Read our blog to get simple, plant-based, and wholesome diet for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike. Also find delicious, healthy recipe ideas as well as more information on nutrition related topics. Author Alison Tierney is a Registered Dietitian.
What is considered the healthiest food on the planet?
Dark-leafy green vegetables.
One of the best things you can do increase your lifespan (a high-quality lifespan, might I add) is to eat dark leafy greens every day. (1) This is because dark-leafy greens are associated with the strongest protection against chronic disease (2), and even more so against heart attack (3) and stroke (4).
What about breast cancer and green vegetables? Researchers looked at 50,000 African American women and found that those who consumed two or more servings of vegetables per day had significantly reduced risk of ER-/PR- breast cancer. (5) ER-/PR- (estrogen and progesterone receptor negative) breast cancer is considered one of the hardest to treat.
And which vegetable topped the chart for breast cancer protection? Collard greens.
Which foods are included in “dark-leafy greens”? Just to name a few . . .
Kale (all varieties)
To some, incorporating dark-leafy greens regularly is pretty easy. To many, regular consumption is difficult. I would go ahead and bet the most difficult part is trying to find different ways to include dark-leafy greens rather than a distaste for them.
And in the words of a colleague of mine, Betty Halloway, ask yourself “Can I add greens to that?”
I love Betty’s motto -- and her recipes -- so it only seems appropriate to share one of my favorite recipes from Betty.
If you’ve been looking for a more filling salad to compliment a meal, a salad option for a lighter dinner, or a perfect dish to pass this summer, this salad is just what you’ve been looking for!
Are you ready to commit to increasing your dark-leafy green consumption? If you can, aim for 2 servings (1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked) each day.
Bring three cups salted water or broth to a boil. Add one cup dry barley; reduce to simmer, cover and cook for 60 minutes. Drain & cool.
In a small bowl, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, agave/honey, and salt & pepper (to taste). Mix well.
Pour half of the dressing over the warm barley and let it stand while the rest of barley cools and you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Prepare the onion and fruit. Add the onion, dried fruit, almonds, and apple to the grain mixture. Mix in greens when you are ready to serve. When ready to serve, drizzle the remaining dressing, if desired.
*To save time, you may also use 10-Minute or Instant Barley. You can find something like this at Trader Joe’s.
** We prefer high-quality oils and vinegar from specialty oilery stores, i.e. Oliva Di Vita, Oro Di Oliva, etc.
***To take away the bite of red onion, soak the diced red onion in ice water for 10-15 minutes. Stir 1-2x.
1 cup pearled barley, dry (or, 3 cups cooked)*
3 cups salted water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (high-quality**)
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (high-quality**)
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon agave or honey
Salt and black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup slivered almonds
¼ small red onion, finely diced***
½ cup dried craisins or dried cherries
1 cup raspberries, blueberries, sliced strawberries
Have you noticed more of your friends and family actively eating a diet centered around plants? Have you noticed more vegetarian options when eating out? We sure have.
In fact, about 39% of Americans are actively trying to center their diet around more plants, according to a report by Food Navigator USA.
A plant-based diet can mean eating a 100% plant-based, or simply focusing on incorporating more plants while consuming some animal-based products. Here at Wholesome, we don’t care what category you fall into as we’ll always encourage you to...
Eat more plants.
Since we both made the journey from an omnivorous diet to a plant-based diet, we know it isn’t necessarily an easy journey. And it comes easier for some.
If you are seeking to fully transition to a 100% plant-based diet, or just center your diet around whole, plant-based foods here are some tips to start the transition.
1. Add Before You Subtract
It can be overwhelming to think about limiting or eliminating animal products. Many of us grew up eating meat, fish, dairy, etc. every day (just like we did). Stepping away from animal products cold-turkey is daunting.
Recall the plant-based diet is focused on whole, plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. It also recommends avoiding highly processed foods. So, before you remove animal products simply consider adding whole, plant-based foods because they contain phytochemicals --cancer and disease fighting properties.
When you focus on what you can add, rather then what you “can’t have”, it will greatly improve your mindset.
Pro Tip: When you sit down for meals, take a look. Do you have a fruit and vegetable with each meal? Or, do you have two servings of vegetables? This simple focus can help improve your meals without too much thought.
2. Keep it Simple
Many individuals contemplating the plant-based diet are often worried they will be spending hours in the kitchen to creating nutritious and satisfying meals. The truth is, you don’t have to spend hours, sometimes only a few minutes is needed.
