Lightly Sweetened Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Healthy Cheesecake Made with Greek Yogurt

One of my recent work projects has involved gathering healthy dessert recipes, so I’ve been immersed in a world of cookbooks that feature fruits, nuts, and whole grains in any manner of clever combinations. (Tough job, but somebody has to do it ;)) While combing through these creations, I was inspired to get a little more creative with dessert than my ritual dark chocolate squares, and try my hand at a healthy, protein-packed cheesecake.

Healthy Cheesecake Made with Greek Yogurt!

Greek yogurt cheesecake might seem like a contemporary twist, but this dessert is actually adapted from a recipe that is over 40 years old. Indeed, one of my heroes (and former employers), Frances Moore Lappé, published her recipe for “The Thinking Person’s Cheesecake” in her seminal 1971 classic, Diet for a Small Planet (albeit, with regular yogurt, not Greek). My version stays pretty true to the original, resulting in a treat that’s both delectable and refreshing.

A stark contrast to the rich, cumbrous cheesecakes served at chain restaurants across the nation, the texture of this confection is airy and light (a good indicator of how you’re going to feel afterwards). But do be warned… when I say “lightly sweetened,” I mean it! Unlike the granola-laced crust, the sweetening in the actual cheesecake is very subtle (teetering towards undetectable), letting the fresh fruit topping shine against the creamy, tangy backdrop. That being said, for those looking to loosen their dependency on added sugars, I highly recommend that you give the recipe a try as written. Organic blueberries were on sale when I made this, but any fruit will do. And don’t hesitate to load it on – the fruit contributes a welcome, sugary zing.

Healthy Cheesecake Made with Greek Yogurt

Lightly Sweetened Greek Yogurt Cheesecake (adapted from Frances Moore Lappé, Diet for a Small Planet)

Serves 8

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cup granola (I look for granola with less than 10g sugar per 50-56g serving)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3-4 tablespoons water

Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta (about 13 oz)
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat organic)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 6 oz blueberries (1 small carton, about 1 1/4 cups)

 Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Add granola, walnuts, and ginger to food processor, and pulse into crumbs. Then add the water, and continue pulsing, until ingredients are combined.
  3. Evenly press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan to form a crust, and bake for 10 minutes.
  4. While crust is pre-baking, prepare the filling. Add all filling ingredients except blueberries to a large bowl, and mix until combined.
  5. When crust is done pre-baking, remove from oven and evenly pour the filling into the crust.
  6. Put the cheesecake in the oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes, until center is firm.
  7. Immediately after removing the cheesecake from the oven, top the cheesecake with blueberries, pressing them gently onto the top of the cake.
  8. Let cake chill in refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight) before serving. (Store covered in refrigerator.)

Healthy Cheesecake Made with Greek Yogurt

Nutrition per serving: 310 calories, 16g fat (4g saturated fat), 26g carbohydrates (3g fiber, 15g sugar*), 15g protein, 16g cholesterol, 80mg sodium, 9% Iron, 19% Calcium, 4% Vitamin A, 11% Vitamin C

*About 10g added sugars (from honey and granola)

A note on nutrition: I based the nutrition data on 8 standard-sized slices, because I know very few people that would only eat 1/12 of a cheesecake this size. For fewer calories, feel free to serve the cheesecake in smaller portions. For example, if the pie was cut into 10 slices, (instead of 8), each slice would have about 240 calories. If cut into 12 slices, each slice would only have about 200 calories.

– Kelly

Finally… a healthier granola!

Healthy Granola

The word “granola” has become synonymous with a health conscious lifestyle, and is often used to describe individuals that have an aversion to processed foods and a soft spot for REI.

Despite the healthful moniker, this popular snack is often riddled with as much added sugar as children’s breakfast cereal, and the oils used to roast the oats can multiply calories quickly. So much for being a health food. Sure, granola is a satisfying source of fiber and whole grains. But the dessert-high levels of sugar have kept granola from being a pantry staple at my house. Until now.

Healthy Granola

Yes, I could make my own recipe. But a friend recently introduced me to the “Wheat Free Classic Granola” in the bulk bins at Whole Foods Market, and well, why fix what’s not broken?

While the calorie and fiber count of this granola is comparable to other brands, what stands out is the low level of added sugar: Only 4g per half cup (55g) serving! Compare that to 14g per 55g serving of Cascadian Farms Oats and Honey Granola, one of my favorite guilty pleasures.

Healthy Granola

Unlike most granolas, where honey plays a starring role, this granola has sunflower seeds, cashews, sesame seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds, giving this traditionally sweet treat a surprisingly savory twist. I like to dress mine up with raspberries and organic nonfat milk (above), or bananas, figs, and plain organic nonfat Greek yogurt (below).

Healthy Granola

Do you have a favorite granola or granola recipe? Share in the comments!

– Kelly