliance provides the comprehensive online Functional Nutrition training in the Science & Art of the Functional Nutrition practice. Learn to address the roots of your clients’ suffering with client education, diet & lifestyle modifications.