We find the best meals are simple and don’t require a recipe. Use your cooking experience, even if limited, to play with ingredients you have on hand. Use different cooking methods and flavorings and throw it all together. Viola!
Pro Tip: Our favorite way of making a nutritionally complete, easy meal includes the following 3 staples:
Whole Grain or Starchy Vegetable
For example, roast sweet potatoes. Roast canned (and rinsed) chickpeas in approximately 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup. Roast a variety of your favorite veggies. Mix all together and add a side serving of fruit. Yum!
3. Slow & Steady
Many clients often get upset with themselves when they eat processed food, an animal product, or a treat and feel as though they have failed. This isn’t true at all!
When babies learn to walk, it is a slow steady progression. When you learn to throw a baseball for the first time, you likely don’t have the perfect form right away. In fact, when you learn any new skill, there is a learning curve. This process is no different. Practice is essential, and perfecting improving the skill takes time.
Pro Tip: Consider your current diet. Do you include dairy 3x per day? Do you eat meat every day of the week? Consider making small changes and alter the goal as you progress. Aim to eat dairy only 2x per day or meat 5x per week. Small changes lead to big strides.
4. Find a Few Favorites
Many of us have a few favorite foods that are likely whole, plant-based foods. Do you like potatoes? Deliciously summer ripened berries? Grilled vegetables? What about a comforting chili?
It’s likely some of your favorite foods already fit into your new lifestyle -- they just might need a little tweaking. Start with these before necessarily trying new foods. There is no reason to mess too much with a perfectly good classic.
Grace is defined as “courteous goodwill”. Often times, we forget to provide ourselves with this goodwill.
If your best friend was embarking on a new experience, how would you encourage him or her? Do you do the same for yourself? For many of us, the answer is no.
When focused on improving your diet and lifestyle, give yourself the gift of grace. Know there will be times when you don’t get it exactly right. Learn from those times and consider how you could have made the situation better.
And when you do get it ‘right’, celebrate the small victories. Because life is too short to not celebrate the little things.
There is a lot of hype around juicing, especially in the cancer world.
If you want my quick answer to this question, I can tell you:
I don’t have a juicer.
I don’t have a juicer for several reasons, including the fact that they’re expensive, can take up a lot of room, and I always wonder what individuals do with all of the leftover pulp/fiber after juicing. It seems like a lot of waste, and not to mention a lot of unused nutrients!
It likely comes as no surprise that the consumption of whole fruits is better than drinking fruit juice. But contrary to popular belief, the consumption of whole fruit is associated with significantly lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Whereas, fruit juice consumption is associated with higher risk. (1)
What is the big difference? Fiber.
We used to think the role of fiber was simply to bulk the stools for healthy bowel movements. And while that still holds true, we know now it isn’t fiber’s only role. And in fact, likely not even it’s most important role.
Fiber is the fuel source for gut bacteria. That may sound like a bad thing, but it isn’t at all.
When we eat fiber, we provide the good bacteria fuel, and in return, the gut bacteria creates short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Why do we care?
Not to mention several other benefits of SCFAs, such as improving bone health (2) and preventing the growth of bad bacteria.
Let little ones help make smoothies!
When we juice, we don’t just lose fiber, we lose much more. We lose phytochemicals -- cancer and other disease fighting properties. This is because phytochemicals are often attached to fiber.
Consuming smoothies instead of juice allows us to take advantage of the fiber found in whole, plant-based foods. In fact, by chewing food we are able to break down some of the cell structure of the plant leading to increased absorption of phytochemicals. But when we blend our fruits and veggies, the high-speed blade breaks down the cell structures more than our teeth can which maximizes our ability to absorb all of it’s great disease fighting nutrients. (4)
Now, keep in mind all smoothies are not created equal. Many can be loaded with added sugars, juice, and other products not found to protect against disease.
There are thousands (millions? billions?) of smoothie recipes available in the world. And truth be told, you don’t even need a recipe. All you really need is frozen fruit and a liquid. But here are a few of my favorite things to add:
Non-dairy, unsweetened milk
Old fashioned oats
But for today, I wanted to share with you my favorite smoothie lately. It’s just sweet enough, rather creamy (hello oat milk!), and hits the spot.
In the end, if you are looking for a great way to add beneficial gut properties (fiber!) all while maximizing disease fighting nutrients, smoothies beat out juicing. Plus, it’s a tasty way to consume nutrients for even the pickiest of eaters!
What is your favorite type of smoothie or smoothie addition?
Let us know in the comments below!
