Archive for February, 2012
Until the past few years I haven’t been a fan of cheesecake. I think the aversion began when I was afraid of anything containing dairy, due to the fact I was told I was lactose intolerant and I would have major stomach issues. Turns out, I can eat dairy within reason and gluten was the culprit.
I thought I would give cheesecake another shot but with my twist on it. Since I eat a large majority of the things I create/make, it’s gotta be healthy or the waistline would suffer much more. I had great results with agar agar powder when making my coconut milk panna cotta so I thought I would give it a try with a no-bake cheesecake. This worked beautifully!!!
I made a no-cream cheese cheesecake with peanut butter, cottage cheese, almond milk and a no-bake chocolate crust and it has a rich and creamy texture and no fuss with a cracked top either! I’ve attempted a baked cottage cheesecake a couple times in the past with okay results – but it was nothing to write home about, this however is!
I served this cheesecake “plain” with chopped peanuts and another slice with a sour cherry compote – oh boy, this contrast is lovely! It’s the old-time favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich all dressed up in dessert form. The sweetness of the cheesecake, the saltiness of the peanut butter and the tartness of the cherry compote made me giggle with excitement. Strawberry or raspberries could also be subbed in place of the cherries for a yummy combo too.
Peanut Butter No-Bake Cheesecake
For chocolate crust (makes one 6 inch crust, can be doubled)
1/4 cup gluten free rolled oats
1/2 cup raw almonds, peanuts
2 Tbsp flaxseed meal (or your favorite GF flour)
2 Tbsp cocoa or cacao powder (or carob powder for caffeine free)
4 medjool dates (soaked if really dry)
dash of sea salt
1/4 cup of powdered coconut/palm sugar (I pulsed mine in my magic bullet)
1 cup of non-dairy milk, divided (I used unsweetened almond)
1 1/4 tsp agar agar powder (not flakes, will need 3x as much)
2 cups of 2% cottage cheese (if really watery, strain for 15 minutes – mine was really thick)
1/3 to 1/2 cup unsalted, natural creamy peanut butter (I used 1/2 cup) – can substitute sunbutter for peanut free
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
pinch of stevia extract or liquid stevia to taste
chopped raw or roasted unsalted peanuts
For sour cherry compote (inspired by my orange scented cranberry sauce)
1 1/4 cup frozen tart red cherries, chopped (could use fresh pitted cherries)
1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries (you could use frozen too)
3-5 Tbsp coconut palm sugar, honey, agave OR 7-110 medjool dates OR a combo (adjust sweetness to taste)
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup apple juice
For the crust:
1. In the bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients and pulse until combined. A ball should form and stick together. If too wet, add more oats, nuts or flaxseed meal and if too dry add a tiny drizzle of oil, milk or water and pulse again.
2. Press into a 6 inch springform pan (no need to grease) and set aside while you prepare the filling.
For the filling**:
1. In a small saucepan, combine agar powder, 3/4 cup of milk and powdered palm sugar and stir. Let side for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a blender or Vitamix, combine cottage cheese, peanut butter, vanilla, pinch of stevia and remaining 1/4 cup of milk. Blend until smooth and well incorporated (1-2 minutes)
3. Heat the agar, milk and palm sugar over medium heat until simmering and bubbles start to form. Stir constantly for one to two minutes until sugar is mostly dissolved and the mixture starts to thicken.
4. Remove from heat and add to blender. Blend immediately for one minute or until well combined.
5. Pour over prepared crust and let chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours up to overnight (or until set). Remove sides from spring form pan carefully, garnish with chopped nuts and serve with compote if desired. Enjoy!
For cherry compote (you will have extra after using for cheesecake, could use as a sauce for pancakes, breads, garnish etc):
1. In a medium saucepan, add all ingredients and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to bring to a simmer on medium-low and let cook for about 10 to 12 minutes.
2. Halfway through cooking (5-6 minutes) use a fork or a spoon to mash berries and cherries and release more of their juices. Let cook for another 5 minutes, occassionally stirring and mashing until thick. (sauce will thicken more as it cools)
3. Serve immediately warm or refrigerate until ready to serve for a chilled sauce. Heat on low to reheat if preferred warm and enjoy!
*If using dates for your sweetener for the compote, soak them until soft and puree them along with the juice before cooking
**Recipe Notes: I used one 6 in springform pan for the peanut butter cheesecake with the crust and poured the remaining filling into two glass serving dishes for a crustless cheesecake for kicks. This is an easy alternative if you don’t want to make the crust! You could pour it into cocktail glasses and serve with a compote or crushed gluten free graham crackers You could even make individual cheesecakes and divide and press the crust to the bottom of individual ramekins or glasses for easy serving.
Lately I haven’t had time for real thorough meals. I am either grabbing something on the go, picking up to-go from the hot bar at the local health food store or whipping up easy dishes like this one.
