With only 5 ingredients, this sweet and creamy pumpkin dip couldn’t be easier to prepare. Served with some apple slices or crackers, it is the perfect healthy snack.
Unless you live in a vacuum, you have been inundated with pumpkin everything over the past few weeks. I, for one, have revelled in pumpkin bliss. I have drooled over dozens of photos of pumpkin pleasures and crunched several too many bowls of Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s.
Not wanting to miss the opportunity, I decided I had to jump on the pumpkin bandwagon. I arrived at this Sweet Pumpkin Dip as a way to enjoy the warmth and spice of the pumpkin season without the guilt that follows overindulgence in sweets.
Before I give you details about this healthy snack, I want to tell you about the opportunity that spurred this particular recipe: my time volunteering with Cooking Matters Colorado. An organization that has allowed me to combine my passions for food, nutrition, education, and giving, Cooking Matters “empowers low-income families with the skills to stretch their food budgets so their children get healthy meals at home.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer as a class assistant for one of Cooking Matters’ 6-week cooking courses. Every class, the participants work together to prepare a healthy meal and then eat while engaging in a nutrition lesson. Through this process, participants learn how to make smart choices at the grocery store, to select healthy food options for their families, and to prepare nutritious, affordable meals. The organization embodies the principles and practices that are central to my food philosophy, and I encourage you to learn more about what they do and to consider “sharing your strengths” with the program, if you can.
Each participant receives a cookbook overflowing with nutrition lessons, cooking tips, and healthy recipes. It was within those pages that I stumbled on a recipe that I adapted to create my version of Sweet Pumpkin Dip.
One of my favorite aspects of this recipe is how easy it is to prepare. It requires only 5 ingredients and one bowl. I lightened up the original recipe by cutting back on the cream cheese and adding some nonfat plain Greek yogurt to add a little tang without sacrificing the creamy texture. Instead of powdered sugar as the sweetener, I used natural maple syrup.
And then there’s the pumpkin pie spice. Close your eyes and take in the bouquet of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and other goodness and feel yourself diving into a pile of crunchy yellow and orange leaves or cozying up in front of a fireplace cupping a mug of warm apple cider in your hands. It is warm and sweet and spicy and everything a Sweet Pumpkin Dip should be.
I like to make my own pumpkin puree, which is not only easy but also yields the fortunate byproduct of pumpkin seeds. Start with a pie pumpkin (this is important, don’t use the large variety that you carve) and slice it in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and put them in a bowl with water to rinse them. Place the pumpkin halves cut side down on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake in a 350°F oven for about 90 minutes. After it cools a bit, you should be able to easily peel the skin apart from the flesh. Puree the pumpkin flesh in a food processor (or, use my favorite kitchen gadget– the immersion blender). One pie pumpkin will yield more than enough pumpkin puree for this recipe.
I usually put the pumpkin seeds into the oven while the pumpkin is cooking, too. Just toss them in a tiny bit of olive oil, add a sprinkle of sea salt, and let them roast next to your pumpkin for half an hour or until they begin to brown slightly (stir them up about half way through). Now you’ve got three recipes for the price of one!
If you don’t want to prepare your own pumpkin puree, storebought puree works just fine. Make sure you get pure pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, though.
Serve the Sweet Pumpkin Dip with some apple slices or crackers for dipping. Trader Joe’s currently has Pita Crisps with Cranberries and Pumpkin Seeds that are dynamite with this dip, but graham crackers or something similar would be fantastic, too.
This song grabbed me for various reasons. First, the obvious: this song cover is performed by the Smashing Pumpkins and, well, you read the recipe. Also, as fall descends upon us, so too does the first snow fall in the mountains (and those “snow covered hills” in the song are the very Rocky Mountains that are in my front yard). Finally, the mellow tone of this cover makes me want to cozy up around a fire with some warm apple cider and sweet pumpkin dip.