I want to start this post a little different this week, which is by saying THANK YOU!
Now I know I’m not normally one to push past my sarcastic undertones to something more emotional (which I think is why you guys are here and not reading Oprah’s blog), but with Thanksgiving just behind us (at least for us Canadians) I am still thinking about all I have to be grateful for, and one thing is all the incredible support I get from my friends, family and even strangers who let me know how much they enjoy my recipes and (from what I’ve heard) my entertaining and witty writing style (who, moi?). So I just wanted to take a sec and say thanks – thanks for reading and thanks for all your positive vibes. It truly gives me the warm and fuzzies and I am grateful for it.
I know, I know – talk is cheap. So I thought I’d also show my gratitude by sharing a delicious new recipe that is not only perfectly seasonal, but also a sweet and decadent treat your taste buds will be grateful for. And of course because you’re chillin’ with TNB, it’s also healthy and filled with nutritious goodness that your body will be grateful for. Yes friends – I give you my Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites.
When my Naturopath told me I am sensitive to dairy, I immediately thought…well I immediately thought about leaping across her desk, grabbing her by the collar and demanding she check the results again (do dairy sensitivities give you violent tendencies?). But AFTER that I thought about all the delicious milky treats I’d have to say good bye to. Bye bye, Greek yogurt. Bye bye, Quest bars. Bye bye….cheesecake??!!! NOOOOO!!! But alas, all you fellow dairy sensitive peeps can rejoice with me, cause there is a way to still enjoy a sweet, creamy cheesecake-like dessert without the unpleasant side effects (read: flatulence and systemic inflammation – yikes). Like most vegan versions of cheesecake, this recipe features cashews, which when processed in a food processor take on a smooth, creamy texture likened to cream cheese. Add in some maple syrup, some pumpkin, and a decadent date and walnut crust, and you’ve got yourself one damn fine seasonal dessert.
So what about the nutritional benefits? Now this may shock you – but pumpkins aren’t just good for carving (or as the star in trendy coffee drinks) – they are actually packed with nutrients. First, like all bright orange veggies, they are full of carotenoids, which turn to vitamin A in the body, which is essential for eye health and good eyesight, particularly night vision (so you can enjoy looking at all those delightful pumpkins on Hallowe’en night!). They are also full of neutralizing antioxidants, which help keep those pesky free radicals from causing serious damage, like the dreaded C-word (cancer, of course). AND the same antioxidants also help keep wrinkles at bay (yay!). And if looking young and being cancer-free wasn’t enough, they also help with weight-loss. Pumpkin is an often-overlooked source of fiber, but with three grams per one-cup serving and only 49 calories, it can keep you feeling full for longer on fewer calories.
Now of course I am not saying that by eating this “cheesecake” you’re going to stay thin and young forever, but if you came to that conclusion on your own while scarfing down an entire pan of these creamy bites of fall-flavoured heaven, I wouldn’t correct you. Cause I’m a pal like that. 😉
The Natural Blonde
Vegan Pumpkin Cheesecake Bites
For the crust:
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 cup raw pecans
- 1 Tbsp. coconut sugar
- 1½ Tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. coconut nectar (or can sub honey or maple syrup)
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 tsp. pumpkin spice
For the “cheesecake” layer:
- 1½ cups cashews, soaked in hot water for 2 hours and drained
- ½ cup pumpkin puree (NOT PIE FILLING)
- ½ tsp. pumpkin spice
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1-2 Tbsp. xylitol (depends on how sweet you like things. You could also try coconut sugar or stevia instead)
In a food processor combine the ingredients for the crust and pulse until combined and smooth. Press the mixture evenly onto the bottom of a small baking dish lined with parchment paper (I actually used a loaf pan) and place in the freezer while you prepare the cheesecake layer.
Next – clean food processor in preparation for cheesecake layer. Sorry – I know it’s a pain! But you have to.
When clean, combine cashews, pumpkin spice, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, maple syrup and xylitol into your food processor and process until smooth. This might take a couple minutes but you want it nice and creamy with no little chunks.
Once the cashew mixture is nice and smooth, remove the crust from the freezer and pour mixture on top, smoothing the top and sprinkling a little pumpkin spice or cinnamon on top if you so desire. Return to the freezer for at least two hours.
Store in freezer until a few minutes before you’re ready to serve. If any are left over, store those suckers back in the freezer until next time!
I adapted this recipe from this original from Eat Good 4 Life