Ah, nothing like a short work week, is there? Hope those of you who celebrated on Monday had a great Thanksgiving! (And hope everyone else had a good weekend, short as it was!).
I can’t wait to tell you all about the phenomenal Thanksgiving Vegan Cassoulet I made for The HH and me, or the pillowy, indulgent Black Bottom Almond Mousse Pie for dessert, but those will have to wait–I
frittered away slept in thoroughly enjoyed the stupendous weather and extra time with family and friends this past long weekend, which means those blog posts are still to be written. I do, however, have this “taste-it-and-you’ll-be-instantly-addicted,” “so-easy-it’s-almost-criminal,” Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread for you today.
Let me preface this recipe by saying that I have the utmost respect for Weight Watchers. I am not joking on this one (I know, a hundred punch lines just flew through your mind, didn’t they?), as I am (a) most likely one of Weight Watchers’ most loyal former customers ever; (just insert “go on a diet” for “quit smoking” in the old joke: “It’s easy to quit smoking. I’ve done it a dozen times”–and you have my history with Weight Watchers); and (b) I believe they really do help people to lose and manage their weight, primarily by teaching portion control more than anything else.*
Well, one of my friends recently embarked on her eleventh or twelfth round with the “Points” system, so I must have had WW on the brain when I serendipitously came across a recipe for Weight Watchers Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese via a link somewhere else (forget where, now).
The original recipe was lauded for having only “two points.” I quickly determined that I could easily make a much healthier (read: no highly processed/fake ingredients, such as whey protein concentrate, guar gum, carob bean gum, sorbic acid as a preservative, etc; and, of course, no dairy) version based on my own lower-fat “cream cheese” and using the original recipe as a flavor guideline.
Apart from soaking the cashews, this recipe was ridiculously quick and easy to make (and soaking the cashews isn’t what I’d call difficult, of course; but you do need 4-6 hours of advance warning). The result was one smooth, silky-spreadable creamy “cheese” boasting a light kiss of cinnamon and other autum spices like nutmeg, ginger and allspice. It paired beautifully with my grain-free scones for breakfast this morning (that recipe coming up soon).
Although I generally don’t worry about nutritional breakdowns (if I’m eating whole foods, healthy ingredients, I know it will all balance out), but in this case, I was curious. Below is how mine stacked up against theirs (note that there was no choice of “coconut sugar” on the Nutrition Data page, where I calculated these figures. As a result, I used “brown sugar” for both recipes, which means that my version is actually even more nutrient-dense than it appears here).
Which would you rather eat?
WW: 10; Mine: 12 (2 Tbsp/30 ml each)
Calories per serving:
WW: 61; Mine: 62. 5
Total Fat per serving:
WW: 3.5 g; Mine: 3.2 g
Saturated Fat per serving:
WW: 2.1 g; Mine: 0.6 g
Cholesterol per serving:
WW: 12.1 mg; Mine: 0 mg
Sodium per serving:
WW: 106.7 mg; Mine: 2.1 mg
Fiber per serving:
WW: 0.6 g: Mine: 1.3 g
Sugars per serving:
WW: 4.4 g; Mine: 3.1 g
Protein per serving:
WW: 1.9 g; Mine: 2.1 g
Vitamin A per serving:
WW: 40.6% (of daily requirement); Mine: 3.2%
WW: 4.4% (of daily requirement); Mine: 1.4%
WW: 1.5% (of daily requirement); Mine: 4.6%
My take on it: of course, I expected the calcium percentage to be larger in the actual dairy cheese (even though that form of calcium is not necessarily well absorbed); but the huge percentage of vitamin A threw me a bit. Then I reread the cheese ingredients and saw that the “light” cream cheese contained added “Vitamin A palmitate.” Eureka! On the other hand, this whole-foods version wins out in virtually every other category, from iron (wowza!) to fiber (wowza again!) to protein.
Hey, you know what? With this luscious spread on hand, heading back to work after a three-day long weekend turned out to be not so bad, after all.
* Please note that the opinions expressed here are entirely my own, highly personal, views, and I am in no way suggesting that you do or do not join Weight Watchers or am I trying to persuade anyone in one direction or another about the company. I will say, however, that no one in her/his right mind should ever repeat my own, previous, behavior and consume 4 packages of Weight Watchers Chocolate Mousse mix in for dinner within an hour.
And don’t forget. . . You can still vote for my blog in the Shape Magazine “Best Blog” Awards! If you’d like to see a gluten-free, vegan and healthy, whole-foods blog in first place–DDD is the only choice with all those qualities! Thanks so much to everyone for your support!
Spiced Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spread
suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond
This “cream cheese” is perfect spread on biscuits, scones, toast or rice cakes. It would also be heavenly atop a stack of spiced pumpkin or apple pancakes.
1 cup (155 gram) raw cashews, soaked in room temperature water for 4-6 hours and drained
1/2 cup (120 ml) packed pumpkin purée (pumpkin only)
1/2 cup (120 ml) well cooked or canned white kidney or navy beans, rinsed well and drained
6 Tbsp (90 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) ginger
1/4 tsp (1 ml) nutmeg (or less, to taste)
1/4 tsp (1 m) allspice
1 tsp (5 ml) Chinese 5 -Spice powder (or use another 1 tsp/5 ml cinnamon)
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut sugar
20-30 drops plain or vanilla stevia extract, to your taste
Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender (such as a VitaMix) and blend until silky smooth, scraping down sides or using the wand to push ingredients toward the blades as necessary. (To make this in a regular blender, first process all ingredients in a food processor until smooth, then transfer in small batches to a blender and blend until silky. Place each batch in a medium bowl as it’s blended, then stir them all together to ensure a uniform texture).
Use immediately (it will be soft, but spreadable) or refrigerate for several hours to firm up slightly. Makes about 2-1/2 cups (600 ml).
Last Year at this Time: Grown-Up Halvah (gluten-free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
Two Years Ago: Tempeh-Bacon Topped, Roasted Plum and Baby Spinach Salad (gluten-free; ACD Stage 2 and beyond)
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs