We’ve created a lemon cheesecake dessert to be Clean Program-approved, which means it’s gluten-free and vegan. With a creamy cashew base and fresh citrus undertones (minus the traditional dairy and sugar), you’ll want seconds.
Cashews are a great vegan replacement for all things creamy. From savory sauces to decadent desserts, it’s an incredible go-to choice. Cashews are softer than many nuts, and after soaking them, they blend into an incredibly thick, smooth texture. Plus, cashews have a mild flavor, so they’ll take on whatever spices and ingredients you combine them with (they can lean both sweet and savory relatively easily). In addition to making nuts blend more efficiently, there’s another benefit to soaking them.
Nuts contain phytic acid (which is also found in grains and legumes). It can impact the body’s ability to absorb minerals (iron, zinc, and calcium). By soaking or sprouting grains and nuts alike, you break down the phytic acid making these foods gentler on digestion and more nutritious since our body can use the micronutrients. It’s always a good idea to soak, sprout, or ferment phytic acid-containing foods. You can also often find pre-sprouted bags of grains, nuts, and legumes in most specialty stores.
Pecans are more than seventy percent fat, mainly providing heart-healthy fats. More specifically, they are rich in oleic acid and phenolic antioxidants, which help decrease the risk for stroke and heart disease. Walnuts provide similar heart benefits. They are also exceptionally high in DHA, which is a type of omega-3 acid. Walnuts are often touted as “brain food,” in large part thanks to their DHA content. DHA has been shown to improve cognitive ability and decrease the chances of developing neurological diseases later in life.
Lemon does more than brighten the flavor of this vegan dessert. The benefits of consuming lemons are endless, but their positive effect on blood pressure is one particularly enticing impact. In studies, the flavonoids in both the juice and the skin of lemons have been shown to decrease blood pressure. One reason noted is that lemon consumption helps keep blood vessels soft and flexible. Lemons act as a mild diuretic, meaning they flush excess salt and water out of the system. This helps keep bloat at bay and causes the walls of your blood vessels to relax and open, effectively making it easier for blood to flow through the body.
Walnuts aren’t the only brain-enhancing ingredient in this cheesecake. Blackberries, one of the main stars of this dessert, are also known for improving brain health. Specifically, the antioxidants in blackberries have been shown to improve how brain neurons communicate. This decreases memory loss and improves cognitive performance, which is particularly important as we age. Blackberries are also high in vitamin C, K, and fiber.
2 cups cashews, soaked
1/2 cup fresh blackberries
1/4 cup full-fat canned coconut milk (refrigerate can overnight)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/4 cup coconut palm syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Medjool dates
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup raw walnuts
2 tablespoons coconut oil (or ghee, if not cleansing)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Step 1: Soak cashews. Ideally, soak them overnight. In a rush, you can soak them in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Once done soaking, rinse and drain cashews.
Step 2: Combine all crust ingredients in a food processor. Pulse on high until finely chopped and thoroughly combined. Press the crust into your tart pans (you can also use a baking sheet or muffin tin with this recipe).
Step 3: Add all filling ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend on high until creamy and smoothie.
Step 4: Carefully scoop filling into crusts and smooth tops with a spoon.
Step 5: Put cheesecakes into the freezer for 30-60 minutes or in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to set. Top lemon cheesecake with blackberries and mint for serving.
Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble
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