Whenever I visit my parents, my sisters and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, experimenting with various “healthy” dessert recipes; gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, etc. When it comes to making nutritious desserts, raw nut-based ones are fail-proof options. Treats like mocha brownie bars, chocolate peanut butter cookies, and vegan peanut butter pie are just a few that have been approved by even the most traditionalist dessert eaters.
I’ve always enjoyed raw desserts, but am usually a bit turned off by the amount of nuts the recipes call for. While the nut-based approach works well for brownies, cookies, or crusts, raw cakes are usually a bit too dense for me. When I came across this recipe for lemon meltaway pie that adds cauliflower (!) to the cashew cake base, I knew I had to test it out. My sisters and I were skeptical at first, but as soon as we tried it, we were sold. The cauliflower transforms the density of the nuts to a make a light and airy filling.
This vegan strawberry “cheesecake” is the perfect summer dessert. Served cold, it tastes really similar to those delicious (but not so good for you) Good Humor strawberry shortcake bars. Other berries would be great in this too – feel free to use them in lieu of the strawberries. For a plain cheesecake, just omit the berries altogether.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY// Vegan strawberry cheesecake is vegan, gluten free and dairy free. Made with real, whole ingredients, it is a healthier dessert cheesecake without sacrificing taste. Cauliflower is relatively low in carbohydrates and high in glucosinolates, compounds containing sulfer, that may help lower the risk of cancer. Cauliflower is also high in Vitamin C, which your body needs to produce collagen (think healthy skin, teeth and bones). Cauliflower also adds vitamin K to your diet, an essential vitamin. Cashews are full of healthy fats particularly oleic acid, the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Cashews are also great for hair, skin and bone health due to their copper and magnesium content. Strawberries are full of fiber, vitamin C and folate, which aids in DNA formation. //
- 1 cup oats
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil
- 6 dates
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups raw unsalted cashews, soaked overnight or at least 8 hours
- 4 cups grated cauliflower
- ⅔ cups virgin coconut oil
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 cup hulled strawberries, plus more to garnish
- Add all ingredients to a food processor and process until the mixture begins to stick together.
- Line the bottom of a spring form pan with parchment paper and grease the sides with a little coconut oil.
- Press the crust mixture into the bottom of the pan and then up the sides to desired height.
- Put the grated cauliflower in a microwavable bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high 4-6 minutes until the cauliflower is tender. Remove from the microwave and, when cool enough to handle, drain any excess liquid from the cauliflower. I placed the cauliflower in a strainer and pushed down with the back of a spoon to press out any liquid.
- In a food processor or high speed blender, add all ingredients except the strawberries and blend until extremely smooth. This may take a bit of time.
- When completely smooth, remove a little more than half of the mixture and set aside. Add the strawberries to the remaining mixture and blend until smooth again.
- Pour the strawberry mixture into the prepared pie crust and spread evenly. On top of the strawberry layer, pour the remaining cashew cauliflower mixture and carefully spread evenly being careful not to mix the two layers.
- Put the entire pie in the freezer and freeze until set, at least 4 hours. If completely frozen, allow to thaw for 30 minutes or more before serving. The pie can be stored in the freezer or the fridge. If stored in the freezer, allow to thaw a bit before serving. Top with sliced strawberries at time of serving.