Eggless Coconut ‘Cheesefake’

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

From Washington Post’s Food Section, this recipe is a no-bake, healthier dessert than the traditional cheesecake. Greek yogurt & gelatin substitute cream cheese, and almonds & dates make up for processed graham crackers crust. It may look like a lot of work, but the recipe is pretty easy to make.

I will be honest, it does not taste exactly like regular cheesecake. But at about half the calories, it does not compromise on taste and texture. Tangy and coconuty, it does not seem like a winter dessert. But I thought I should share, just in case there was someone looking for a guilt-free dessert recipe.

Coconut ‘Cheesefake’

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

(Serves 10-12)

MAKE AHEAD: The cake needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

FOR THE CRUST

  • 16 pitted dates, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups (skinless) slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (solidified)

FOR THE FILLING

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons (2 packets) unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups plain low-fat greek-style yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1) For the crust, use a 9-inch springform pan.

2) Pulse the dates, almonds and coconut oil in a food processor till well incorporated.

3) Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan; use a piece of wax paper to do this if you don’t want to get your hands sticky.

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

 

4) Wipe out the food processor bowl.

5) For the filling: Heat the coconut water in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH for a few seconds, until it is hot (but not boiling).

6) Add the lemon juice, then stir in the powdered gelatin until it has dissolved.

7) Blend the yogurt, coconut and vanilla extract in the food processor to desired consistency (if you like the texture of coconut, coarse blend; if you like just the flavor, blend fine).

8) Add the gelatin mixture and puree until smooth. Pour on top of the crust, leveling the surface.

9) Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

10) To serve, dip a knife into very hot water before cutting each piece. Serve plain, top with fruit, or drizzle with chocolate sauce.

Coconut 'Cheesefake'

Refrigirate leftovers in a tightly covered container. Use within a day or two (it tastes fine, but gets a little soggy if stored longer).

3-ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

3-Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

This is seriously one of the easiest and tastiest desserts you can make for the holidays (or anytime!). I made them during Thanksgiving, and it’s definitely something I will be making again. You can make them ahead of time for your dinner party, take them for a pot luck, or give them as holiday gifts.

I had to share pictures of my two hand models – my precious little nieces Jyothi & Kerah. They were paid with sugary treats 🙂

3-ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

3-ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

3-ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

(Makes 30-35 pieces)

  • 1 (8 oz) pkg  Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate – (8 squares)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter – creamy or chunky
  • 1 tub (8 oz) Cool Whip – thawed

1) In a large microwaveable bowl, zap the chocolate on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir and return for 1 more minute. Remove and stir until completely melted.

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2) Mix in the peanut butter thoroughly and let it cool to room temperature.

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3) Gently stir in the Cool Whip till well mixed and refrigerate till ready to use, at least 1 hour.

4) Once chilled, scoop about 1 teaspoon full into your hands and roll into balls.

5) Roll in chopped nuts, powdered sugar, coconut flakes, crushed cookie crumbs, colored sugar, etc.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

Low in calories and high in soluble & insoluble fiber, lentils are a good source of protein as well as a good substitute for meat. They are filled with folate, iron, and other important nutrients. They require no pre-soaking and cook in about 20-30 minutes. The recipe below is delicious and freezes very well. I always make a large batch and pack 1-cup servings in small plastic containers to freeze and reheat for quick and healthy lunches on busy days. I prefer to use the easily available and inexpensive Brown Lentils as they hold their shape well, but I think you can substitute red ones if thats what you have on hand.

Brown Lentil Coconut Soup

(Makes about 8 1-cup servings)

  • 2 cups lentils
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 medium onions (about 1 heaped cup) – chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – pureed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 4 garlic cloves – grated
  • 2 Tbsp ginger paste (about 1 1/2 inch)
  • 1 tsp cayenne / red chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
  • 2 cups frozen / fresh kale or spinach
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice
  • sour cream (optional)

1) Pick through the lentils and make sure there is no dirt or stones. Rinse and drain well.

2) In a large pan, add lentils and water and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce to low flame and cook covered about 20 minutes till tender, stirring mid-way.

3) In another pan, heat the oil and add onions. Saute till transparent.

4) Add ginger and garlic and saute till fragrant.

5) Add the spices and roast for a few seconds.

6) Mix in the tomato puree and heat, scraping the bottom.

7) When lentils are ready, mix with the onion-tomato mixture.

8) Add coconut milk and salt, and simmer on low about 10-15 minutes.

9) Add the kale/spinach and simmer an additional 5 minutes till it is wilted.

10) Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dollop of sour cream.

Tri-colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

Tri-Colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

How’s everybody doing after Thanksgiving holidays? We just got back Sunday night from a 5-day  family reunion that involved excessive amounts of food, wine, gossip, and couch time. I don’t think I can eat anymore junk for a few more days. This afternoon, I realized that my fridge and freezer were almost empty, and the only things in the vegetable crisper were 4 oranges, a handful of pomegranate seeds, and the last handful of organic spinach. Lunch had to be a salad and a cup of Brown Lentil Coconut Soup that I had frozen a few weeks ago. As I put all the fruits & veggies on the countertop, the colors struck me and I got thinking about how Vitamin C in citrus helps with iron absorption from spinach. Pomegranates are also considered a super food, rich in immune-boosting and anti-oxidant properties. The salad came together with simple ingredients that almost every kitchen will have. I must say, for someone who is a salad-hating carb junkie, this one was DELICIOUS!!

The ‘recipe’ really is made to taste and I didn’t measure anything. All measurements below are approximate; taste and adjust as you like.

Tri-Colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

Tri-Colored Antioxidant Rich Salad

(Serves 1)

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pre-washed organic spinach
  • 1 orange (peeled & sliced)
  • handful pomegranate seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds / chopped nuts of your choice
  • 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of salt *
  • dash of pepper (optional)

1) Spread spinach on a plate.

2) Top with the orange slices.

3) In a small bowl, use a small whisk or fork and mix together honey, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper for a few seconds till it is well incorporated.

4) Pour over the spinach and oranges.

5) Top with pomegranate seeds and nuts. Enjoy!

*Adding a pinch of salt to the dressing brings out the sweetness, and makes you use less honey. Of course, if you prefer not to, then by all means leave it out.