Why is it that some foods are only eaten on certain days? We’ve got a pumpkin cheesecake recipe you can eat ANY time. It’s even a healthy cheesecake recipe.
In the last holiday newsletter we talked about cranberries, a food native to North America that is often only consumed a couple days out of the year. Hopefully, you found that newsletter to be an inspiration to include cranberries into more of your meals.
In that same vein, we are going to explore another classic holiday food native to North America. This versatile food is nutrient dense and can be incorporated into our lives to bring health and well being.
Pumpkins and Squash
While many people only buy pumpkins for carving out entertaining or scary faces around Halloween, pumpkins are a super nutritious food that deserves to be on our dinner tables more frequently.
Pumpkins are a member of the squash family (Cucurbitaceae). This family includes summer squashes like zucchini and yellow neck squash, gourds, and the many varieties of winter squashes such as butternut squash and acorn squash. Summer squash mature in the summer and need to be eaten quickly or they will spoil. Winter squash mature in the fall and, depending on the variety, can be stored whole for many months.
Squash has been cultivated in the western world for as many as 10,000 years! It was both an important food source and an important medicine to native inhabitants of North America. Squash quickly became an important food source to pilgrims and it was also adopted into their holiday traditions, replacing turnip and beet carvings to become the jack-o’-lantern we know of today.
The term “pumpkin” is given to winter squash with that quintessential round orange shape. There are many varieties of pumpkins and all of them are edible but the large jack o lantern type pumpkins used for carving are typically more stringy and less tasty. Smaller varieties of pumpkins, sometimes referred to as pie pumpkins or sugar pumpkins, are smaller, sweeter and have a better texture for eating.
The bright orange color found in squash is indicative of its high carotenoid and other antioxidant content. Eating pumpkin frequently supports healthy eyes and limits free radicals. A diet high in antioxidants is said to prevent cancer and heart disease. Pumpkin is also high in nutrients like zinc, iron and fiber.
Pumpkin seeds are well known for their ability to get rid of intestinal worms and parasites. They should be eaten raw for best effects.
Pumpkin pies are a frequent treat for many of us around the holidays. The first pumpkin pies were made by cutting into the top of a winter squash, hollowing it out by removing the seeds, filling it with milk and spices, and then cooking it in the coals. Over the centuries, pumpkin pies have gotten a lot more decadent!
Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe
We are going to show you how to make a pumpkin cheesecake. This recipe has very little sugar and no gluten, yet is rich and delicious. It’s a healthy cheesecake recipe.
Be sure to make this ahead of time since it takes a long time to chill.
What you’ll need…
- 3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin
- 3 eggs
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup honey or maple syrup (or to taste)
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered nuts (we often use almonds)
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
Begin your pumpkin cheesecake recipe by cooking your pumpkin. You can use any type of winter squash for the recipe. Besides pumpkin I also like acorn squash.
Of course you can use canned pumpkin for this recipe, but there are growing concerns about the chemicals found in canned food.
To cook your pumpkin, first cut it into several pieces and remove all the loose pulp and seeds. (Save the seeds for roasting!)
Put the pumpkin slices in a large baking dish and cook at 350°F for 45 minutes to an hour until a fork easily slides into the pumpkin.
While the pumpkin is cooking, you can prepare the optional crust.
Combine the powdered nuts with the melted butter and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. Mix well and then press the nut mixture into the bottom of a pie pan. Set aside.
After the pumpkin is thoroughly cooked, let it cool until you can easily handle it. Separate the pumpkin meat from the outer peel.
Measure out 2 cups of pumpkin and add the eggs, sour cream, 1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and vanilla.
Using a food processor, hand mixer or your own biceps, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly.
Pour the pumpkin mixture into the pie pan.
Bake at 350°F for 1 hour. It is done when the top is browned and a fork goes into the middle and comes out clean.
Let it cool on the counter for 30 minutes and then chill it in the fridge for 4 hours before eating.
We hope you enjoy this scrumptious pumpkin cheesecake recipe!
We don’t eat gluten and only small amounts of sugar at our house so you can see we tailored this recipe to suit our needs. If you don’t eat dairy you could try dairy substitutes to make this recipe.
Besides being a great pie, pumpkin is delicious in soups or even simply roasted with a little butter and salt.