Don’t get me wrong, I love traditional cheesecake, but I felt like making a lighter version today. Meet the half-baked Greek yogurt cheesecake! This little beauty uses ground flax and almonds instead of Graham crackers, and Greek yogurt plus cashews instead of cream cheese for way more nutrients and less saturated fat. Maybe it sounds weird, but I promise, it isn’t.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post I developed for Manitoba Milling Co. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Is There Really No Cream Cheese in Here??
I know it seems sacrilegious, but nope, this half-baked Greek yogurt cheesecake doesn’t really have cheese in it. Maybe I should call it a “cheese” cake. No. That’s weirder. Scratch that. Whether you’re trying to consume fewer animal products or just trying to get more bang for your nutritional buck, you can make some super creamy and amazing things with cashews.
Soaking the cashews overnight helps soften them so they blend up nice and smoothly. In addition to a no-bake cheesecake, you can also make delicious sauces, cheese substitutes, butter, and milk from cashews.
Nutrition benefits of cashews:
- Cashews are high in poly- and monounsaturated fats. Substituting saturated fat for unsaturated fats can reduce cardiovascular disease risk and improve your cholesterol profile.
- Cashews are also high in vitamins and minerals, specifically vitamins E, K, and B6, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium. These nutrients do so many things to help your body function optimally, but in short, many of them support healthy eyes and blood.
What About Butter?
Grahm cracker crusts usually consist of – you guessed it – graham crackers and melted butter. I substituted coconut oil for butter in this recipe for two reasons:
- It has a yummy flavor
- It makes it easier to make this a vegan recipe if you choose
Notice something missing? I didn’t use coconut oil because it is nutritionally superior. Now, I don’t mean to stir the pot, but the research on coconut oil is mixed. (Kitchen pun not entirely intended…) Compared to butter, coconut oil is actually higher in saturated fat. Saturated fat raises both LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and HDL (“good cholesterol”). It’s important to note that the type of saturated fat in coconut oil (lauric acid) raises HDL to a larger extent than other oils. Coconut oil also contains some antioxidants, which could have potential in preventing heart disease on their own. Fans of coconut oil point to these antioxidant and HDL effects as a reason to eat more of this oil.
My take? It’s fine to use coconut oil in moderation! Just don’t go (coco)nuts with it. I use it as a replacement for butter and in dishes that need a bit more flavor or need to be cooked at high temperatures. But, current research doesn’t tell us that the benefits of coconut oil (raising HDL) outweigh the risks (raising LDL).
Other butter substitutes: Greek yogurt, nut butter, pumpkin puree, mashed banana, ghee, olive oil
Why I Add Flax to Just About Everything
Ground flaxseeds are a versatile ingredient that can add a nutritional boost to a variety of dishes. Flax contains omega-3 fatty acids, specifically ALA, which is an essential fatty acid (i.e. the human body can’t make it). Omega-3’s like ALA support heart health and reduce inflammation. Flax also contains protein to keep you full and fiber to improve digestion. You can use flax in smoothies and baked goods, as an egg substitute (1 tbs flax + 3 tbs water), or as a topping for oatmeal, yogurt, and salads.
My only gripe with flax is that it can end up feeling gritty and dry in some recipes. Flaxseeds needs to be ground for us to get the benefits from them, and many brands are ground a little bit coarsely for my liking. Manitoba Milling Co. was nice enough to send me a sample of their Smooth Whole Milled Flax, which was so much better than other brands I’ve tried. It blended easily into my graham cracker crust and gave it a nutty flavor and golden color without any of the grittiness. I can’t wait to try it in my smoothies! (Grab some for yourself HERE.)
How to Make Half-Baked Greek Yogurt Cheesecake
This recipe is “half-baked” because you really only bake the crust! The filling is ready to eat as soon as it’s blended, which makes this recipe a lot less time-consuming than a traditional cheesecake recipe.
I started by soaking the cashews overnight to soften them up.
The next day, I got working on the crust, which was ready within a few pulses of the food processor. (If you’re looking for a great food processor, I personally have a Cuisinart and I’m obsessed with it.) The combination of cinnamon, honey, and flax tastes very similar to a graham cracker but with way more nutrients and less sugar. I prefer to use a pie pan for my cheesecake, but you can also make this recipe into bars by pressing the crust mixture into a quarter inch layer on a baking sheet. Just throw it in the oven for about 12 minutes to bake, let it cool, then it’s ready to go!
The cheesecake mixture is simply vanilla Greek Yogurt and blended cashews. Blend it for at least 2 minutes until it’s nice and smooth. This mixture could easily be flavored to your liking, but I wanted to keep this one simple. It would be lovely with fresh fruit, cocoa powder, or cinnamon.
When the mixture is ready, top the chilled crust with the cheesecake mixture. If you’re serving the half-baked greek yogurt cheesecake immediately, top it with strawberries or whichever fruit you desire. If you’re planning on serving it later, add your toppings immediately before serving. Toppings like sliced strawberries will tend to dry out if left out too long, so I recommend keeping the finished cheesecake refrigerated for a maximum of 2 days.
Want to make it vegan?
Swap maple syrup or brown sugar for the honey and non-dairy yogurt for the Greek yogurt.
Half-Baked Greek Yogurt Cheesecake with Coconut Flax CrustPrint Recipe
- 1/2 cup ground flaxseeds
- 1/2 cup almond meal
- 2 tsp whole wheat flour
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
- 1 cup sliced strawberries
Preheat oven to 350F
Combine crust ingredients (flaxseeds, almond meal, whole wheat flour, honey, cinnamon, coconut oil, shredded coconut) in a food processor. Pulse until combined. You may need to scrape down the sides.
Press crust into a pie pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and chill.
Combine soaked cashews and Greek yogurt in the food processor. Blend for about 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.
Top chilled crust with the cheesecake mixture. Top with strawberries. Chill for 10 minutes and serve.
Nutrition facts (per serving): 322 calories, 24g fat (6g saturated, 9g unsaturated), 21g carbs (7g fiber, 6g sugar), 10g protein