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There’s A Veggie In My Cheesecake

Raw desserts are delicious, and raw desserts are healthy.

But if there’s one thing raw desserts aren’t, it’s lower in calories…

Until now.

zucchini cheesecake

I’m not a raw foodist, but I do enjoy eating raw desserts. One of the things I like most about raw treats is that they’re high in calories without also being high in bulk. That can be a true blessing for people like me, who require a lot of calories but who don’t wish to give up so-called “bulky” foods such as salads, huge helpings of veggies, and other extremely filling dishes. I rely on calorie-dense foods to supplement my high-bulk diet so I can take in enough fuel without ending up with a stomachache.

However, not everyone needs a high-calorie diet, about which Healthy Tiffany reminded me a few weeks ago. In her comment, she asked if I could create a raw dessert that everyone can enjoy. If you’ve been reading my blog and have only learned one thing about me, I hope it’s that I genuinely care about people and want everyone to be happy. Most of my recipes are easily adaptable for different lifestyles: depending on a recipe, you can sub water or applesauce for oil, use a gluten-free flour, or even pick and choose which sweeteners to use.

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Please ignore the fact that it looks like a hockey puck. It’s delicious, I swear!
Thanks to Tiffany for the challenge.

Raw “Secret Veggie” Cheesecake

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter, such as Artisana (about 110g)
  • Heaping 1/2 cup raw zucchini (80g)
  • Heaping 1/8 tsp salt
  • Scant 2 tbsp lemon juice (20g)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil OR water (8g)
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Stevia or sugar of choice, as desired – If you use a liquid sweetener, omit the water/oil.

Add all the ingredients together and blend very well. If you’re using a Magic Bullet, you might want to blend the zucchini a little first, so it doesn’t stay chunky. Transfer your mixture to a pie-crust or cheesecake mold (I actually use an empty soy cream cheese container) and freeze. Thaw before eating. This makes a mini cheesecake. For a true-sized cheesecake, double or triple the recipe.

Variations:

  • Raw Cookie Dough Pie: add chocolate chips to the batter!
  • Piña Colada Pie: omit the lemon, and blend in crushed pineapple
  • Coconut Cream Pie: omit lemon, use coconut butter for cashew butter
  • Cashew Freezer Fudge: freeze in a shallow pan and cut into squares
  • Cheesecake Popsicles: freeze in popsicle molds
  • Peanut Butter Pie: omit the lemon and use peanut butter for the cashew butter. Top with chocolate! (I did this! Photos coming soon!)

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Still in cheesecake mode? Check out my Raw Banana Split Cheesecake recipe.

If, like me, you’re not watching your weight, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this recipe too. Just be sure to cut yourself a big slice. So easy, so good, so healthy! Don’t tell your kids there’s a veggie inside. Or do. I’ve never been a proponent of lying to kids to get them to eat there veggies. ‘Cause someday you’re not going to be there to feed them, and if they haven’t learned to love veggies, they’ll make non-veggieful choices when out on their own. Sorry Mrs. Seinfeld, but I don’t subscribe to your “Deception.” Tell kids the truth!

What do you think of the “hiding veggies” movement made popular by books such as Deceptively Delicious?

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Published on September 21, 2010

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Chocolate Covered Katie is one of the top 25 food websites in America, and Katie has been 
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255 Comments

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  1. Jennifer - jcd says

    Just like anything in life, the sooner kids learn the peoper way to do things, such as eating and loving vegetables, the better off they will be. Most kids I know LOVE their veggies; even broccoli disappears off their plates. When in doubt, add a sauce or dip of some kind. The simple action of dipping something (veggies, crackers, fingers) into a sauce/dip is too fun and yummy to resist. Other ways to get kids to eat their veggies: set a good example and eat them yourself, make exciting nicknames for them (x-ray vision salad, souper power soup, raninbow kebabs), or arrange the veggies in a fun pattern on the plate. A red bell pepper, some raisins, and a medjool date make a really cute ladybird snack. Disguising them only makes the problem worse when kids are faced with actual veggies on their plate. Sorry, Seinfield, I disagree with you too!