Berry Oat Smoothie
Makes: ~3, 16 ounce smoothies
Add all ingredients to a blender. Blend. Add more or less milk, depending on your desired consistency.
(1) Muraki, I. (2013). Fruit consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: Results from three prospective longitudinal cohort studies. BMJ, 347. doi:10.1136/bmj.f6935
(2) Abrams, S. A., Griffin, I. J., Hawthorne, K. M., Liang, L., Gunn, S. K., Darlington, G., & Ellis, K. J. (2005). A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 82(2), 471-476. doi:10.1093/ajcn.82.2.471
(3) Arranz, S., Silván, J. M., & Saura-Calixto, F. (2010). Nonextractable polyphenols, usually ignored, are the major part of dietary polyphenols: A study on the Spanish diet. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 54(11), 1646-1658. doi:10.1002/mnfr.200900580
(4) L Lemens, S Van Buggenhout, AM Van Loey, ME Hendrickx. Particle size reduction leading to cell wall rupture is more important for the β-carotene bioaccessibility of raw compared to thermally processed carrots. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Dec 22;58(24):12769-76.
I remember the first time I ever had it. I was in the Florida Keys on a family trip. My sister Jackie bought Stacey’s Pita Chips and Sabra Original Hummus.
I told you I remember!
For a while, I only ate hummus with pita chips (it’s all I knew). But now, pretzels, pita, roti, wraps, raw veggies, bean burgers--you name it! It adds a creamy flavor that is rare to find in a plant-based meal.
However, traditional hummus contains added oil.
If you have read our ‘Reducing Added Oils’ blog, you know Alison and I strive (we are far from perfect) to consume a diet low in added oils. Yes, even olive oil. Living a whole food plant-based lifestyle (#wfpb) involves avoiding processed foods. Oils are processed foods since the oil is extracted from the whole olive, coconut, etc.
Even though olive oil is thought to be “heart healthy”, it may impair your arteries’ ability to relax and dilate normally. (1)
Let me explain.
Our blood vessels are lined with endothelial cells. These cells are the barrier between our blood and our body's tissues. Almost all tissues depend on blood supply and the blood supply depends on endothelial cells. (2) As you can tell, endothelial cells are pretty important.
They are involved in blood clotting, the formation of new blood vessels, and recruitment of immune defense cells. All oils, both animal and plant derived, tend to worsen endothelial function. Within hours of consuming fat, our arteries stiffen and the ability to dilate is impaired. (3) If our arteries have a reduced ability to dilate, it decreases blood flow and can result in high blood pressure.
Therefore, impaired endothelial function is an indication of the early development of cardiovascular disease (atherosclerosis) and seen in patients with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, and type 2 diabetes. (3)
Personally, I find it extremely difficult to avoid all added oil, especially when going out to eat. If I can eliminate oil in my household, then I know I don’t have to be obsessive when I go out to eat.
Since hummus is a weakness of mine, I am excited about this easy, oil-free, preservative-free option!
Now, a few notes about the recipe. Before you start, you should decide if a smooth texture is a must for you. If so, it’s best to remove the peel of the chickpeas.
I have found two methods that work well to remove the peels:
Remove by hand, straight out of the can.
Bring a small pot of water to boil and add 1 teaspoon of baking soda. This will help loosen up the peel.
I know both of these options are a little time consuming, but worth the smooth texture!
I used technique #2 to make it a little easier.
If you don’t feel like you need the wonderfully smooth hummus, you can skip this step.
Since we aren’t using oil, we need something to make it creamy. I achieved this with whipped aquafaba.
Aquafaba is the liquid leftover from cooked or canned chickpeas. The trick to whipping aquafaba is using a hand or stand mixer. Whipping aquafaba takes about 4 minutes to get it foamy with and peaks like meringue.
Here is what my whipped aquafaba looked like. It could use more peaks!
15 oz can of chickpeas, drained liquid (aquafaba) reserved
¼ cup of aquafaba
1 tsp baking soda, optional
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
Juice of 1 lemon ( 2 - 3 tablespoons )
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Optional toppings: paprika, roasted pine nuts, oregano, etc
recommended kitchen gadgets
Hand-held mixer and food processor/blender
Bring a small pot of water to boil. While you wait, open your can of chickpeas reserve ¼ cup of the aquafaba liquid and set aside. Then, rinse the chickpeas.
Once boiling, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and the chickpeas to the pot. The baking soda will help loosen the peels. Since the chickpeas are already cooked, only leave them in there for 2-3 minutes (until you start seeing some of the peels float). Remove from the heat and immediately strain and rinse with cold water.
