Friday, August 3, 2012

Low-Carb Cheesecake

I tend to follow a low-carb diet. After years of trying to figure out what type of diet worked best for me, I determined that a high-protein, low-carbohydrate one was most beneficial. It provides me with energy without any sluggishness and that uncomfortably stuffed feeling that is so indicative of high-carb foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and potatoes. I get full without feeling full.
There is some controversy over low-carb and low-fat diets. If you are interested in trying out a low-carb diet, read this and this and this.
Eating low-carb meals is not difficult. You basically have the same food as everyone else, omitting the pasta, rice, bread, or other grain as well as any potatoes or other starchy ingredients. Pile your plate high with protein and veggies and you're set.
The problem arises when you consider desserts. Flour and sugar, the two key ingredients in baking, are both loaded with carbohydrates. But there are ways of following a low-carb diet and eating your dessert too!
Cheesecake happens to be a perfect low-carb dessert as it needs no flour and is made with cream cheese, which is a high-protein, low-carb food.

Below is a recipe for a whipped, no-bake, low-carb cheesecake that is delicious, filling and perfect for even those non-low-carb eaters..! It's great paired with berries (another low-carb option) or a swirled pouf of whipped cream sweetened with Splenda.
I've used a nut base rather than the typical graham cracker/cookie crumb crust and the cheesecake is sweetened with Splenda rather than sugar. I've also thrown in a handful of Oreo cookies just for flavor, but not too much to pile on the carbs. Of course, the Oreo cookies can be left out of this recipe and the cheesecake would be just as delightful! With the Oreos, the carbohydrate count is 8.1g per slice based on an 8-slice cheesecake. Without them, it is 3.6g. Personally, I think the extra 4.5g carbs are totally worth it for a once-in-a-while splurge without any guilt.

If you ever want to calculate the nutritional value of a recipe, check out the recipe analysis page on Calorie Count. It's user-friendly design accepts recipes as written and produces a quick, informative nutritional analysis faster than you can pull out your calculator.
The fact that this dessert is no-bake makes it a wonderful summer dessert option because who wants to turn on their oven in these hot summer months? This cheesecake is also much lighter than its traditional baked cousin. Try it if you want a refreshing airy dessert that satisfies all of your dessert cravings..!

No-Bake Low-Carb Cheesecake
(Created by Leelabean)

For the filling:
16 oz (2 blocks) cream cheese, softened
3/4 c heavy whipping cream
1/4 c water
1 1/2 t gelatin, powdered
1 c Splenda (or another low-carb sweetner)
2 t vanilla
5 Oreo cookies, crushed (optional)

For the crust:
2 T unsalted butter, melted
1/4 c walnuts, ground
1/2 c almonds, ground

Spray an 8" springform pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/4 c water in a small microwaveable bowl. Set it aside for about 5 minutes.
Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until is it smooth and lump-free. Add your whipping cream and beat, first slowly, then increasing the speed once the cream cheese has been incorporated, so that the whipping cream starts to thicken.
Meanwhile, microwave the gelatin and water mixture for about 10-15 seconds, keeping an eye on it so it doesn't bubble over. Once warmed, the gelatin will be smooth and flowing. Pour this into the cream cheese mixture. Beat well. Spoon the Splenda into the cream cheese mixture, followed by the vanilla. Blend on medium high so as to dissolve the Splenda and create a smooth filling. Scrape down the sides of your bowl and continue to mix until you have a homogeneous filling. Fold the crushed Oreos into this filling if you are using them.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter with the ground walnuts and the ground almonds. Mix until you have a paste-like consistency. With moistened hands, carefully pat down a thin layer of the nut mixture into the base of the prepared 8" springform pan. Pour the filling onto the base and tap the pan a few times on the counter to eliminate any air pockets that may have formed during pouring. Smooth the top with an offset spatula. Loosely cover the cheesecake with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours before serving.
This cheesecake will last in your refrigerator for about 5 days, covered in plastic wrap.

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