While I love being creative and combining various ingredients, most of recent “creative” meals have been out of necessity. You see, the last few times I’ve made it to the grocery store, I’ve gone without a list…leaving me with random items and unplanned meals. When faced with the question of ‘whats for dinner’, I grabbed items in the fridge that needed to be used up – cooked black beans, cooked green beans, one lonely squash, the remainder for hummus and an uncooked turkey burger patty. Random, yes but delicious and filling, it sure was!
You could make this a vegetarian/vegan friendly meal but using your favorite cooked grain instead of the meat. Use your favorite flavor of hummus as this drives the main flavoring of the dish. Hummus sauce is versatile and is scrumptious over any cooked vegetables, grains or meat. If you don’t have all of these ingredients on hand and you are a hummus fan, still try this “sauce” – I am in love
Clean Out the Fridge Saute with Hummus Sauce
1/3 lb ground meat (I used turkey) for vegetarian, could sub 1-2 cups cooked brown rice, millet, sorghum or quinoa
2-3 tsp coconut oil, butter, ghee or olive oil (use oil for vegetarian)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 cup cooked green beans
2/3 cup cooked black beans (white beans or chickpeas would work too)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup prepared hummus (or homemade) - I used original but use your favorite flavor
1-2 Tbsp lemon juice + water to thin
1. In a large skillet, heat oil/butter over medium heat. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir or whisk together hummus, lemon juice and a few tablespoons of water until makes a sauce with a drizzle consistency. Set aside.
2. Add meat and onions to the pan and saute until meat is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes and stirring occasionally.
3. Add garlic and squash and saute for 2 or 3 minutes.
4. Toss in cooked green beans and black beans and cook until heated through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving dishes and drizzle with prepared hummus sauce and enjoy!
This meal would be complete served with my hummus bread!
I’ve had a butternut squash sitting on my counter for about a month now. I actually forgot it was there since I’ve walked past it so many times that it’s become part of the kitchen decor.
Instead of letting it sit there “looking pretty”, I decided to make two dishes: the first being a vegetarian skillet hash and the other was a soup substituting butternut for the squash in my spicy kabocha coconut soup recipe !
This hash combines butternut squash with sweet raisins, sauteed mushrooms and creamy tangy goat cheese for a simple but flavor-packed vegetarian meal. I have noted substitutions for a vegan dish and other ingredients for different flavor variations – this is one of those flexible meals so use what you like!
Butternut Squash Skillet Hash
4 cups butternut squash cut in small cubes (1/2 in) or 3 1/2 cups shredded butternut squash (sweet potatoes would also be delicious)
1 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil, olive oil, butter, ghee or Earth Balance (use oil or Earth Balance for vegan)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp onion powder (I was out of onion and had to use a back-up – could sub 1/2 cup diced onion and add while cooking the squash)
dash of crushed red pepper (omit if you don’t like heat)
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I bet red bell pepper would be good too if mushrooms aren’t your favorite)
1/4 cup raisins (cranberries or golden raisins could be subbed)
2 handfuls of baby greens, optional but a variety of color (I used baby spinach, about 2 cups)
3-4 Tbsp goat cheese (or feta) (could use nutritional yeast for vegan for different flavor)
3 Tbsp chopped nuts or seeds (I forgot to add before taking photos, optional but good – I used a combo of walnuts and hemp seeds)
salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large skillet, heat oil/butter over medium heat. Add squash and season with salt and pepper. Saute for about 9-10 minutes until softened and cooked through, stirring occasionally.
2. Add garlic, onion powder, red pepper and mushrooms and saute for another 2-3 minutes until mushrooms are cooked. Toss in the raisins and greens and cook until greens are wilted, a minute or so.
3. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper if needed and toss with cheese and nuts/seeds. Serve while warm and enjoy!
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side dish (or one really hungry person)
99% of the time, I am unable to say no to chocolate. It’s a weakness…but why not indulge when it’s a healthy treat?
I can always come up with good reasons why I should and must consume more chocolate
I am really enjoying the “black cocoa” I received for my birthday. The end result truly does come out to be an incredibly deep black color that screams “DARK CHOCOLATE”.
Healthy, no-cook fudge was a must-make. A quick and easy chocolate recipe in chewy, gooey form – yes please!
Midnight Fudge (adapted from my Make-it-your-own-Chocolate Bark)
1 cup nut butter (I used half almond butter, half peanut butter before, all cashew butter and all almond butter – all good!)
5-6 Tbsp black cocoa powder (or you could use 1/2 cup regular cocoa or cacao powder)
2 Tbsp coconut oil (use refined for no coconut taste, use unrefined for a slight coconut taste)
5-6 medjool dates (soaked for 30 minutes in water if too dry)
2-3 Tbsp honey, agave, maple syrup or brown rice syrup OR 3 more dates (or more to taste if you like a sweeter fudge)
pinch of sea salt
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or other add-in, optional)
1. In a bowl of a food processor, add all ingredients except for walnuts. Pulse until well combined.
2. Stir in walnuts or other add-ins and stir until well combined (use your muscles!).
3. Press fudge mixture into a small loaf pan lined with plastic wrap or wax paper and let chill in freezer for a couples hour or refrigerator for 3-4 hours. Cut into small bars and enjoy!
Store bars in fridge or freezer.