Now, you’ll want to go through the chickpeas and discard as many of the peels as possible for a smooth texture. Add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, and salt to your food processor.
Next, add your aquafaba to a bowl and whip it with a hand-held blender. This should take about 4 minutes, more or less. Once the aquafaba is creating peaks, add it to your food processor. Blend everything until smooth, about 1 - 2 minutes.
Store hummus in a well-sealed container in the fridge up to 5 days (no preservatives here!). Enjoy!
When someone asks me this, the first thing that comes to mind is aspartame (APM).
It’s the artificial sweetener in the beloved drink of so many. But does it increase one’s risk for cancer?
Let’s dive in.
APM was originally approved by the FDA commissioner in 1981, despite the FDA board of inquiry and several FDA scientists advising against the approval of the product due to brain cancer concerns. (1)
Between 1974 and 2018, several rodent studies were done to determine the effects of aspartame. In the end, different conclusions were made regarding cancer risk (2). Although we can gain some insight in rodent studies, in my professional opinion, conclusions based on rodent studies aren’t conclusive enough for us humans.
That’s not to say all human studies are entirely conclusive either:
An 18-week study on patients with diabetes found no serious adverse effects APM intake. (2)
A 5-year study of high levels of APM intake found no association with increased risk of hematopoietic (blood) cancer. (3)
A 10-year study found no association with an increased risk of lymphoma. (4)
Harvard conducted a long-term study following medical professionals for 18 years. It became the longest, most comprehensive study between the association of aspartame consumption and cancer risk in humans.
What did they find?
Researchers found a positive association between the consumption of diet soda and total aspartame intake with an increased risk in non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and multiple myeloma in men. Plus, an increased risk of leukemia in men and women. (5)
Meaning, the higher the consumption of aspartame, the higher the risk for these types of cancer.
Further studies also found an increased risk of pancreatic cancer in men who consume diet soft drinks containing APM. Interestingly enough, beverages sweetened with natural sugar were not associated with increased risk. (6)
Among other types of sugars researched (lactose, fructose, and sucrose), only lactose (milk sugar) was also associated with increased pancreatic cancer risk. (6)
Why the increased risk?
Aspartame is made from a methyl ester of dipeptide of phenylalanine and aspartic acid.
Whoa! That takes me back to biochemistry and organic chemistry class!
I’ll explain in English.
This component in APM is broken down into methanol in our bodies and then into formaldehyde -- a known human carcinogen.
APM itself is not a human carcinogen, but what it breaks down into is.
So, what does all of this information tell us?
Short-term human studies don’t tell us the whole picture. Even though the short-term studies found no cancer risk, it isn’t enough--in my opinion. The 18-year study was the first to find risk. Think about this, since APM’s introduction to foods and drinks was in 1971, many individuals have regularly consumed this product for a large chunk of their lifetime.
It is likely true that small doses of APM or Diet Coke here and there may not lead to increased risk, but regular consumption is certainly not recommended.
What if you love your Diet Coke? Consider reducing the amount you consume regularly. Switch to carbonated waters flavored with natural flavors, unsweetened teas, or water flavored with fresh fruit.
Although we know consumption of processed sugars isn’t considered “healthy” for us, I still live by the philosophy of, “Eat real sugar, just less.”
Want to learn more about sugar’s relationship with cancer? Alison reviewed the research here.
My favorite herb to use in the kitchen is fresh basil. No matter what variety, I love the crisp scent and lively flavor it adds to dishes.
Not only is Basil tasty, it’s beautiful!
But, it’s so much more than that.
Basil has been used for thousands of years for its health benefits, and for good reason. Basil contains a handful of phytochemicals including a carotenoid called beta-caryophyllene.
This particular phytochemical gives basil it’s anti-arthritic activity which may be attributed to its anti-inflammatory properties (1). As someone living with an autoimmune disease, I am all about anti-inflammatory properties!
Other standout phytochemicals found in basil can actually change gene expression, trigger cell death, and slow cell division (2). This is important when managing and preventing cancer.
To help us understand why these are good, I had Alison weigh in . . .
Gene Expression: This process allows a cell to respond to its changing environment. The changing of gene expression can be a positive or negative process. In this case, the properties in basil can essentially change a gene to fight against cancer, rather than fuel it.
Trigger Cell Death: This process, called apoptosis, is important to kill off a bad cell before it can become something more dangerous--like cancer.
Slow Cell Division: The slowing of cell division can lead to slowing the growth rate of cancer cells, reduce the risk of cancer spread, and stop cancer in its tracks.
