Soy cheesecake

I should start this post by saying that I’m not a fan of cheesecake.  It isn’t a dessert that I really enjoy and I would take a cookie or fruit crisp any day of the week.  However, about a month ago I bought some soy creamcheese to make some faux creamcheese icing for creamsicle cupcakes.  The soy cream cheese never made it into icing because I burnt the cupcakes (it happens), so now a month closer to expiry I was trying to figure out what to do with this imitation cream cheese.

My husband and my stepdaughters love cheesecake, even though it doesn’t always love all of them back.   Our youngest had never tried cheesecake due to severe reactions to dairy so I decided to make a cheesecake that she could enjoy.

I looked at many recipes online for inspiration and had settled on this one.  It advertised itself as most excellent soy cheesecake.

As I assembled my ingredients I was a bit skeptical that anyone was going to enjoy this dessert.  Extra firm tofu, soy cream cheese and soy sour cream didn’t look like convincing substitutes when only mixed with lemon, eggs, sugar and vanilla, but at this point I was committed to the plan and had an excited 2 1/2 year old who wanted to help make cheesecake.

Here is the original recipe (with my modifications in bold):

Soy cheesecake

Crust:  1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

5 tablespoons melted margarine

Instead of graham cracker crumbs I used a 1/2 recipe of my brown sugar dough, baked in the oven about 10-12 minutes before putting the cheesecake on top.

Cheesecake: 1 1/2 cups Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu (1 package) I used a firm, organic, non-gmo tofu

12 ounces soy cream cheese

1/2 cup soy sour cream

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

fresh fruit or pureed fruit for topping (I used blueberries and raspberries that sat in the fridge with a little sugar overnight)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8″ springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the margarine until well blended. Press evenly over the bottom and partially up the sides of your pan.

In a food processor, combine the tofu, cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and lemon peel. Process until blended.

Pour into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until the cake is almost set in the center.

Turn off the oven, and leave the cake in the oven with the door open, for 20 minutes. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. Cover the cake and chill until set, about 6 hours or overnight. Serves 8 – 10.

I have to admit at this point to not following the directions exactly. When I was pouring the cheesecake part into the shell, I had too much cheesecake so I filled up to the top of my crust and put the rest in a separate dish to bake.  At the end of baking and cooling, I put the cheesecake in the pan in fridge like the directions said, to chill overnight.  My husband and I thought the other dish would be a yummy evening snack after kids went to bed.  We were very very wrong, it was pretty disgusting actually, kind of like a curdled baked pudding, yuck!  It didn’t give me high hopes for the cheesecake the next day but at that point I had a beautiful looking faux cheesecake that my daughter was very excited to eat.

The next day when I was slicing the cheesecake to serve at the party, I noticed that it looked different than our sample the night before and actually looked like cheesecake.  I was still cutting and serving when the first reviews came in and they were great!  The texture was entirely different than the night before, creamy and delicious.  The recommended time in the fridge is an necessary part of this recipe!  Everyone loved it, some wanted seconds but there were no seconds to be had.  I even quite enjoyed it, in some ways better than I would have enjoyed a cheesecake.  Even members of the family that usually avoid anything if they hear it is gluten free, heartily enjoyed it and asked what I had made it with if I didn’t use creamcheese.  This conversation soon ended at the mention of tofu, he didn’t want to know the rest because he was enjoying it too much 🙂

Faux cheesecake = huge success!!

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I love oats!

It may sound overly dramatic to confess that I love a grain, but I really do. When I originally went gluten free it was a step at a time (someday I will write about this and why I think it is the wrong way to become gluten free and why I think celiac testing is important before starting a gluten free diet). I was having severe digestive issues, my naturopath at the time suggested I stop eating wheat. I felt wonderful! Within days all my symptoms went away, I was still eating all the other non-gluten and gluten containing grains. As I got more proficient with cooking with grains I previously hadn’t really eaten often such as spelt, kamut and barley, I noticed one by one I was becoming far less tolerate and gradually began having the same reaction to each of them that I got when I ate wheat. Spelt and kamut were the first to go which made sense since they are ancient forms of wheat so many people react to them the same as they do to wheat, then barley wasn’t worth the consequences. Aside from being sad about missing out on my grandma’s cabbage rolls, losing barley wasn’t a big deal for me. Then very, very sadly I needed to say good bye to my 100% rye bread that I loved so much. That is one that I still miss and wish I could eat again. I was left with non-gluten grains and oats. I was ok, I loved oats and rice.

Then gradually I started to notice that if I ate too may oats I started to have issues. I was in denial for quite a while but eventually cut out the oats and felt much better. For years, I really missed oats. Then a few years ago, research came out proving that oats as a grain don’t contain gluten. They get contaminated through farming and processing and all commerical brands contained traces of wheat, barley or rye (usually wheat). This made sense, this meant that oats had to lowest levels of gluten and that is was only due to contamination that most gluten sensitive people were unable to tolerate oats. It took a few years but now there are many wonderful companies that sell oats that are gluten free (free from traces of wheat, rye and barley). These companies have farms that are dedicated to only growing oats and not other grains as well and use dedicated machinery and processing for their oats. At the end of the process assays are preformed to make sure the gluten level is below the minimum allowed level to qualify as gluten free These companies include Creamhill estates and Only Oats are the ones I most often buy. Some celiacs do react to the oat proteins (avenins) in a negative way and it isn’t recommended that celiacs eat more than 50-70 gram of pure oats/day. I also is generally recommended to wait until someone stabilizes on a gluten free diet before adding the pure oats in so that you can see if someone is reacting to them in a negative way. Having pure oats available can help someone who is celiac or gluten sensitive with variety in whole grains.

Oats are a great source of iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.  Oats can help reduce stress and in nursing moms can increase milk supply.  Oat bran can decrease cholesterol (though I have found it hard to find gluten free oat bran).  The fibre content in oats keeps you feeling full longer and keeps blood sugars stable, this is good news for diabetics, pre-diabetics and people trying to lose weight. And they are yummy!

I love oats as granola, as breakfast oatmeal with pecans and cranberries, in my favourite crispbread recipe (I love to use steel cut oats in it best, tastes like the oat cakes I used to love before becoming gluten free!) and in these tasty cocoa sunflower almond butter balls.

Enjoy some oats!