Prep time: Approx. 10 minutes / Yield: Approx. 3.5 cups
The days are turning cooler here, the leaves are changing color, fresh apples are in season, and it seems everyone is advertising things pumpkin-spice-flavored. If I had unlimited time, money, and capacity to metabolize calories, I could happily spend my days at Starbucks sipping one Pumpkin Spice Latte after another. Since none of those conditions is true in my daily reality, the girls and I enjoy Pumpkin Dip instead.
My mom first came across this recipe at a friend’s house years ago, during a fall dinner party. It was served as a pre-meal seasonal hors d’oeuvre, in a bowl made from a small hollowed-out pumpkin, and was as festive as it was delicious. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years to make it less sugary-sweet (and hence less caloric), but it’s still every bit as yummy, and no doubt a lot healthier than sipping flavored coffees all day.
Even better, my kids love it, too. They’re fond enough of apples that they are happy to eat sliced apples raw (as I am); but if your kid is not a huge fan of vegetables, you can use this dip plus ginger snaps as a sneaky vehicle to get a little vegetable and dairy matter into your offspring’s belly. It also works well with celery sticks. And if you’re looking for a filling snack and wanting to eat something healthy but craving something sweet, eating an apple or some celery plus this dip should fit the bill.
Best of all, if your kids attend a school that (like my daughters’ preschool) bans all nut products – or if your own child has a nut allergy – then this makes a satisfying alternative to peanut butter as a topper for apple slices or celery sticks in their lunch box.
Pumpkin Dip – The Basic Recipe
One 15-oz can (approximately 2 cups) pureed pumpkin
One block (8 oz.) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. ginger
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Serve with apple wedges and ginger snaps. Refrigerate leftovers.
Mix it up:
- Instead of straight powdered sugar, I tend to make this with 3/4 cup each powdered sugar and Splenda for Baking, which further cuts calories. If you use a different sugar substitute, be sure to read the directions on the package and adjust the amount accordingly – I forgot to do this once, with an off-brand Splenda for Baking substitute, and the result was much too sweet!
- Likewise, you can also cut calories and fat by substituting neufchatel (“light” cream cheese) for the block of regular cream cheese in the recipe.
- As noted above, you can also serve this as a dip for celery sticks, or as a spread to top toast or crackers.
- If you want to make this a festive appetizer for company, hollow out a pumpkin approximately 6 inches in diameter to use as a serving bowl.
- You can substitute cooked butternut squash, fresh-cooked pumpkin, or other cooked orange squash for the canned pumpkin, if you like. Just be prepared for the fact that the dip might not be the same pretty orange color when you’re done, depending on the color of the cooked squash you’re using – which may make it a less appetizing option for serving to guests or to finicky kiddos.