For the media

Let them eat cake

By The Health News Team | November 22, 2022
Pumpkin praline cheesecake

From tamales to pumpkin pie, the year-end is often marked by a myriad of not-so-healthy foods. But guilt, temptation and self-doubt aren’t good for you either — the occasional indulgence can be medicine for your soul.

Some holiday foods, while low on the health scale, are often rich in something else: tradition, conversation and the unique ability to bring friends and loved ones together.

“Not only does food provide our body with nourishment, but it can be a place where we find joy and connection through the process of preparing and sharing a meal with others,” says Sammi Montag, a certified intuitive eating counselor at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital. “We can create balance with the components of the main meal while still allowing desserts and other holiday favorites to have a seat at the table.”

JoAnn Siudara, a marketing specialist with Sharp Community Medical Group, knows first-hand how food and family can share an unbreakable bond. “My mother was a great baker,” she says. “She’d make up to 12 pies for family events, and her specialty, the crust, would make Julia Child smile.

As JoAnn’s mom grew older, it became her turn to prepare the pies.

“I’ll never forget the first time she tried my version of her pumpkin pie,” she says. “I had cheated and used a store-bought crust and I knew immediately that she’d never let me live it down. Needless to say, I never made that mistake again. Instead, I created my own holiday tradition, an indulgent pumpkin praline cheesecake with a funny story that always reminds me of my mom.”

Pumpkin Praline Cheesecake

Prep time:
20 minutes
Total time:
2 hours 45 minutes


Pie Crust

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs

  • 1/3 cup pecans, finely chopped

  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Pie Filling

  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

Praline Topping

  • 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

  • 1/3 cup whipping cream

  • 1/4 cup butter

  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Garnishes (optional)

  • Glazed pecans, coarsely chopped

  • Fresh sage leaves



Step 1: Prep the Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 325°. In a medium to large bowl , stir together graham cracker crumbs, pecans, butter and light brown sugar until blended well. In a 9-inch springform pan (a baking pan with removable sides), press mixture on bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the sides. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.


Step 2: Blend and Combine

Using a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar and vanilla extract at medium speed until blended and smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add pumpkin and lemon juice, beating until blended.


Step 3: Fill the Pie Pan and Cook

Pour batter into the prepared crust — the pan will be very full. Bake at 325° for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, or until almost set. Turn oven off. Let cheesecake stand in oven for 15 minutes with door closed. Remove cheesecake from oven, and gently run a knife around the outer edge of the cheesecake to loosen it from the sides of the pan. Do not remove sides of the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour. Cover and chill 8 to 24 hours. Remove sides and bottom of pan, and transfer cheesecake to a serving plate.


Step 4: Add the Praline Topping and Garnish

In a 1-quart saucepan, prepare the praline topping by bringing brown sugar, whipping cream and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Boil 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla extract, until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Use immediately.

Pour praline topping slowly over the top of the cheesecake, spreading to within 1/4 inch of the edge. Garnish with coarsely chopped glazed pecans and fresh sage leaves, if desired.


JoAnn Siudara


JoAnn Siudara is a marketing specialist at Sharp HealthCare.


Sammi Montag


Sammi Montag is a certified intuitive eating counselor at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital.

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