How to make the best lighter cheesecake

Published on December 19 2011 - 6:02 PM
How to make the best lighter cheesecake

I love everything about cheesecake—the sweet taste with just a hint of saltiness, the creamy texture and the sweet graham cracker crust. What’s not to love? Well, I can think of one thing: how I feel after I’ve eaten only a small slice. That would be guilt mixed with the sensation that I just swallowed a brick. Cheesecake may have the reputation of being tasty, but being healthy has never been one of its virtues.
Recipes to Try: 10 Light and Healthy Cheesecake Recipes

As an associate food editor at EatingWell Magazine and a recipe developer in our test kitchen I’m always looking for a way to have my cake and eat it too. And I think I’ve found it with EatingWell’s Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Walnut Crust, developed by Katie Webster. How does it stack up nutritionally? It’s got 307 calories and only 5 grams of saturated fat. Compare that to a slice of pumpkin cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory, which has 740 calories and 31 grams of saturated fat. Here are a few tricks that make this delicious cheesecake lighter:

Add Healthy Ingredients—Plain cheesecake is good, but why stop there? Flavors are tasty, too, and open up the opportunity to add healthy ingredients like fruit and vegetables (in this case an entire can of pumpkin puree). Pumpkin is a rich source of beta carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, reproduction, immune function, hormone synthesis and regulation and vision.
Related: Which Is Healthier: Apple Pie or Pumpkin Pie?

Add Healthy Fats—Fat equals flavor, but not all fats are created equal. We use the crust to slip in some healthy fats while cutting back on unhealthy fats like saturated fat and partially hydrogenated oils. We grind walnuts into the crust. Walnuts are the only nuts that offer a significant amount of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA’s anti-inflammatory properties halt plaque buildup in the arteries. Also in the crust we use gingersnaps that don’t contain any hydrogenated oils. Look for these in the natural-foods section of your supermarket.

Use Low-Fat Dairy—In traditional cheesecake, it’s bring on the cream cheese! But in ours, we use Neufchatel–a cream cheese that has 1/3 less fat. And our sneakiest trick? We add pureed non–fat cottage cheese. The pureeing adds smooth, creamy texture without adding tons of saturated fat.

Don’t Miss: 5 Secrets for Baking Healthier Holiday Cookies
How to Make Healthy Winter Fruit Bars
Stunning Holiday Dessert Recipes

Try the Recipe: Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Walnut Crust

EatingWell Associate Food Editor Hilary Meyer spends much of her time in the EatingWell Test Kitchen, testing and developing healthy recipes. She is a graduate of New England Culinary Institute.