This dressing is super creamy, yet Plant-Based!
Isn’t Alison awesome at explaining all that stuff?
In the end, fresh basil is not only tasty, it’s also great for the management and prevention of cancer prevention and reducing inflammation.
Want an easy way to incorporate fresh basil into your next meal? Try our Green Goddess Dressing (recipe below). It can be used on a salad, or even a big bowl full of vegetables and whole grains. Or try our Corn Pesto Pizza!
We love the dressing over potatoes, Cauliflower, and quinoa!
⅔ cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked)
⅓ cup fresh lemon juice (~ 1 ½ lemons)
¾ cup fresh basil (~ 1 ounce)
½ tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon salt
Begin by soaking the ⅔ cup raw cashews in warm water for at least 10 minutes.
Once soaked, drain the water the cashews were soaked in. To a food processor, add the soaked cashews, lemon juice, fresh basil, tahini, maple syrup, mustard, and garlic. Add salt to taste.
Depending your flavor, you can also add more tahini for a richer flavor. Or, if you would like a thinner consistency, add water or unsweetened non-dairy milk ½ to 1 tablespoon at a time until reaching desired consistency.
Drizzle over an abundance of greens or use as a sauce your favorite dish. Enjoy!
Research has found a few plausible explanations. One of them being high-protein diets, specifically high in animal proteins, increases a growth hormone known as IGF-1 in our bodies (or, insulin-like growth factor 1).
Let me explain.
IGF-1 is natural and necessary for human development. From birth to our adolescent years, we have higher levels of IGF-1 to help us grow.
So, how much do we want to grow as adults?
Not all that much. We want enough growth for our healthy cells like skin, hair, and GI (gastrointestinal) cells to turnover. Unfortunately, when IGF-1 is overexpressed (we have too much in our bodies) we encounter a problem because IGF-1 is a cancer promoting growth hormone. It is produced in excess by our liver when animal protein is consumed--meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. (2)
Before I go further, it is important to know a normal human cell has some IGF-1 receptors. There are several types of cell receptors. But let’s just focus on an IGF-1 receptor for the moment.
Let’s simplify a complicated process.
A simple diagram demonstrating the difference in IGF-1 receptors on normal vs. cancer cell.
Review the image above. On the normal cell, you can see a few IGF-1 receptors on the surface of the cell. When the IGF-1 hormone attaches to these receptors, cell growth is possible.
Now, take a look at the cancer cell. You’ll notice an increased number of IGF-1 receptors. Research has identified most cancer tumors have increased IGF-1 receptors on its surface, just like this image. When this happens, even more IGF-1 (the hormone) binds to the cell leading to overexpression of IGF-1, or accelerated growth of the cell. As a result, the development or progression of cancerous tumors is possible. (3)
On the other hand, research indicates IGF-1 levels are 13% lower in vegan women and 9% lower in vegan men compared to meat eating and vegetarian eaters. (4)
What’s the good news in all of this?
When individuals switched to a plant-based diet, IGF-1 levels were significantly reduced in just 11 days. (5) This is because the associations of disease and death in high-protein diets are eliminated when the protein is plant-derived. (6)
And in one of the most impressive studies on nutrition and cancer by Dr. Dean Ornish, it was found that a plant-based diet was able to reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer without surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation. (7)
How COOL is that?! #nutritionwin
Although high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets may lead to quick weight loss, at least in the short-term, it shouldn’t be recommended due to its negative long-term effects on health.
So, what should you take away from this?
Protein is a necessary nutrient for our health. It has many responsibilities. But the overconsumption of animal-protein should be avoided.
Not sure how much protein you need per day? I reviewed a quick way to estimate your protein needs in our Facebook Live.
What other questions do you have about protein and cancer? References
M E Levine, J A Suarez, S Brandhorst, P Balasubramanian, C W Cheng, F Madia, L Fontana, M G Mirisola, J Guevara-Aguirre, J Wan, G Passarino, B K Kennedy, M Wei, P Cohen, E M Crimmins, V D Longo.Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell Metab. 2014 Mar 4;19(3):407-17.
R Steuerman, O Shevah, Z Laron. Congenital IGF1 deficiency tends to confer protection against post-natal development of malignancies. Eur J Endocrinol. 2011 Apr;164(4):485-9.
N E Allen, P N Appleby, G K Davey, R Kaaks, S Rinaldi, T J Key. The associations of diet with serum insulin-like growth factor I and its main binding proteins in 292 women meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1441-8.
