Delicious and Nutritious: 6 Different Healthy Takes on Cheesecake

When you imagine cheesecake, what do you think of? A graham cracker crust topped with a decadent mix of cheese, eggs, and sugar, or the inevitable food guilt you feel as you nurse a cheesecake coma following one rich slice? Food guilt is a nuisance that no one should have to face, but just in case you want to eat your cheesecake and not upset your stomach, consider trying one of these 6 alternatives to cheesecake that are currently popular around the web.

There’s nothing quite like a thick slice of your favorite dessert from your neighborhood bakery, but there are ways to get your cheesecake fix without breaking your budget or your belt, and we’re highlighting 6 of those recipes today. There’s a time and a place for everything, and while there’s certainly a time for a big piece of rich, authentic cheesecake, there are also weekdays and other occasions that call for a less decadent dessert or snack. Try one of these alternatives, then.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

1. Two-Bite Mini Cheesecakes

Instead of having a whole piece of cheesecake, you can easily cut your dessert calories in half by indulging in one of these two-bite mini cheesecakes from Pbs.org. Many cheesecake slices are cut so thick that you’re in a full-blown sugar coma by the time you put the fork down, but with these bites, you don’t even need a fork, and your stomach won’t even hate you after, either.

The overall food prep for these mini desserts is the same, but instead of pouring your cheesecake mixture in a pie pan, you’re simply divvying it up into mini tins. You can make and bake your cheesecakes all in 80 minutes, and then it’s time for your perfect fun-sized dessert.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 eight ounce block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons fruit spread or jam
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest

Directions: Preheat the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix the graham cracker crumbs and butter together until evenly mixed. The mixture will not appear wet but when pressed together between the fingers should stick together. Line a mini cupcake tin with 12 paper liners.

Scoop one level teaspoon of crumb mixture into each lined tin cup. Using your fingers or the flat side of a clean bottled water cap, firmly press down the crust mixture into a flat hard layer. Place the tin in the oven and bake for 5 minutes.

While the crust is baking, combine the cream cheese and sugar in a mixer or a bowl. Make sure the cream cheese is soft, otherwise your cheesecakes will have lumps. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream the cream cheese and sugar together for one minute. Add the egg, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. The mixture should be smooth and the texture should be like cake batter. After the crust has baked for 5 minutes, remove the tin from the oven and evenly fill the cups with the cheesecake batter. Bake the cheesecakes for 16-18 minutes until the center is slightly firm to touch and not jiggly. Do not worry if the tops appear to have a dome shape or are cracked.

Remove the cheesecake from the oven allow the tin to rest on a heat safe countertop for 10 minutes. Carefully remove the mini cheesecakes from the tin and transfer them to a plate. Place the plate in the freezer for 30 minutes until they are no longer warm and slightly cool. Carefully remove the paper liners from each mini baked cheesecake. Top each cheesecake off with a 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite fruit spread or jam followed by a small pinch of lemon zest as garnish.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

2. Greek Yogurt Cheesecake

Your next alternative is to prepare your cheesecake as you normally do in your springform pan; however, instead of going heavy-handed on the butter, sour cream, and cream cheese, instead swap in some greek yogurt to do the dirty work. Jenna from Eat Live Run provides us with a recipe for a guilt-free cheesecake that enlists greek yogurt to facilitate silky dessert goodness, and surprisingly enough, her food formula doesn’t call for any cream cheese or sour cream at all. Yogurt, sugar, eggs, and vanilla bean instead do the trick. We know cheesecake sans cream cheese seems blasphemous, but try it for yourself – we believe you won’t miss the key ingredient. There is a way to eat cheesecake without having to unbuckle your skinny jeans, and Jenna knows the secret.

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Cheesecake

  • 2 cups whole milk or 2 percent Greek yogurt (not non-fat)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean (seeds scraped out) or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

Topping

  • 1-2 peaches, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions: Make the crust first. Spray a 10-inch springform pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Cut in the butter and blend in with your fingers until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add egg yolk and cold water. Mix until dough comes together to form a shaggy ball (dough may be dry). Cover in plastic wrap and let chill for half an hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Roll out dough to the same diameter as the pan. You can do this easily by rolling out and placing the bottom of the springform pan on top and gently cutting around the pan with a dull knife. Place dough circle at the bottom of the pan. Place tin foil on top of the dough circle and cover with dried beans or rice to weigh down. Bake for 15 minutes then take off rice/bean/tin foil and prick all over crust with a fork. Return to oven and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a blender or food processor, combine the eggs, sugar, yogurt and vanilla. Blend until smooth then add cornstarch and pinch of salt and blend again. Pour filling into hot crust, lower oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 35 minutes.

