Sunday, April 18, 2010

Reality Check

In an effort to get back to healthy(er) eating, I’ve pulled my Living the G.I. Diet book off the shelf and am reacquainting myself with its principles.

Basically low-fat, high protein, low sugar. Seems kind of obvious, I know, but it works better for me if I have rules to follow. I've mentioned this diet before, I think. I found it about five years ago and managed to lose a good 30 pounds. For the most part I've stuck to the rules about whole grains and low fat, but I've slowly let sugar creep back into my life, and it's time to get a grip.

The book lists red-, yellow-, and green-light foods – “red-light foods which you avoid if you want to lose weight; yellow-light listings are foods that are to be used occasionally; and green-light foods – eat as much as you like.”

Meanwhile, I’m still faithfully reading baking blogs, while King Arthur and The Joy of Cooking, among others, taunt me with the delicious high-fat, sugar-laden recipes they post on Facebook every day.

So many recipes to try, but no legitimate reason to try them. It’s been rough!

I found a recipe for Crustless Fruit-Topped Cheesecake in my G.I. book. And lucky me, it was green-lighted. I had everything but low-fat cream cheese, so I picked up some Neufchâtel on the way home from farmers’ market.

One thing I’m having some difficulty with is the use of sugar substitute. It seems to me if the goal is to eat whole, unprocessed foods, why should Sucralose be okay? It shouldn’t. Despite that, I used it this time, in an attempt to keep with my follow-the-recipe-the-first-time rule.

I don’t know why I used the blender, of all things, to puree the cottage cheese.

I added cream cheese, and instead of using flavored yogurt, as called for in the recipe, I mashed some of the huge flat of strawberries I bought at Costco yesterday...

...added a tiny bit of honey...

...and mixed that with nonfat, plain yogurt.

After adding the cream cheese and realizing the blender was NOT the appliance I needed to be using for this task, I added the remaining ingredients – flavored yogurt, cornstarch, “sugar”, egg whites, vanilla, salt – and switched to an immersion blender. Muuuuch better.

The recipe instructed me to use a 9” springform pan, but all I have are 12” pans and various smaller cake pans, so I opted for two small cake pans and fashioned a sort of handle system with parchment paper just in case I couldn’t get them out.

From there they went into a hot water bath and into the oven.

I baked them for 40 minutes, ran a knife along the edge of the pan, then let them sit in the turned-off oven for another 30 minutes before pulling them out to cool.

I have to say, the finished product was pretty damn good. Sure, it's missing a buttery homemade graham cracker crust, but the texture is good, it's sweet enough, and definitely satisfies those nighttime sugar cravings. This is one experiment that won't get shared with the neighbors.

Crustless Fruit-Topped Cheesecake

  • 16 oz. 1% cottage cheese (I used nonfat)
  • 8 oz. light cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. nonfat, fruit-flavored yogurt with sweetener (I added fresh fruit and a tiny bit of honey to plain, nonfat yogurt)
  • ¾ c. sugar substitute
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Fruit Topping

  • 4 c. fresh berries
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Sugar substitute to taste (I used just a couple tablespoons of honey)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325.
  2. Puree the cottage cheese in a food processor until very smooth. Add the cream cheese and puree until smooth and combined. Add the yogurt, sugar substitute, cornstarch, egg whites, vanilla, and salt and puree until smooth.
  3. Pour the batter into a greased and parchment-lined 8- or 9-inch springform pan. Wrap the pan with aluminum foil so that the bottom and sides of the pan are covered. Place in a large roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with hot water to come halfway up the side of the springform pan.
  4. Bake until the center is still slightly jiggly when the pan is tapped, about 40 minutes. Turn the oven off and run a small knife around the edge of the pan. Let the cake stand in the cooling oven for about 3 minutes more. Ro a rack and let cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about two hours.
  5. Make the fruit topping: In a large bowl, combine the berries, lemon juice, and sugar substitute. Cut the cheesecake into wedges and serve with the fruit topping.

Variations: For a vanilla cheesecake, use plain or vanilla yogurt and add up to 3 tablespoons of vanilla; for espresso cheesecake, use plain yogurt plus 1 tablespoon espresso powder and 1 tablespoon vanilla.

Keep the cheesecake covered and refrigerated for up to three days.


  1. Nice. I think I'll try it with agave. Maybe that would work in this recipe.

  2. I'm on the fence about agave. I recently found this article (among others)... I think next time I'll just use honey, maybe cut back to 1/2 c. or so.

  3. Juline, have you thought about Stevia? Some think it leaves a bitter after taste, but I find it a very pleasant "natural" sugar substitute! I use it in my coffee every day......I love it