Thanksgiving is one of the year’s best holidays, coinciding with the fall harvest when produce is abundant. Recipes full of Brussels sprouts, potatoes, apples, root vegetables, and, of course, pumpkin, fill my fall plate. It’s a holiday inspired by what’s local, in-season and fresh – something I can easily get behind. And, it’s a holiday focused on food, family and friends.
At Thanksgiving, my family is a little less traditional. We usually do a hike of some sort, taking our cameras to capture the fall foliage that’s just beginning to show signs of transformation. Dinner could be anything (I’ve even once made a lasagna), but one thing is for sure: pumpkin is non-negotiable at dessert. Having just released an entirely pumpkin cookbook, Purely Pumpkin, I’ve become extremely well acquainted with the gourd, enjoying it equally as well in classic, sweet preparations as I do in modern, savoury dishes.
When making pumpkin into dessert, much of the work is already done for you, as it is naturally sweet, meaning less additional sugar is required. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene (vitamin A) and fibre, making it a filling, healthful choice for use in your recipes. In quick breads, muffins, cakes and cookies, it acts much the same as banana, adding moisture without a load of additional fat, while boosting fibre content and sweetness.
Pumpkin desserts are a treat to make, blending beautifully with classic warming spices such as ginger, cloves and cinnamon – all key components of pumpkin spice. These spices also lend health benefits, bringing a bit of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action to the dessert table.
Pumpkin cheesecake has become nearly as popular as pumpkin pie, though it requires a bit of planning ahead and additional time. For when I need a cheesecake fix on a busy weekday, I call on a deconstructed parfait version to satisfy my sweet tooth. In place of a large amount of cream cheese, using Bio-K+ gives a welcome tang along with belly-friendly probiotics. The combination of healthy fibre from the pumpkin and probiotics from the Bio-K+, along with a bit of soothing ginger present in the pumpkin spice, create a feel-good dessert that helps to sooth digestion during this season of plentiful eating.
While these pumpkin cheesecake parfaits make a stellar last-minute dessert, they’re healthy enough to be enjoyed as a nourishing breakfast, and are a stunning addition to a Thanksgiving brunch table.
Whether your family celebrates Thanksgiving with a traditional feast, or goes off-grid as mine does, pumpkin desserts are a requisite part of the season’s eatings. Stir, build and enjoy – these healthy no-bake pumpkin cheesecake parfaits are sure to be a hit with any crowd.
No-Bake Bio-K+ Pumpkin Pie Mini Cheesecake Parfaits
The flavour of pumpkin cheesecake, in a healthy, no-bake parfait. Use your favourite homemade or store-bought granola, or substitute toasted chopped pecans for a grain-free treat.
Make sure all ingredients are chilled before assembling.
2 cups canned pumpkin (no pie filling), chilled
2 bottle Bio-K+ Original
1/2 cup pure maple syrup, plus more for serving
8 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, divided
¼ cup cashew butter or nut-free sunflower seed butter
2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup homemade or store-bought granola
In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, Bio-K+ Original, maple syrup, 4 Tbsp yogurt, cashew or sunflower seed butter, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, lemon juice and salt until well combined. To make this extra-creamy, prepare this portion in a blender or food processor. Spoon two-thirds of pumpkin mixture into small cups or parfait glasses to reach halfway, top with half of granola, remaining pumpkin mixture and dollop over remaining 4 Tbsp yogurt. Top with remaining granola and drizzle with maple syrup. Serve immediately.
Assemble this for a quick breakfast or snack-to-go by keeping granola and pumpkin cheesecake “filling” separate until you’re ready to dive in.