    On the other hand, I completely agree with Miss Katie!! High calorie, high nutrient density raw desserts are super yummy and very important for an active girl like myself. I may have to pass on this recipe though, I like your original raw cheesecake too much.

  2. Angela says

    This looks delicious. I love that you used cashew butter and zucchini, such an interesting mix.

    I’m okay with the hidden veggies thing, but I’m fine eating veggies raw as well. Maybe if I weren’t into veggies it would bother me more. I’ve never known children who refuse to eat veggies (seriously) so it does seem extreme that they won’t eat them unless there hidden, but to me that begs the question where did they develop this behavior or distaste? I feel like its learned. As a kid my brother loved broccoli, mostly because my mom told him he was eating green trees. It didn’t take much to get him to try them so I feel like there might be better ways to going about it.

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      I don’t see why not. But I’m always hesitant to give amounts for sweetener, because I have absolutely no sweet tooth, so the amount of sweetener I usually add is nowhere near what others find palatable. I’m guessing that maybe a packet would work for normal taste buds? It’s always a good idea to start with less and add more if needed. You can’t take any away once you add it!

  3. VEGirl says

    Holy Moly! I am SO making the coconut cream pie variation. I just have to wait until my free samples come…

    Thanks for the recipe for all the people who need higher-cal foods– though most of your recipes can be adapted to do that (obv.- since you do it!). Your explanation was very eloquent and I just loved it 🙂 Gosh I love you!!!!! By the way, the 1st photo of the cheesecake is absolutely beautiful– I could tell you didn’t use flash 😉

    Lotsa love,
    VEGirl

  4. Raychel says

    I DEFINTELY agree with the no-hiding-veggies from kids. Otherwise, they wont grow up to like them. That being said, I have some friends (TEENAGERS- seriously 14 and 19, two different families) who refuse to eat vegetables of ANY kind! Now in those cases, I think these recipes might be (pathetically) appropriate.

  5. Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA says

    People think that kids won’t like lots of foods so they don’t even give the kids a chance to try them without saying, “Oh, they won’t like that.” If parents are enthusiastic about vegetables and don’t see them as some nutritional obligation serving as a roadblock on the way to dessert, kids will be, too.

  6. (M.S.)^2 says

    Hmm…this is a really hard one, because if your kid thinks it’s good and you tell them it has veggies in it, they would either be grossed out or they can say “Wow! Veggies are good!” It totally depends on how your kid responds. I’d like to tell them the truth, but if I actually have my own kids, I might not tell them.

    And really really cute cheesecake, btw!! It looks really small though…Is the plate small, or is the actual cake small??

  7. Namaste Gurl says

    Awwwh, Katie this recipe is amazing…. i’m not suprised though, all your creations turn out spectacular 🙂

    I have ALL these ingredients on hand, so maybe when I’m feeling indulgent I’ll give this one a try. Do you use grated zucchini in the recipe? You just put zucchini, so i’m wondering if it should be grated to just cut julienne- style 🙂

    Love what you said about fats not being “bad or scary”. They SOOOO aren’t– I depend on them, like you, to supplement much of my diet when I eat lots of veggies, grains, legumes, etc. I’m glad I have others who relate with my of eating high- calorie foods to stay healthy 🙂

    xoxo

  8. Sonya says

    I used to believe my kids should at least try something before they decided they didn’t like it – so I never thought about being sneaky… That is, until my now 3yr old came along. He has autism and is an extremely picky eater. I sneak in veggies and other good for him things in everything that I can – otherwise he would live on chips and cheese 🙁 I bought a Vitamix just so I could hide stuff better 😉 Thanks for the great recipes!!!

