I made this dip as a snack for my Spring into Balance stress-management workshop on March 7th at Willow Glen Yoga. The photos could be better, but I’ll update them the next time I make it.
The idea for this dip was planted in 2012, during my first visit to Australia to meet my future in-laws. My Aussies have an afternoon ritual called “Cheers Beers.” It’s like afternoon tea, or chai-time; but instead of chai, you have beer; and instead of khari biscuits and chivda, you have chips, dips and cheeses. Instead of musing about the weather and cricket, you muse about the weather and cricket with an Aussie accent.
As you’d expect, I was there for the snacks. In particular, there was a ‘roasted pumpkin, cashew and parmesan cheese dip‘ that checked all the scrumptious boxes for me. It was savory, nutty, slightly cheesy and very addictive. I couldn’t get enough of it!
As I loaded up my cracker with a dollop of this deliciousness for the 37th time, I began to wonder how sustainable this dip addiction was. My time in Australia was running out, and since there was no feasible or legal way to take this dip home with me, I knew I’d have to figure out how to recreate it back in California.
Then, as is often the case (blame it on jet lag), I forgot all about the dip until I went back to Australia two years later.
So, there I was in December 2014, scanning the Queensland supermarket aisles for “Cheers Beers” snacks, when I vaguely remembered a “pumpkin-cashew dip” and became obsessed with finding it. But as luck would have it, they’d stopped selling it. And since I could no longer locate the original ingredients, I had to rely on my memory to piece it together.
So, here it is – my version of “the dip.”
- Roasted butternut squash
- Pumpkin seeds
- Nutritional Yeast
- Extra-virgin olive oil
The combination of flavors makes it comforting, yet dangerously addictive.
But what makes it useful for stress?
First, all winter squash is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin C – which are antioxidants and helpful for lowering oxidative stress. Next, most nuts and seeds (particularly pumpkin seeds) are rich in zinc, another key antioxidant beneficial during times of stress, along with magnesium (a relaxant), along with an ideal nutrient profile for blood sugar regulation – namely, fiber, protein and healthy fats. Nutritional yeast (AKA hippie fish food) is not only full of B-vitamins which are helpful for energy production, stress reduction and a healthy nervous and immune system) but also tastes like cheese and what could go wrong with that? Finally, rosemary ranks high on the antioxidant scale (ORAC) and garlic is both anti-viral and anti-microbial (helpful for the immune system).
You can find the seeds and nuts in any health food store, in the bulk bins or packaged snacks section. You’ll also find the nutritional yeast in most health food stores in the seasoning section (although it may not be available in every country). Or you’ll find it in a bulk bin. Either way, you can start with the Bragg’s brand of nutritional yeast (if available).
While this is not quite the Aussie pumpkin-cashew dip I remember, it’s the dip of my dreams and I hope you’ll enjoy it. xo
Savory Roasted Pumpkin Cashew Dip (Vegan)
- Food processor or hand-chopper
- 1.5 cups roasted butternut squash (any winter squash or pumpkin will work)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (shell-free)
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves (more if needed)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp sea salt (more if needed)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp lemon juice (if needed)
- Put all the ingredients into a food processor. If using a hand-chopper, start with the oil, garlic, rosemary and sea salt to make sure it gets mixed in properly.
- Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
- Serve with crackers or veggie sticks.