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Celebrate National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day (The Vegan Way!)

Mmm...A taste of fall! (Photo by Patrick M. Gookin, II)

Sisters Jenny Engel and Heather Goldberg are on a mission to prove that vegan eating doesn't have to be about deprivation. They were both environmental science majors in college and decided to cut out all animal products form their diets about 12 years ago. At that time, "there weren't many vegan products available, so we started to cook everything for ourselves. It's how we could find the best options," Engel says.

They both dropped 20 pounds and found that they slept better and naturally lowered their cholesterol while being vegan. To spread the word about lessons they learned experimenting in the kitchen, Engel and Goldberg began teaching live and online cooking classes, eventually amassing a "treasure trove of recipes," according to Engel.

The pair's new cookbook, Spork-Fed (available now and including a foreward by fellow sisters, actresses Emily and Zooey Deschanel!), aims to educate and empower readers to create meals free of meat, eggs and dairy that will satisfy all appetites. "Our favorite dishes tend to be comfort foods, like pot pie, biscuits and gravy and collard greens, because they appeal to both vegans and non-vegans," Goldberg says.

With that in mind, we asked the Spork-Fed sisters to share a recipe for one of their go-to fall desserts. It's perfect timing, as today marks National Pumpkin Cheesecake Day!

Click below for a how-to for this sweet treat.

Did you know that about 99 percent of pumpkins in America are used for carving around Halloween? Make good use of the vitamin A-packed squash with this creamy dessert. Each slice of this pie provides more than 100 percent of your recommended daily value of the vitamin!

Pumpkin Cheesecake With a Gingersnap Crust

Serves 8-10

Crust

  • 1 1/2 cups organic vegan gingersnap cookies (about 24 cookies)
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons neutral tasting oil
  • 1/4 cup brown or palm sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Pumpkin Filling

  • 2 (8-ounce) containers vegan cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 1 (15-ounce) can organic pumpkin, or pumpkin pie filling
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt

For the crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place cookies, almonds, ginger, oil, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sea salt in a food processor and pulse until uniform, about 20 to 25 times. Mixture should be a crumbly, even consistency that pulls away from the walls of food processor.
  3. Grease a springform pan. Use damp hands to firmly press mixture into pan to form crust. Be sure to evenly distribute mixture and use thumbs to press crust into corners of pan. Bake for 7 minutes, to help crust stick together.

For the filling:

  1. In a food processor, add cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, flour, lemon juice, oil and sea salt. Blend until uniform.
  2. Pour filling into baked crust and gently tap mixture on counter to release any trapped bubbles. Bake for about 40 minutes or until mixture is slightly browned on top and feels firm when pan is slightly shaken.
  3. Remove from oven and allow cheesecake to cool on counter for at least 2o minutes, then refrigerate for 4 hours to overnight before serving, to firm up.

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