The Makings of a Healthy Cheesecake
By Brandi Goodman
Cheesecake is a delicious dessert that many enjoy. There are even popular restaurants named after the dish, such as The Cheesecake Factory, which offer dozens or more different varieties. These easily come in at 400 calories per slice, making them less than ideal to eat any time of year, National Cheesecake Day (July 30) or not. However, a healthier cheesecake is possible as long as you know how to make the proper substitutions.
Homemade Cream Cheese
Cream cheese is one of the main ingredients in a cheesecake recipe. It's also loaded with sugar and calories. Make a homemade vegan version to reduce both. Raw cashews need to be soaked in water and then blended with lemon juice, coconut cream, salt, and white vinegar.
Most cheesecake recipes call for heavy cream. This has too much fat and should be avoided. To get a similar consistency, use a coconut milk yogurt instead. Greek yogurt is also a good choice. You'll get a bigger dose of protein from your cheesecake slice.
The sugar content in cheesecake is far too high. Cut it back by using a sugar substitute. Stevia is one option. You could also give organic maple syrup or honey a try for sweetness with added benefits. The taste may be a little different with each version; give each one a try and see which flavor is for you.
Make a Nut Crust
Graham crackers and butter are commonly used for many homemade cheesecake crusts. To avoid the fat and sugar from these ingredients, it's best to make a nut crust instead. Coconut oil, sea salt, and pure maple syrup can replace the butter consistency and add some sweetness along with crushed pecans. Add cocoa powder if you want a chocolate crust.
Top With Fresh Fruit
To up the nutrition of your finished cheesecake, top it with fresh fruit. You don't want to use the pie filling kind or have syrups added because they contain too much sugar. Just a few pieces of actual fruit on top and you'll have a healthy dessert that's worth enjoying. You can also sprinkle on a few nuts alone or with the fruit for another healthy solution.
Whether on Cheesecake Day or for a dessert any time you have a craving, a healthier homemade version is always best. Keep your cheesecake healthy and calorie-reduced for a treat that won't make you feel guilty.
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