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).
I’m submitting this recipe to Cybele’s Allergy-Friendly Friday event and Amy’s Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays.
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)
Three Years Ago: Gluten Free Coconut Mini-Loaves or Muffins (ACD Stage 3 and beyond)
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Shirley @ gfe says
Fabulous. That is all.
Ha, ha! Thanks, Shirley. 😀
Heather J says
If I hadn’t made Spicy Pumpkin Hummus last night, I would be whipping up this recipe tonight! I’ll print this one for my “to make” binder. Looks very good 🙂
Thanks, Heather! It’s a great spread–totally different from the hummus, obviously (this one is sweet), but equally versatile! 🙂
Heather J says
I finally made this… great stuff! 🙂
Yay! So glad you liked it! (And thanks for the reminder to make more). 🙂
Lauren (PB&G) says
First of all, congrats on the nomination! I will head over and vote right now!
I am a huge supporter of weight watchers for the same reason. They certainly helped me learn portion control, a healthier way to eat and skim off some major weight. I don’t support what I feel is the “fake food” aspect of it, but the general concept is pretty awesome.
This cream cheese spread looks amazing, too.
Thanks so much, Lauren! And thanks for the vote support. 🙂
I love this recipe! I need to make it!
Yes, you do need to make it. 😉
Oh yay! I’m so glad this is soy free. Looks fabulous. 🙂
Thanks so much! I’m actually not averse to soy, but sometimes you just want a break. . . 🙂
Hallie @ Daily Bites says
Okay, so I know you don’t eat eggs, but…
Do you think if I whisked eggs and maybe some coconut milk into this it could turn into a dairy-free pumpkin cheesecake in the oven?? I think I know what my baking project is for the weekend! 🙂
I’m not actually sure, Hallie, as I think the cashew mixture will change texture when baked (I seem to recall trying it myself a while back, and the result was somewhat grainy). But let me know how it turns out if you do give it a try! 🙂
Heather J says
I remember from your grain-free danishes a while back… baked cashew “cheese” really dries out. It’s much better unbaked. I think this cheesecake idea will be very dense and dry.
Heather, my “cheese” in the danishes was fine. . . maybe because of the berries on top holding in moisture? I didn’t have a problem with that recipe, actually! But I do think baking it on its own would be a bit drying. Unless there’s a way to seal in the moisture. . .(chia?).
i’ll take this version, please 🙂
Hee, hee! Me, too, thanks. 😉
Kim @ Affairs of Living says
looks divine! you just combined so many of my favorite foods into one amazing mouthful. yowzas! xo
I like that: yowzas! I think that sums up pretty well what it tasted like! 🙂
Bianca- Vegan Crunk says
Yummy! I haven’t been using nearly enough pumpkin yet. What’s wrong with me?!!! I should start with this!
It’s a really easy way to start, Bianca. Oh, and delicious, too. 🙂
I am imagining this spread between a stack of (gf) pumpkin pancakes.
I actually think that’s how I’m going to do it next! 🙂
Heather @Gluten-Free Cat says
Mmmmm, I’m making this one to spread on my pancakes!
Something tells me it would actually be best on pancakes! 😉
Johanna GGG says
onya ricki! I agree that weight watchers is a useful way to control a diet but I do a double take when I see some of their processed products – and I dislike that all their recipes (well any that I ever look at) seem to use low fat products which is not always the sort we have around the house. You are going great guns in fighting the processed foods at the moment – maintain the rage!
Thanks, Johanna! I used to be a processed food junkie, truly, but these days even brown rice flour can sometimes cause a reaction! So I’m allfor UNprocessed. 🙂
Holy marvellous! Pumpkin cream cheese? Mmm… Thank you for sharing this! Also, I voted for you! 🙂
Thank you so much, Kris!! Support is much appreciated! 😀
Alisa Fleming says
Yum! I’d take your version any day Ricki. But I admit that I’ve never counted calories. While doing P90X I tracked fat, sugars, and protein, and I’m trying to keep track of added sugars now, but otherwise, I just eat 🙂
This really sounds amazing and might be light enough on the beans that I even like the texture! Some of the dips bloggers are making are way too bean-heavy for my tastes. But with cashews? Delish!
Alisa, I don’t count calories, either, as a rule, but I just had to know with this one! Honestly, you do not detect the beans AT ALL. I added them simply for a bit of extra protein and fiber. Try a 1/4 recipe and see what you think! 🙂
This looks like an amazing spread. One ill be making for sure in the foreseeable future.