When the cheesecake is done, it will still be jiggly in the center but will have a “done” look to it. The edges of the cake will start to pull away from the sides of the pan. Make sure you don’t overbake. Let cool, then chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge before releasing springform. Arrange the sliced peaches over top of the cooled cheesecake. Melt the honey in a small saucepot then drizzle on as well.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

3. Easy Blueberry Cheesecake Bites

Here’s another way to have your cheesecake and eat it, too: make these healthy snacks that incorporate all the key ingredients of your favorite dessert but only a quarter of the calories. Enter Easy Blueberry Cheesecake Bites from Gimme Some OvenThese take 4 ingredients to make and 0 minutes to bake. They’re almost too easy, and they’re cute, too. So next time the cheesecake craving strikes, grab your graham crackers, cheese, blueberries, and honey, and don’t worry about having to ditch your little black dress. These bites are delicious, decadent, and nutritious.

Ingredients:

  • 12 individual graham cracker pieces (or 3 large graham crackers)
  • 4 wedges of the Laughing Cow Creamy Original Swiss (or Creamy Light Swiss)
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) honey or agave nectar

Directions: Spread about 1/3 of a cheese wedge atop an individual graham cracker. Top with a few fresh blueberries, then drizzle with a teaspoon of honey. Enjoy immediately.

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

4. No-Bake Cheesecake Bites

This next recipe not only saves you from a food coma, but also saves you from having to turn on your oven in the summer. These No-Bake Cheesecake Bites from Greatist are the perfect way to quench your cheesecake craving without overdoing it on the sweets. Thanks to this snack’s graham cracker base that’s topped with a cream cheese mixture and studded with berries, you won’t even miss the rich decadence of real cheesecake when these bites go into your belly. You can’t have cheesecake for dessert every day, but there’s no reason you can’t always have these for snacks.

Ingredients:

  • 1 8-ounce package reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons half & half
  • 12 full-size graham crackers
  • Fresh berries, for garnish (optional)

Directions: In a large bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lime juice, vanilla, and half & half. Use an electric mixer to beat the ingredients until smooth. Chill the cheesecake mixture for 1 hour. Meanwhile, use a 2-inch round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter to cut the cheesecake bases from the graham crackers. You should get 2 bases from each graham cracker. Transfer the cream cheese mixture to a pastry bag fitted with your favorite tip. Pipe 1-2 tablespoons of the cream cheese mixture onto each graham cracker round. Top each round with a fresh berry. Serve immediately.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

5. Cheesecake Dip

Here’s another way you can feel like you’re splurging on cheesecake but still not over-indulge. Make this No-Bake Cheesecake Dip from Oh Sweet Basil and grab your graham crackers or pretzels for dipping. This dish makes the perfect appetizer or sweet snack, and then you can leave room for dinner or dessert. It turns out there’s more ways than one to get your cheesecake fix.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) container regular cream cheese spread (not the 8 ounce brick, but the tub)
  • 1 (7 ounce) container marshmallow cream
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam
  • 1/3 cup raspberries for garnish
  • Mini pretzel crisps for dipping

Directions: In a large bowl with a handheld mixer, combine the cream cheese and marshmallow cream. Set aside. Place the jam in a mesh strainer with a bowl underneath. With a rubber spatula, press the jam through the strainer. Reserve the raspberry mixture and bring over the bowl with the cheesecake mix. Place the cheesecake dip in a serving bowl with just a scoop at a time. Add a little berry sauce, more dip, more berry sauce, etc. until you finish it off. Using a small spoon, swirl the mixture together and serve with salty, mini pretzel crisps.

Source: iStock

Source: iStock

6. Healthy Cheesecake Smoothie

Last but not least, instead of eating your cheesecake, why not drink it — and even keep it healthy? If you don’t think a recipe for healthy liquid cheesecake exists, check out this formula for Healthy Cheesecake Smoothies from Imma Eat That and think again. Bananas, greek yogurt, and almond butter are the key ingredients in making your cheesecake smoothie dreams come true, and we promise that drink will facilitate a perfect (healthy) cool-down — perfect for the end of summer.

Ingredients:

Cookie Topping

  • 3 tablespoon oat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cheesecake Crust Bottom

  • 1/3 cup oat flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3-4 tablespoons bananas, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

Cheesecake Smoothie Layer

  • 1 1/2 large bananas, frozen
  • 1 cup Kefir, plain (or milk of choice)
  • 1/3 cup vanilla greek yogurt

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small bowl, combine oat flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add in coconut oil, honey, and vanilla extract. Stir until a dough is formed. Roll dough into two balls. Flatten into really thin cookies and place on non-stick baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until dark golden brown and crunchy. Allow to cool on a cooling rack while you prepare remaining ingredients.

In a bowl, mix together oat flour, cinnamon, and salt. Add in mashed banana, almond butter, and vanilla extract. Stir until a dough is formed. Divide into two balls and press into the bottom of two clear cups/jars. Place in the freezer while you prepare your smoothie layer.

Blend together frozen bananas, Kefir, and vanilla greek yogurt. Remove cups/jars that have the cheesecake crust bottoms from the freezer. Pour in cheesecake smoothie layer. Top with crushed cookies.

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