By Aylin Erman, EcoSalon
This cheesecake not only takes a vegan twist but lands itself in a cup.
It would be too good to be true if one of our most beloved desserts loved us back, but cheesecake fails to follow through. It’s a dessert that tastes phenomenal but is enjoyed rarely because of its heaviness and calorie concentration. Luckily, there are ways to make cheesecake lighter and healthier. This raw strawberry cheesecake recipe keeps the traditional cheesecake textures in check, but raises the bar on nutritional benefit.
The Cheesecake Factory’s Fresh Strawberry Cheesecake has 733 calories, 29 grams of saturated fat, 425 milligrams of sodium and 66 grams of carbohydrates in each slice. If these stats weren’t cringe-worthy enough, add a few other flavors, and the calorie count goes through the roof. A slice of the chain’s Adam’s Peanut Butter Cup Fudge Ripple Cheesecake bears a whopping 1,326 calories, 20 grams of saturated fat, 700 milligrams of sodium, and 136 grams of carbohydrates – this dessert alone practically satisfies an entire day’s worth of caloric intake!
When you make your own homemade cheesecake using the traditional ingredients of cream cheese, eggs, and sugar, the nutritional information ranges, but can be relatively more redeeming if the portion size is kept in check. Still, the use of heavy, hard-to-digest cream cheese, fatty eggs, and empty-calorie sugar are in the ingredient list and aren’t doing your body or your health many favors.
This recipe is a raw version of cheesecake, no cooking needed! There is no sugar, no dairy, and no eggs. The recipe retains its richness with the use of nuts as the base, but because the cheesecake is served in “mini” cups, you can keep your portion control in check while still getting the definitive, dense dessert that cheesecake is all about.
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
For the Crust:
- 1.5 cups walnuts
- 1 ½ cups raisins
- Dash of sea salt
For the Filling:
- 2 cups cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup honey (or maple syrup or agave nectar)
- Dash of sea salt
For the filling, soak cashew overnight in room temperature water. This is an important step. Soaking helps to remove the enzyme inhibitors that the cashews carry to prevent them from sprouting in nature. Birds are too small to deal with the effects of live enzymes in their tiny bellies, so the inhibitors are ideal for them, but not so much for humans. Getting rid of the enzyme inhibitors through soaking helps us to more easily digest nuts. All nuts have to be soaked to get rid of these enzyme inhibitors, save for pistachios and walnuts.
For the crust, food process the raisins and walnuts until the mixture resembles chunky crumbs.
Press the crust mixture against the bottom and sides of small glass ramekins or muffin tins.
Drain and rinse the soaked cashews before use. Combine all the filling ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth. This may take a few minutes. Be patient – it’ll come together.
Fill each walnut crusted ramekin with a generous tablespoon of the cashew cheesecake mixture.
Set in the refrigerator to help firm or to store for later. You can also eat them right away. Garnish with fresh strawberries before serving.
Aylin Erman currently resides in Istanbul and is creator of plant-based recipe website GlowKitchen.