Vegan Pumpkin Cream “Cheese”
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
Everywhere I look, every door step I approach, every market I enter, everything’s coming up pumpkin! Are you a lover of all things pumpkin too?
As the days grow shorter and the leaves turn brilliant shades of red and orange, it’s no wonder that pumpkins, often associated with Halloween, play a starring role in the season. And yet their significance goes far beyond carved jack-o’-lanterns. Indigenous peoples across North America recognized the value of these hardy gourds. They were harvested in the bountiful days of fall, with the knowledge that their tough skin and extended shelf life would provide sustenance through the harsh winter months.
The autumn harvest season is a time to take it slow, reflect, and find comfort in simple pleasures. During this period of the year, we often crave soul-warming foods and flavors. For some, that comfort comes from the thrill of Halloween candy on the front porch or stoop. For others it’s indulging in all things pumpkin, from lattes to muffins to soups.
For me, the abundance of pumpkins appearing around every corner is a gentle reminder to heed the message of the season, and to rest and digest.
I invite you to celebrate this opportunity to slow things down, and to join me for a slice of a nutrient-dense, pumpkin-forward creation that has been a part of my autumn repertoire for some time.
My Vegan Pumpkin Cream “Cheese” is a tribute to the pumpkin’s enduring legacy. This creamy delight brings together raw cashews, pureed cooked pumpkin, and a blend of flavors that create a warming, pumpkin-infused experience. It’s a snack that’s as wholesome as it is tasty.
Vegan Pumpkin Cream “Cheese”
This pumpkin cream “cheese” was inspired by a Thanksgiving pie I made several years ago. I came home from my holiday travels, tweaked that recipe, lost the crust, and voila, we’ve found a new family favorite. We’ll eat this pumpkin cream “cheese” on buckwheat date-pecan quick bread, flax crackers, or 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!
- 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 and process until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Since all pumpkins will be of varying degrees of sweetness, taste to ensure it’s to your liking.
- When the mixture is just right in terms of sweetness, 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 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
Homemade pumpkin puree is easier than you think! Look for a small (and sweet!) sugar pumpkin or a winter squash like acorn or kabocha.
- 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.
Pumpkins and winter squashes are best eaten when fully ripe. That taste is earthy and rich and nutritionally fibrous. Younger and smaller gourds will have the sweetest flavor.
The health benefits of pumpkin include:
- 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.
- 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.
- Provide vitamins and minerals including: vitamin C, several B vitamins including B1, B6, folic acid & niacin, potassium, dietary fiber, plus those pro-vitamin A carotenes!
- Helpful in the relief of bronchial asthma. In fact, in European folk medicine pumpkin is acknowledged as a potent remedy in the treatment of respiratory and digestive ailments.
Batool M, Ranjha MMAN, Roobab U, et al. Nutritional Value, Phytochemical Potential, and Therapeutic Benefits of Pumpkin (Cucurbita sp.). Plants (Basel). 2022;11(11):1394. Published 2022 May 24. doi:10.3390/plants11111394
Yadav M, Jain S, Tomar R, Prasad GB, Yadav H. Medicinal and biological potential of pumpkin: an updated review. Nutr Res Rev. 2010;23(2):184-190. doi:10.1017/S0954422410000107
Amin MZ, Islam T, Uddin MR, Uddin MJ, Rahman MM, Satter MA. Comparative study on nutrient contents in the different parts of indigenous and hybrid varieties of pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima Linn.). Heliyon. 2019;5(9):e02462. Published 2019 Sep 13. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2019.e02462
EXPERIENCE A FREE TRAINING SERIES WITH ANDREA NAKAYAMA TO HELP YOU
Begin practicing functionally today!
MORE TO EXPLORE
You Might Also Like
Paleo Banana Snickerdoodles
If you’ve been following the Paleo diet trend, you’ve probably come across recipes that incorporate bananas into various baked goods. Recently, I decided to conduct a little experiment and research to determine whether bananas, which are often viewed skeptically due to their perceived high sugar content, are worth the hype. First, let’s look at their […]Read More
The Functional Nutrition Guide to Fats and Oils
Welcome to our comprehensive guide to fats and oils! This guide aims to provide you with valuable insights into the different types of fats and oils available, their sources, and how to make informed decisions about incorporating them into your diet. Fats and oils are more than just macronutrients; they are essential for overall health […]Read More
Protein: The Functional Nutrition Benefits of Nature’s Building Blocks
Protein: A fundamental element in Functional Nutrition As a key part of the Functional Nutrition Alliance’s Fat, Fiber, Protein principle for health and healing, protein deserves our attention and investigation. Protein is one of the essential macronutrients required by the human body to function properly. It’s composed of smaller units called amino acids, which are […]Read More
Fiber: The Health & Healing Benefits of Complex Carbohydrates
Fiber fundamentals in Functional Nutrition Let’s talk about fiber! While fiber is not a macronutrient like Fat or Protein (the other two components of our core Fat/Fiber/Protein principle for health and healing), it is critical for full body systems health and balance. In fact, it’s a key factor supporting our Non-Negotiable Trifecta of Sleep, Poop, […]Read More