Cheesecake Chill Out

by Christina Meyer-Jax, Tastemaker in Residence 

When National Cheesecake Day falls on July 30, my thoughts immediately go to no-bake and healthier ingredients. It’s summer after all! Who needs to fire up the oven and have a heavy dessert?

Photo by  Patrick Selin  on  Unsplash

Simple Swap and Strategies

  1. To keep portion size in check and to give the best possible visual appeal, I suggest using wide mouth canning jars (half pint size). Since it’s not a traditional cheesecake, using a regular pan and slicing doesn’t always result in clean-cut pieces. This also allows you to customized toppings when displayed in individual jars.

  2. Base of no-bake cheesecake is a blend of cream cheese (can use reduced fat, but don’t go all the way with no-fat…not tasty or worth it) and lower fat Greek yogurt. I like to use plain yogurt and add flavor extracts such as: orange, lemon, almond, or vanilla for a lower calorie flavor boost. You could use a flavored Greek yogurt; just know it’s increasing the added sugar content.

  3. Use nuts and dates in the unbaked crust! They are great source of healthy fats and fiber. Any nut will do, but I like cashews due to their creamy texture. It also ends up being grain free.

  4. Use mostly fresh fruit to top your cheesecake. Lower in calories and full of summer flavor and nutrition. If you need a little chocolate, sprinkle mini-chips or use chocolate spirals.

Basic Recipe for: Cheesecake Chill Out

Makes 6 jars

Ingredients

Crust:

1 cup pitted dates

1 cup nuts (cashews are my favorite)

1/8 tsp salt

For the Cheesecake:

8 oz cream cheese (regular or reduced fat)

1 cup Greek yogurt (plain ideally)

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

2 Tbsp lemon juice

1 Tbsp flavor extract of choice (vanilla, orange, lemon, etc)

1/8 tsp salt

Choices of Toppings:

Fresh berries

Pineapple (small dice)

chocolate spirals or mini-chips

lemon or lime zest

candied lemon or ginger peel

sliced almonds

Instructions

No-Bake Crust:

  1. Add the dates, cashews, and salt into the food processor and mix until a loose ball forms.

  2. If the crust is a little dry, add a tablespoon or so of warm water and then mix until the ingredients come together.

  3. Add roughly a tablespoon of the crust to 6 glasses/canning jars and use a spoon to press it into the bottom of the jar.

Cheesecake:

  1. Place all of the cheesecake ingredients in the food processor and mix until smooth and creamy.

  2. Spoon the cheesecake mixture evenly into the 6 jars and smooth out the top.

  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with your choice of toppings as listed above or add what makes you happy! Enjoy!