I’ve been in a bit of a rut lately. It’s not an unhappy rut… just one lacking in blog-worthy creativity. I am finishing week 4 of P90X this weekend, and it has been a BLAST this time around, because I have anywhere from 3 to 7 college students joining me every day to work out with me. Granted, they are all more than a dozen years younger than I am, and can frequently kick my bootie, but it makes the whole experience SO much more fun!
That said, my nutritional choices lately have been delicious, but nothing earth-shattering. I have a post-workout shake before I run out the door to work in the mornings, I pack an apple or some baby carrots for a mid day snack, lunch usually consists of leftovers from the night before, or leftover meat that I pile on a bed of lettuce and veggies, and dinner is usually a well-cooked/seasoned protein with a couple of veggie sides. I love the simplicity of a piece of chicken, beef, or fish that is seasoned and grilled to perfection. Or some super fresh, local veggies sautéed in butter with a little salt and pepper? These things make me happy. But they don’t make interesting blog posts.
Today, however, I think I’ve come up with something unique that you’ll really like. I’ll warn you, plan ahead for this one – as in, you need to start the day before. This is definitely in the category of “treats” but I figure, if you’re going to indulge, why not include a vegetable element to help justify the indulgence?
The good news? This is gluten free, grain free, dairy free, paleo, and vegan! It makes EVERYBODY happy! … unless you’re allergic to cashews and almonds. In that case… my condolences.
I call the filling “cheesecake” because it has a similar flavor, but it doesn’t actually contain any cheese. And I call them mini pumpkins because of their shape, but in reality I used a couple of different varieties of winter squash that I found at the local farmer’s market. The green striped one is called “sweet dumpling squash”. SO delicious!
Mini Pumpkins with Maple “Cheesecake” Filling
- 4 small winter squash (acorn, small pumpkin, sweet dumpling, or any other colorful variety would work)
- 3 cups raw, unsalted cashews
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup (or more) almond milk
- 1/2 cup coconut oil
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- Fresh grated nutmeg
Start this recipe the night before you intend to eat it. Halve the squash, remove the seeds, place cut side down in a baking dish, add about 1/2 inch of water, and bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes, or until soft.
Meanwhile, place cashews in a large bowl, cover generously with water, and allow to soak overnight. (Do NOT skip this step!) When squash is finished baking, place in refrigerator and allow it to cool completely.
In the morning, drain the cashews, and process in a blender or food processor with almond milk, vanilla, coconut oil, and maple syrup until a creamy consistency. Add more almond milk if necessary, but don’t overdo it. The mixture should be very thick. Pour into cooled squash halves, sprinkle with nutmeg, and place back in refrigerator for a few hours so your cream will “firm up”.
This was a BIG hit for my boys, and I thought it was delicious too! And I can neither confirm nor deny that I stood over my blender with my fingers, trying to harvest every last drop of that delicious maple filling. YUM!