Thanks so much! It was really delicious (and now it’s all gone. . . boo hoo). 😉
Veggie V! @Veggie V's Vegan Adventure says
I’m a little late to this party, but better late than never. This looks and sounds amazing! I, too, am a WW fan, having lost the first 40 of my recent 60+ pounds via the Points system, but one of the things I (and many others if opinions expressed on the WW messages boards are representative of the masses) didn’t care care for was the OK attitude towards frankenfoods (a term regularly used on the boards for fake, processed foods). So, I was delighted to see your nutritional comparision – and to see real food win! Woohoo! I’m always leary of nut based recipes because of the calories and fat, but these numbers are convincing. And, I have just so happen to have raw cashews (yes!) chillin’ in the fridge; I think they’ll be fulfilling their thicky, creamy, spreadable goodness by this evening 🙂
Not late at all! I only posted it yesterday. 😉 And yes, I agree with you about the issues with WW–I never liked the fact that they “approve” foods with fake ingredients, “lite” dairy products, etc, in the name of saving calories. I’d rather eat less of the real (full-fat) thing. With only about 2 calories difference per tablespoon and all the other amazing leads in nutrition, I did think my spread won out. Let me know what you think if you do give it a try!
I can’t stand WW, because they won’t have T1 diabetics (or at least every chapter I’ve been to). If I try to do WW, I have to lie about my T1 state. I don’t like anything where I can’t be true to myself.
That being said, the recipe sounds delicious. My only wonder is – why the coconut sugar? Wouldn’t the pumpkin be sweet enough by itself?
Concetta, I’m not sure where you are, but I’ve found that “pumpkin” means different things to different people… here in Toronto, it’s not sweet at all on its own (not even as sweet as acorn or butternut squash). It really does need sweetener to taste yummy. That said, I’ve made this with stevia-only and it’s just fine, so feel free! If you’re in the antipodes, from what I understand “pumpkin” is what we call “squash” over here. . . which may mean that yours is sweet enough on its own. Hope that helps! 🙂 (and shame on WW!).
Lindsay @GetHealthywithL says
This just made my “too make list” it sounds amazing!
It is! And really so easy. 🙂
Awesome. And you and I were thinking alike this week!
Gena, I saw your pumpkin pie pudding and thought the same thing. . . they are so similar! I’m going to try your tofu-based version next. 🙂
Hey, this sounds great! I could spread this on some pumpkin bread and enjoy that with a pumpkin latte. Ahh, the flavors of autumn.
Or do you mean, the FLAVOR (singular) of autumn? 😉
Ricki, love, I think we need to collaborate. You see, I’ve wanted to vegan-ize this beloved recipe (http://www.carascravings.com/2007/08/browniebabes-round-3-take-2.html) and I believe you just made a very big contribution.If I combine this my vegan/gf/sf brownies, I think we’ll be in business!
They do look amazing! If you give it a try, let me know! I’m not 100% sure about the baking, but it’s worth trying!
This looks so tasty!
Thanks, Alta! It’s really so reminiscent of cream cheese, too. 🙂
I’m currently on WW, so this is super appealing to me! It sounds delicious. In case your curious, the points plus value of a serving is still 2, so in addition to a better nutritional profile, it’s still low in points!
Yay! That is so great to know. 😀 And good luck with it!
Veggie V! @Veggie V's Vegan Adventure says
I’ve been eating this all week as a dip/spread with apples. Yum!
Mmmmm! Gotta try it that way! 😀
Love this and I must try this recipe. Love how you give the data comparisons.
Tressa @ Hecka-Good Recipes says
I just found this recipe for a Flourless Pumpkin Roll, http://www.easytobeglutenfree.com/baked-goods/286-flourless-pumpkin-roll and your cream cheese spread would be perfect as a filling!!! 🙂 I am so excited to try this!
Mmmmm – this looks delicious! I haven’t actually jumped on the fall pumpkin sweet stuff bandwagon yet. What the heck am I waiting for?
Yeah–what are you waiting for?? 😉
I would much rather have your version than the WW one!! Looks delicious Ricki. 🙂
Thanks, Ashley! Obviously, I’d rather have my version, too. 😉
Oooh ricki! What a lovely & original spread!
I have made it & loved it so much! thanks! 😉
Gretchen @gfedge says
Yumm. Rita and I will both LOVE this!
BTW, I tried to vote for you and both links came up ‘access denied’ or ‘you are not authorized’ ?
Gretchen, I appreciate the effort! But this recipe is actually from last year–that’s when the nomination happened. (And I didn’t win. Boo hoo). 😉
Your recipe sounds delicious, thank you. When we’ve had uur fill of pumpkin, would your recipe work without the pumpkin as plain cream cheese?