It looks like a cheesecake. It tastes like a cheesecake. But is it a cheesecake? There’s not one shred of cheese in this thing. Nuts! No, really… nuts. The lactose intolerant, the vegans, the raw foodists rejoice. Enter the cashew. I got a taste at Pure Food and Wine in New York. There, cashews became stinky cheese for salads… ricotta-like cheese for ravioli … and best of all, ice cream. We’re talking ice cream you would not have believed wasn’t the real thing. I was impressed. I’d imagine for someone who has sworn off milk products for the rest of their life for whatever reason, discovering the cashew would be on par with winning the lottery.
So what’s the benefit of swapping cream cheese for cashews? Going raw, or following a raw foods diet means eating only living foods (ie. foods that have not been cooked, pasteurized, subjected to heat above 115 degrees). In its raw state, food has 100% of its nutrients and enzymes in tact. But when food is cooked, its nutrient count goes down and the heat kills enzymes. So to get the maximum nutritional benefits of the food, raw foodies say: Eat it raw. Enzymes are what help you digest your food. Without the enzymes in the food, our bodies’ own reserve of enzymes is called in to action to get to work digesting. And that requires energy. But when you only eat raw food, the body can save its enzymes and its energy. Take a carrot for example. Any given carrot has the enzymes in it required to digest itself. So for your body to digest that carrot, the amount of energy required from the body is zero. That means the energy saved can go toward more important things, like making new skin cells to give you that glow.
Before you go turning your oven into a storage cabinet…. I’m not telling you all this to say you should go all raw, all the time. You don’t have to carry a salad in a Ziploc everywhere you go to be healthy. OMG, can you imagine?! But a little raw here and there is a very good thing. Try incorporating more living foods into your meals. Maybe some fruit at breakfast, a salad or an apple with lunch and a pretty green salad before dinner. You’ll get more nutrients and save energy for yourself. Plus, it’s summer. It’s hot. And raw foods help cool you down too. See if you notice a difference with just a little more raw food. And if you’re feeling adventurous, go nuts and make this cake.
My point here is that following a specific diet doesn’t have to leave you feeling deprived. It just might take a little creativity and invention. It IS possible to satisfy a sweet tooth without refined sugar, white flour, eggs, milk or cream cheese. Here’s how….
What you need:
2 cups raw macadamia nuts
1/2 cup dates, pitted
1/4 cup dried coconut, shredded
3 cups chopped cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour
3/4 cup lemon or lime juice
3/4 cup raw honey
3/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 pint strawberries, finely sliced
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
What you do:
Start with the crust. In a food processor, combine the macadamia nuts and dates. Sprinkle dried coconut on to the bottom of a round springform pan. You can also use a regular cake pan and line the bottom with plastic wrap so the cake will lift out when it’s done. Press the crust onto the coconut in the pan. Work in small pieces and flatten the crust evenly with your fingers. The coconut will help keep it from sticking to the bottom.
To make the filing, blend cashews, lemon, honey, coconut oil, vanilla, sea salt and 1/2 cup water. Blend until smooth.
Pour the mixture evenly onto the crust.
Put it in the freezer until it gets firm. Take the cake out of the pan while it’s frozen and transfer to serving plate. Leave it in the refrigerator to defrost until serving.
For the topping, mix finely sliced strawberries with lemon juice, agave nectar and water. Leave topping in the fridge to chill until serving.
Megan Adams Brown, CHC, helps families find healthy routines that work, with no more “what’s for dinner?” stress, and a lot better food. Her family meal plans help moms take charge of their kitchen and their own health, leading to more vegetables and less junk all around. Megan also shares kid-approved, allergy-friendly recipes on her blog. To learn more click here.