Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sometimes You Just Need Cheesecake

As the GAL (gluten free, allergic living) member of Yankee Belle, sometimes it is plain torture to read the delicious posts of my compadres. Whether you're watching what you eat due to health restrictions, allergies or ethical beliefs, living around food and foodies can be a challenge.  I just read about a vegan blogger who developed orthorexia, over focus on ethical eating. Another ate too much kale and found it interfered with her thyroid levels as too much of a good cruciferous thing can. And I lost too much weight when my allergies were first diagnosed a decade ago because I was afraid of dying at any moment from hidden corn syrup!

That's not a way to live. No matter how hard it is, you need variety in your diet. You need more than green leaves every day, all day or so much pumpkin your hands turn orange (don't ask!).  And maybe sometimes you just need cheesecake. I blame it on the fact that cheesecake was my birthday cake growing up. I associate it with comfort food. It is friendlier toward diets needing protein, less sugar, and fewer carbs. 

Ruthy's Triple Berry Cheesecake looked so scrumptious but thanks to my allergies to corn and wheat it was out. I ignored Ruthy. Or rather Ruthy's post. How could she do that to me?

But one day last week, things in my life transpired to make me declare, "I need cheesecake" and I immediately thought of Ruthy's recipe.

The berry flavor.  I wanted Ruthy's cheesecake - but what fruit did I have? My sister and I had eaten almost all my cherries but I did have a pint of black berries. Except ManO says he doesn't like the seeds in blackberries. Hmmmmm, so I cooked down what I had and strained it to make a sauce. Note: I cut the sugar level because I've gotten rid of a lot of sugar out of my diet.

Confused about the PBJ picture here? Keep reading.

Berry Cherry Sauce:
1 cup cherries
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
water to dissolve sugar
1 tablespoon tapioca starch (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Boil until fruit is soft, pressing spoon against softened fruit. Turn to low and simmer twenty minutes for a thin sauce.

Happy Accident: Add tapioca starch at the start if you want a more jelly type consistency. I was so thrilled to have jelly on my peanut butter toast!  It will still have a drizzle consistency for your cheesecake if you leave it out a few minutes but straight out of the fridge it is perfect for PBandJ.

Now to the crust.  Ruthy used Nilla Wafers. I didn't have any gluten free wafers in the house but I  just made my own gluten-free granola. Tah dah! Necessity is indeed the mother of invention. That and a bunch of granola crust recipes online! Don't let lack of ingredients keep you from getting something you really want.

Make sure you pulverize your granola but still leave small bits of oat.

Granola Crust:
2 cups granola WITHOUT fruit bits
4 tablespoons butter

Pulverize two cups granola in a processor or blender until chopped up but not fine like flour. Add cold butter and mix. Press into pie plate. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes and take out of oven.
Two eggs are hiding under here to add a bit more protein.

The cheesecake: The most important part, right?  I needed a recipe that was lower in sugar, higher in protein, and organic everything for me. I also knew vanilla would bring out the sweetness and almond would give it a bit of gourmet flavor.

Pie filling:

2 packages softened organic cream cheese
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic almond extract
2 organic Omega-3 eggs

Mix all ingredients until just blended with a mixer.  Pour into granola crust and bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until center is set. Take out and cool on counter for 15 minutes and then place in refrigerator until cool, at least two hours.

Top with your berry-cherry sauce and voila! Just what ManO and I needed! 

So what about you? Any food you just HAVE to have when you are low or for a party or just because? What have you had to adapt to fit your lifestyle or your family's tastes or because you hate an ingredient?


  1. YUMMY!

    I'm so making that cherry sauce. I never thought of something like that!

    1. And they were West Coast cherries. Have at it!

  2. Cheese cake is right up there with Asiago cheese bagels and dark chocolate with sea salt. Works of the devil. I have a silver cross on my door to keep them out.

    1. Sigh. Even garlic on my counter didn't help.

  3. And I DO hope you understand that we're not posting food you can't have just to be mean. I honestly don't think about it most of the time. My friend can't have eggs, an before she told me (how does she live??) I hadn't thought about changing recipes to be eggless. Meatless, sure. But eggless? Crazy.
    Anyway, these yummy posts are just what we can cook, where we are, with people who will (we hope) eat them. I'm so glad you can broaden our blog post horizons with allergy-free recipes!

    1. No worries. Remember, you all added me as the GAL because I kept writing how to adapt the recipes in comments! It is second nature to me. Folks with allergies learn how to adapt. We shouldn't expect the world to adapt to us. Lawsy, we wouldn't eat anything if folks had to create recipes without all the allergens in this world.

  4. I mostly drool over evertyhing because otherwise I'd have to go through all these steps to cook stuff..toolazy and time challenged for that! and your hubby sure is spoiled -straining out the seeds..I'd just decide there would be more for me if hubby didnt' like the seeds LOL! not that I like the seeds either but I can tolerate a lot if it involves sugar...

    1. My daughter and ManO both inherited the I hate texture thing. I prefer jam over jelly but then I don't have the seeds stuck under my gums if I do it ManO's way. You are right. Sugar makes almost everything better.

  5. Yum -- cheesecake is divine no matter how it's prepared -- even made with tofu. Don't go ewwwww --- it tastes divine if it's been prepared by someone who knows what they are doing!

    My daughter has a number of allergies so we have adapted lots. Luckily she can have spelt flour so it's been easy to swap regular flour for spelt in any recipe. And she can't have dairy at all. When I'm baking for her I use egg replacer and soy milk.

    I have to say that there are tons of fantastic alternative foods out there now. I live in a trendy fringe of the inner city neighbourhood and all the restaurants have multiple choices for allergy/vegetarian diners. And there's even a place that has started serving coconut cream -- ice cream made from coconut oil. Decadent! And of course, we have an awesome vegetarian restaurant. Oh and all the burger places have several meatless options as well. Mind you -- all that is very expensive so we don't eat out much but at least we have options when we do.

  6. First, Kav, I want to say how sorry I am for your loss of your dear little buddy/

    Now is the time for comfort food for sure. Sounds like it is a great place to live.

  7. It looks like you did a great job on your adaptation! One thing I like about cheesecake is that as long as you keep the basic cream cheese and egg ingredients (or acceptable substitutes), it's still a decadent dessert!

    And I would strain the seeds out of the blackberries for this sauce, too. I love blackberries, and seeds are fine in smoothies, but there is a limit :)

    I adapt things all the time, too. It's just part of cooking, isn't it?

    1. Cheesecake can take anything you throw at it. Chocolate chips, carob chips, swirls, peanut butter and jelly even and turn it into heaven.

      Adaptation is one of the fun parts of cooking. I think the only recipes I've ever followed exactly were those involved in bread baking.

    2. I agree, adaptation is what separates us from the monkeys.


    3. Yep but all I can picture is monkeys sticking a twig into an ant hill. I wonder what the equivalent human version is? Licking the bowl and spoon?

  8. This sounds delightful!!!! And what a clever way of making a delicious treat and staying within the diet restrictions! AWESOME!

    I love playing with cheesecakes, and I love dabbling with new things, but boy, come summer with inside work, outside work and life happening every weekend, I do not have a lot of at-the-stove imagination going on!

    Well done, Julie!

  9. Seriously, your recipe got me going. I hear you on the summer stuff. We had peach pancakes tonight for dinner. That was all I could muster but it passed muster with ManO.

  10. Adaptation is what separates us from the monkey's?? On the floor laughing.

    1. Says the woman who moves from cool mountain air to hot hot hot lowlands.