Wednesday 18 July 2012

Paleo-ish No-bake Mixed Berry "Cheese"cake

Just the other night I discovered that my husband’s favourite dessert is (or was) cheesecake! It has only taken me 6 years to discover this (bad wife, I know)! The finding came about after he was speaking with a client who was expressing her difficulty in following the “paleo” diet. He decided to ask her what the worst thing she has recently eaten was. The answer? Cheesecake!! 

So naturally, there was only one thing for me to do…..make a paleo-style cheesecake that was in line with our nutritional philosophy (free of grains, dairy and processed junk; made with whole foods and a touch of love) and at the same time incredibly delicious. After searching, tweaking and creating I can happily say I created a dessert that ticked all the boxes. This little baby was approved not only by my husband (who was not too happy about having to share it), but also my fellow personal trainers and all of our clients that we trained the following morning at Primal Fitness! Not only that, but it was up against some pretty tough competition as Lachy, our Primal Fitness Masterchef, had also whipped up an insanely delicious pecan pie (also Primal-approved). Yes, it was (and has been for the past few weeks) a Primal Fitness bake-off. 

Another layer of challenge was added on with the 3rd member of the bake-off team, Tracey-Anne, following a FODMAPs diet at the moment to help with some digestive issues she has experienced throughout her life. If you currently suffer from digestive problems (i.e. irritable bowel syndrome), and a general paleo-ish diet hasn’t helped, perhaps FODMAPs would be worth a shot!

Anywho – this whole FODMAPs business limited what could be added to the baked goods. 
While not 100% FODMAPs, the cheesecake is mostly there and could be tweaked to get it over the line if necessary. 

I also decided to make quite an occasion of it and made my husband’s favourite dinner – Slow Cooked Beef Ribs (amazing recipe from Civilised Caveman), serving the broth as an entrée (kind of like a consommé – fancy, right?) and dishing up some mashed sweet potato and roasted cauliflower to accompany the main. Yes, I was definitely in the good-books that night!

OK, enough blabbering on. Here it is:

Paleo-ish No-bake Mixed Berry “Cheese”cake

Grain-free crust:

  • 1 ½ cups raw macadamias
  • ½ cup medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup shredded dried coconut

Dairy-free filling:

  • 3 cups cashews, soaked for 1-2hrs
  • ¾ cup fresh lemon juice (around 3 juicy lemons – buy extra just in case)
  • ¾ cup organic maple syrup (the real stuff, not the imitation kind – yes, the real stuff is expensive)
  • ¾ cup extra virgin coconut oil, melted
  • ½ - 1tsp vanilla bean powder (add a small amount and taste test before adding more; can use 1tbp pure vanilla extract instead if desired)

Fruit topping:

  • 1 cup each frozen blueberries and raspberries, allow to thaw slightly
  • ½ cup medjool dates, pitted and chopped roughly


  • Blend nuts and dates in a food processor until well-processed. 
  • Sprinkle coconut on base of cheesecake pan (or whatever you are going to “cook” it in) – this will prevent the mix from sticking to the base and will also add texture and flavour
  • Press the nut/date mixture down into the pan to form a crust


  • Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Spoon mixture evenly over the crust. Place in freezer for around 1hr


  • Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth. Take cake out of freezer and spoon berry mixture evenly over the top. Return to freezer.
  • This can be kept in the freezer until around an hour before you would like to eat it. It’s also nice frozen – whatever floats your boat! 

Now remember, while this is a much healthier version of a traditional cheesecake, and also a great option for us special snowflakes who can’t handle (or just choose to avoid) dairy and/or gluten, it is still a dessert and should be treated as such, enjoyed on special occasions only. It is not a breakfast alternative, although to be completely honest it is probably more nutritious than 99% of the breakfast cereals available, so if you are currently eating some form of packaged, sugar-coated cardboard for breakfast and want to improve your diet, then sure – go ahead and have this cheesecake for brekkie! But for all of you who have your diet pretty dialled in, here are just a few reasons to keep this as a special treat:

  • It is jam-packed full of nuts which, while nutritious in small doses, in large quantities they can cause problems with digestion due to a high amount of phytic acid/phytates. For more on nuts and phytates, check out my post here
  • Maple syrup, while also beneficial in small doses (only if it is the real deal), is still essentially glucose, which causes spikes in insulin (though not as much as sugar, agave or high-fructose corn syrup) and can disturb overall health and wellness.
  • It jam-packed full of nuts and organic maple syrup… it is one VERY expensive (yet insanely delicious) cheesecake!!

Why have I called it “paleo-ish” and not simply “paleo”?? Well the paleo lifestyle is based on how our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived and ate and I just haven’t come across any evidence that shows paleo-man whipping up a storm in his high speed food processor. Go figure! I’m also pretty sure that they would never have bothered to shell 1.5 cups of macadamias just to blend them up, given that they come like this in nature and would be hard as hell to crack open:

But, here we are in the modern world, with pre-shelled nuts and very handy kitchen tools, so let’s just enjoy the goods in moderation….and preferably in good company!

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