The great and wonderful pumpkin is one of my most-loved foods this time of year! Whenever I smell cinnamon and pumpkin, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Classic pumpkin pie, especially when it’s made by my Uncle Paul at Thanksgiving, will always be my favorite. Yet, I am constantly looking for recipes to use pumpkin in new ways. I’ve recently made pumpkin spice cake, cinnamon pumpkin pancakes, and a great recipe I got from the nice folks at Weight Watchers, Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars (see recipe below). I made these bars for “Girls Night In” at my house this past weekend and everyone loved them!
The great thing about pumpkin is that it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Pumpkin is low in calories and is packed full of fiber and vitamins. It adds great flavor and moistness to baked goods like bread, cakes, and muffins. Canned pumpkin, which has the same health benefits as fresh pumpkin, is on sale in many stores right now, so stock your pantry with this delicious and nutritious treat. If you’re making a recipe that doesn’t require you to use the entire can of pumpkin, pop it in a freezer safe container, as canned pumpkin freezes very well.
As you are scooping out your jack-o-lanterns this week, don’t forget to save the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a great source of iron and other trace minerals and are pretty tasty when you toast or roast them. AllRecipes.com has a variety of tempting recipes, such as Cinnasweet pumpkin seeds and spiced maple pumpkin seeds.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab a can of pumpkin and whip it into a tasty treat your whole family will love! Here is my Meal Plan for this week, and the recipe for the Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars.
Monday ~ Chicken & Pesto with Angel Hair Pasta and Salad
Tuesday ~ Chicken Marsala with Wild Rice and Asparagus
Wednesday ~ Fend for Yourself Night! I am teaching a Coupon Workshop tonight.
Thursday ~ Coconut Crusted Tilapia with Jasmine Rice and Veggies
Friday ~ Turkey and Gravy with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Saturday ~ Creamy Chicken and Noodles in the Crockpot
Sunday ~ Dinner out with my Husband
Weight Watchers Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Serving size: 1 bar, 1/16th of 9” cake
Weight Watchers® PointsPlus® value: 5 per serving
Prep time: 30 minutes plus 3 hours refrigeration time
Cook time: 45 minutes
Non-stick cooking spray
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 ounces Weight Watchers® Reduced Fat Cream Cheese Spread, cut into 1” pieces
4 ounces plain fat-free Greek yogurt
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
¼ cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350F.
Spray a 9” square pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Melt butter in medium sized bowl in microwave, approximately 1 minute. Stir in graham cracker crumbs and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon. Press evenly into bottom of pan to make a firm crust.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, yogurt, and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add flour, vanilla, and eggs. Beat until thoroughly combined. In a medium mixing bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar and remaining spices. Add ¾ cup cheesecake batter. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth.
Pour pumpkin batter into pan and carefully (so as not to break the crust) spread evenly over crust with a knife or spatula. Top with cheesecake batter, also spreading until smooth.
Insert a knife or spatula in the batter and rotate to make swirls, each 3 inches apart.
Bake 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. Cover tightly with foil. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or overnight before serving. Serve within 3 days.
To serve, cut cake into 16 equal bars