T H Ngo, R J Barnard, C N Tymchuk, P Cohen, W J Aronson. Effect of diet and exercise on serum insulin, IGF-I, and IGFBP-1 levels and growth of LNCaP cells in vitro (United States). Cancer Causes Control. 2002 Dec;13(10):929-35.
T T Fung, R M van Dam, S E Hankinson, M Stampfer, W C Willett, F B Hu. Low-carbohydrate diets and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: two cohort studies. Ann Intern Med. 2010 Sep 7;153(5):289-98.
D Ornish, G Weidner, W R Fair, R Marlin, E B Pettengill, C J Raisin, S Dunn-Emke, L Crutchfield, F N Jacobs, R J Barnard, W J Aronson, P McCormac, D J McKnight, J D Fein, A M Dnistrian, J Weinstein, T H Ngo, N R Mendell, P R Carroll. Intensive lifestyle changes may affect the progression of prostate cancer. J Urol. 2005 Sep;174(3):1065-9; discussion 1069-70.
To be honest, I debated if I should put this recipe up on the blog. I wondered if I would be doing a disservice to our readers by sharing it since it isn’t specifically ‘cancer fighting’ or whole-food, plant-based.
Then I realized, I’d be doing a disservice to our readers if I didn’t post it.
Let’s be real. I don’t have the most perfect, whole-food, plant-based diet -- I’m human. I enjoy my fair share of treats.
It would be easy to hide behind this screen pretend a lot of things.
Pretend it is always easy to roll out of bed to get a workout it.
Pretend I always enjoy being in the kitchen.
Pretend my 2-year old eats the perfect, balanced diet.
Pretend I don’t have days where I would rather lay on the couch all day and Netflix binge.
We aren’t here to pretend. We are here to be real. Because life.is.real.
Always remember, we are dedicated to bringing you up-to-date research, practical tips to improve your health, and delicious food that satisfies your tastebuds and cravings -- like this dairy-free cheesecake.
I won’t try to hide it (because you’ll find out once you scroll down anyway!). This cheesecake contains tofu. Yes, tofu.
Hear me out. The first time I was tempted to make this recipe, the tofu sat in my fridge well passed it’s expiration date. I threw it away and waited months to even buy it again. I finally had the courage to try it again and it didn’t disappoint me in the least!
(Concerned about tofu, soy, and cancer? Be sure to catch last week’s post: Soy & Breast Cancer)
After my first piece, I looked at my husband and said, “I never thought I would eat cheesecake again.”
Even though I don’t consider this cheesecake “healthy”, I do consider it a healthier version of traditional cheesecake. It is dairy-free, egg-free, easily made gluten-free, free of high fructose corn syrup, and made primarily of almonds.
I’ve had multiple testers of the recipe tell me they couldn’t believe it was vegan and believed it would easily fool the biggest critics of their plant-based lifestyle.
This dairy-free cheesecake recipe is about to change your dairy-free world!
Prepare your 9” springform pan for the cheesecake. Be sure it has a nice, tight seal*. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Start by opening your tofu package. Press the tofu for about 5 minutes. (Not sure how to press tofu? This is a good quick video!) This will remove some of the excess water. While you wait, make the crust.
Using a food processor, blend all cookies except for the 5 you’ll save for the cheesecake filling. Once blended into crumbs, add the ¼ cup melted plant-based butter. Mix until well combined.
Add the cookie mixture to the prepared pan. Press into the pan to form the crust. Line the bottom of the pan, and up the edge of the pan if you have enough cookies. Set aside.
Next, make the filling. Using your food processor, add the pressed tofu, cornstarch, and sugar. Blend for 4 minutes until smooth. You may need to stop halfway and wipe down the sides.
Once smooth, add the ricotta, cream cheese, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt. Blend for another 4 minutes, or until completely smooth.
Pull out the blade and using your hands, break up the 5 remaining cookies into the batter. Fold the batter with a rubber scraper until the cookie crumbs are distributed evenly.
Add the batter to the prepared pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes, or until the center is set.
Allow the cheesecake to cool completely. Once cooled, add to the refrigerator for at least 4-6 hours. Although, the best cheesecake is make a full-day ahead of time!
When ready to serve, drizzle with warmed, dairy-free hot fudge.
* Note: When I cook my cheesecake, I add a rimmed cookie sheet on the rack below the cheesecake to catch any almond oil that drips from the springform pan. I highly recommend since my first test run of this recipe led to a smoky house because of dripped almond oil to the bottom of the oven!