You guys, I think I’ve found it. My go-to snack to bring along to football parties and cocktail parties, game nights and play dates. Of course it screams fall, but you know me, and I probably won’t limit it. Pumpkin dip in May? Why not? Everyone loves it, and I guarantee no one else is bringing it.

Actually I should clarify that no one else is bringing this pumpkin dip. There’s another one out there, popular in many circles, mine included. It’s a creamy, luscious concoction of pumpkin and spices whipped with cream cheese and powdered sugar. Like pumpkin cheesecake meets frosting. What’s not to love?

I love it all, too much. That’s why I had to come up with a less-guilt version. One I would feel good about eating straight off a spoon from the fridge, at breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do it. Oh, and I also can’t resist a good, “what do you mean there’s [insert out-of-place ingredient] in this? Where do you even come up with this stuff??

Truthfully, I just tell them I read blogs. And I learn things like, cashews make a good substitute for creamy things. Like the cream in soup – you can replace it with a pureed roasted garlic cashew cream to make one delicious tomato bisque. And then use the leftovers to make a heck of a cauliflower puree that your favorite mashed-potato-loving dude will swoon over. It works for sweet things too, like this mascarpone-like filling for blintzes. And pumpkin dip. Creamy, whipped, luscious pumpkin dip that makes quite the conversation piece as well as a yummy treat for any occasion, like, Monday afternoon.

Go for it.

PS: My new favorite recipe for crunchy, spicy gingersnaps (they also happen to be gluten free, vegan and naturally sweetened but I swear you wouldn’t know) can be found in my friend Ricki Heller’s new book, Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free. I’ll be reviewing it in a few more weeks!

PPS: there’s a very awesome blogging event going on called 12 Weeks of Winter Squash and it’s hosted by one of my favorite orange-vegetable loving friends, Joanne of Eats Well With Others and Heather of Girlichef. If you love pumpkin, you’re in the right place. And we hope you’ll check them all out below and share with #12WksWinterSquash if you’re so inclined!

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Creamy Pumpkin Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6-8 hours (chill time)

A luscious pumpkin pie dip with a creamy cashew base. Naturally sweetened and gluten free, it's a perfect party please-er for fall gatherings. Pair it with crispy gingersnaps and apple slices.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews*
3/4 cup vanilla unsweetened almond milk
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid vanilla stevia
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled

Directions:

Combine cashews, almond milk and lemon juice in a high speed blender* and blend until nearly smooth, about 1 minute. Add salt, stevia, pumpkin, pie spice and maple syrup and continue blending until completely smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the blender as needed. Lastly, blend in the coconut oil. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and chill overnight.

*If you do not have a high speed blender, you'll need to soak the cashews in water for 3-4 hours, drain, and then proceed with the recipe.

Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com