  9. Amy says

    I am not a proponent of hiding veggies. I agree with you when you say children will make unwise decisisons when left alone if they have not learned to make healthy choices and like vegetables.

    The adult should be an example by eating a variety of veggies and other healthy foods, and then the child will follow their example. Monkey see, money do.

    What you said here — “I rely on calorie-dense foods to supplement my high-bulk diet so I can take in enough fuel without ending up with a tummy ache!” — really resonated with me. I had to learn that that was my style of diet by trail and error (aka getting many tummy aches), but now I am feeling much better by eating less, but eating foods that are higher in calories.

  10. couchpotatoathlete says

    I don’t really like the “hidden veggies” thing — I think with time (and lots of trying and different ways of preparation) most people will learn to love veggies. I remember not liking veggies as a kid, but guess what veggies my parents wanted us to eat: canned peas and corn. Ugh. There are so many delicious vegetables and ways of preparing, why stick with those?

    I do like to put veggies in stuff: shredded zucchini in baked goods, lots of veggies on pizza and on pasta, but I wouldn’t consider them “hidden”.

  11. Kiki says

    I totally agree with you about hiding veggies. When I grow up and have kids, I plan on leading by example and showing them that veggies are delicious! I think parents should let their children try each veggie once, in recipes where you can actually see them, and if the kids doesn’t like a certain type, it’s okay. Probably in a few years their tastebuds will change anyway, so why spend all that time and effort trying to put veggies where they’re not supposed to be?

  12. Kelsey @ Clean Teen Kelsey says

    I guess I can understand why people try to hide veggies in kids’ food, but if they’d been raised with a love of different food and vegetables there would be no need for it. Take Skylar, Averie’s daughter. She eats raw vegetables all the time and loves them, because that’s how she’s been raised. I hope I can raise my kids the same way. 🙂

    2 questions for ya:

    1. Can this be made with regular raw cashews? How could I substitute that? I have some cashew butter packets… but I’m not sure if I want to use them all up quite yet. 😛
    2. Does the zucchini do anything in particular, like add texture or fluff? Or is it just there to prove that you can’t taste it? Just curious. 🙂

    Your pictures in this post are beautiful! Love them.

  13. spoonfulofsugarfree says

    Ha! My gosh, I’ve been waiting for this recipe 🙂 I’ve been telling everyone, “Katie is making a cheesecake with veggies!” Hehe..

    But what I do with my little brother is give him the food, and tell him before he eats it that it doesn’t have any of the foods he has never tried before or doesn’t like. He has this mind-block where he refuses to eat it if he has never tried it before. Then, after he tries it and says he likes it, I tell him what is in it.

    Kids can be tricky 🙂

      • spoonfulofsugarfree says

        Katie! I just tried this! I don’t know if I used the exact measurements, but I did 1/2 zucchini, small handful of cashews, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and some dried coconut in the magic bullet! It looks like an alien-green color, but it tastes so good! It’s in the freezer now, and it will be officially ready for me tonight for dessert 🙂

  14. Lyza says

    I definitely think we should CELEBRATE veggies with children 🙂 Hiding them brings such a negative connotation!! Veggies are wonderful and make you feel good, I don’t understand the weirdness in our culture that is attached with veggies! If we get them excited for veggies and health from the start, there’s no reason to hide them! And there’s so many kinds to choose from, there’s bound to be some your child will like. I guess if there are children in the world who can’t stand ANY kind of veggie, maybe hiding them would be effective, but I doubt that’s the case if you are endorsing them and getting excited about them from the start. It’s easy to make them fun, they’re so colorful and there are so many textures! I can think of a million more veggie or fruit fun activities to make than I could meat or sweets.

  15. melissa @ the delicate place says

    ha sneaky veg! i don’t hide mine at all, i love them! i kinda get upset about the chef boyardee commercials because i feel like that stuff is made of the devil haha BUT at least they are *trying* to get something healthy in there!

