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Healthier Peppermint Cheesecake

December 22, 2011

For those of you that are still looking for a festive dessert over the holidays that is something a little fancier than cookies, this Healthier Peppermint Cheesecake would make a fabulous addition to your holiday table. Joey and I had friends over last week and the finale to our meal was this cheesecake.

Since I figured everyone this time of year gets enough heavy, calorie-dense meals, I wanted to keep the dessert lighter than traditional cheesecake. When I found this cheesecake recipe in a Holiday Diabetic Recipes magazine I picked up a few weeks back, I knew it would be the perfect dessert. Although no one in the group is diabetic, the recipe was lower in calories and fat than any other recipe I’ve come across.

When it comes to taste and flavor, I could hardly tell that this was a healthier cheesecake. It was slightly less sweet, but I found that pleasant when compared to the typical sugar coma inducing cheesecake of the Cheesecake Factory.

In other news, Joey and I have been having a great time with family and taking a little time off from work. I’ll post an update soon on happenings over the past couple days, but for now I’ll leave you with a this crazy-good recipe.

Festive Peppermint Cheesecake

1 1/4 cups finely crushed low-fat graham crackers
1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal
1/3 cup tub-style vegetable oil spread, melted
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1 (7-ounce) jar marshmallow creme
1 (6-ounce) container plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
3/4 cup refrigerated or frozen egg product, thawed, or 3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen light whipped dessert topping
6 sugar-free peppermints, crushed
1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. For crust, combine graham crackers and flaxseed meal. Stir in melted vegetable oil spread. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 2-inches up sides of an 8-inch springform pan, set aside.
2. For filling, beat cream cheese, marshmallow creme, yogurt, and peppermint extract until smooth. Stir in eggs just until combined.
3. Pour filling into crust-lined pan. Place pan in a shallow baking pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a 2 1/2 inch area around the outside edge appears set when gently shaken.
4. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Using a small sharp knife, loosen the crust from sides of pan; cool for 30 minutes. Remove the side of the pan; cool cheesecake completely on rack. Cover; chill for at least 4 hours before serving.
5. To serve, spread desert topping on top. Top with melted chocolate and crushed peppermints.

Nutrition Facts per serving (makes 12 servings): 258 cal., 12 g total fat, 14 mg chol., 212 mg. sodium, 31 g carb, 1 g fiber, 6 g pro.

Happy Baking!

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars

November 17, 2011

I promise that once Thanksgiving has come and gone, I will return to posting things that aren’t filled with pumpkin. But my love for the stuff is still going strong, and I intend to keep baking with pumpkin until Turkey day arrives.

Last weekend I spent a little time scouring magazines looking for recipes for our family Thanksgiving. I don’t know about you all, but on Thanksgiving I prefer to indulge responsibly. There is nothing I hate more than the “oh my gosh I feel so full I want to die” feeling. It’s really less about calorie consumption and more about how I feel after eating a huge meal and the days following. Also known as Thanksgiving hangover.

When I spotted a recipe for Pumpkin-Almond Cheesecake in Cooking Light’s November issue, I knew I had to give it a try. Instead of making the almond cake that was intended as the bottom layer, I used a crispy graham cracker crust and poured the lightened up cheesecake mixture atop.

I was expecting to be a bit underwhelmed by the dessert when I threw in a block of low-fat cream cheese, Greek yogurt and very little sugar. But to my surprise and delight it was awesome. Smooth, rich-tasting and lightly sweet, Joey and I both ate a piece without feeling stuffed afterward. Things only got better when I calculated the nutrition information for the bars and found that when you make it into 12 servings, each serving only has around 190 calories. Not an ultra low-calorie dessert, but hardly a gut-busting indulgence, either.

Healthier Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars
Recipe slightly adapted from Cooking Light magazine
For Crust:
*1 1/3 cups graham cracker crumbs
*2 tablespoons sugar
*3 tablespoons butter, melted

For Filling:
*8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese
*1/2 cup sugar
*3 large eggs
*1 tsp. vanilla extract
*1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
*1/3 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt
*1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*Preheat oven to 300°F. In a small bowl, combine the crust ingredients until well combined. Press the crust mixture evenly into an 8×8-inch square baking pan. Set aside.
*In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until just combined. Add in the vanilla, pumpkin, Greek yogurt and cinnamon and beat until smooth and incorporated.
*Pour filling mixture into prepared crust pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the cheesecake center barely moves when pan is touched. Cool completely on a wire rack. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for at least 8 hours. Makes 12 servings

Approximate Calories per serving: 190

Happy Baking!