  16. Bianca- Vegan Crunk says

    Oh Katie, this looks yummy!!!! I wanna make! That’ll be on the list for next raw day, for sure! I’m not a big fan of limiting fats either (I do count calories, but I like to get my calories from plenty of healthy fats), but this just means that I can eat two cheezecakes instead of one. 🙂

  17. Michelle (Housewife in the Raw) says

    I think you can both ‘hide’ veggies and serve them. I occasionally add pureed veggies into a dish, but more so to up the nutritional value than to trick my kids. I think it is very important for your kids to be exposed to lots of vegetables in their natural form from the start and also important for them to see you eating them too. I see some moms who eat no veggies, wondering why their kids won’t try them. Kids learn so much by watching their parents. It’s scary and humbling, but true.

    It’s also very important to respect your kid’s tastes and not force too many things. My daughter loves raw red bell peppers and eats them whole. My son despises them. I see no reason to force either of them to eat things they truly don’t like. They must try a good size bite of everything on their plate and then they can choose what to eat.

    I could talk forever about feeding kids, as it is something I am very passionate about and in the midst of, so I’ll bow out now….

    • Chocolate-Covered Katie says

      Oh Michelle, terrific insight! I always cringe when I hear parents say, “You HAVE to finish everything on your plate.” Give kids a choice and let them know that having an opinion is ok! My parents never forced me to eat any particular food, either (aside from a “no thank you” taste if I’d never before tried it). When I was little, I hated mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, etc. But now I love them all. Perhaps if they’d forced the foods on me, I would’ve always HATED these foods simply out of resentment (not to mention how much I might’ve resented my parents for making me eat them).

  18. Mary @ Bites and Bliss says

    I love raw desserts/bars but I agree..most of them are way too high in calories for just a snack. I prefer to have big, bulky veggie filled meals over a small bar anyday. Even though they’re about the same nutrient-wise..big meals are just way more fun to eat!

  19. Eleanor says

    I love the using vegetables for puddings etc thing – I’ve made cakes with potato, courgette, aubergine, beetroot, butternut…! Not just to get them, in because I love veg anyway, but they give the food amazing texture and add to the taste without making things taste vegetable-y, if that makes sense!
    Courgette/zucchini is brilliant for that; I’m experimenting with bread made from it at the moment and it’s great (although turning out as verrry small loaves!) 🙂

  20. Tanya says

    That cheesecake looks great! I’m all for raw desserts, but yes, one thing I’ve noticed from a lot of raw food bloggers (& a lot of vegan ones too) is the use of very high calorie foods, which I have to limit. I’ve worked really hard at losing a ton of weight and don’t want to mess it up. I do eat nuts and avocados, etc….but I limit them….just can’t eat as much of them as everyone else.

    About the “hiding veggies” thing….I’ve seen a lot of tv commercials lately about this very thing. Certain companies are trying to hide the amount of vegetables in their foods and I don’t really like it. Maybe the first time they try it….but when they like it…you should tell them it’s good for you too! Don’t keep it a secret…then they’ll grow up still thinking that vegetables taste bad. We don’t want that, do we??

    T.

    • StraightOutTheGardenGirl says

      Hi Tanya- you really can eat more healthy fats than what your’e eating. I too lost a lot of weight after having my daughter and guess what one of my big focuses was: I ate nut butters throughout the day. It actually makes you feel fuller than eating a smaller amount, and they help you melt the fat right off. The ones that worked the best for me are coconut (oil) and peanut butter. Make sure you are eating only natural/ raw, organic (if the budget allows) and virgin c.o. I put the c.o. on everything!

  21. Chelsea says

    I personally don’t care if there are vegetables in my desserts or anything else, but I don’t like the idea of “hiding veggies” when it comes to kids. This just puts in their minds that vegetables aren’t something worth enjoying on their own and they’re unlikely to ever come around to like veggies once they realize they’ve been hidden in their favorite dishes.

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