How often have you wanted a piece of cheesecake, positively craved cheesecake – but turned it down because you didn’t want all that fat and calories? Are you trying to eat well and have resigned yourself to doing without one of life’s most famous comfort foods? Well, those days are over.

When I discovered that I had to avoid sugar, I started trying to adapt some of my favorite recipes to a more healthy lifestyle. One of these was an old recipe for cheesecake, simple enough that it was easy to cut out the sugar and a great deal of the fat. I got to work and began experimenting. The result is a cheesecake that mimics the regular thing so well that most people to whom I’ve served it can’t tell much of a difference. It has the firm consistency typical of a good cheesecake and the creamy taste as well.

Notes: in this recipe, do not substitute any other sugar replacement for the Splenda unless it’s one that can be used for cooking and baking. Splenda tastes and measures like sugar, so I find it the easiest to use. Also, be sure to use a deep-dish pie dish; the smaller capacity ones won't do.

Crust Ingredients and Method

  • Two cups (500 ml) of rolled oats (Use plain oats - do not use instant or quick-cooking oats!)
  • 1 to 1½ cups (250 - 375 ml) light margarine, melted (I use Bummell and Brown; you can use any light margarine as long as it doesn’t say "not suitable for cooking or frying" on the label. And don’t use butter. Yes, I know you like it. I do too, but we’re trying to cut down on the fat here, remember?)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Splenda

First, the oats must be ground to a flour. I usually do this in the blender, a half-cup at a time. Then, transfer the oat “flour” to a bowl and mix in the Splenda. Add the melted margarine and mix thoroughly to make a firm dough. Now you’re ready to put the dough in your pie dish and spread it out to create the pie shell. Use your fingers, or a spoon, or whatever, and try for a consistent thickness over the entire dish. As the cheesecake bakes, this will turn into a sort of shortbread and will create a nice crust for the cheesecake.

Now, preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 and start on the filling mixture.

Filling Ingredients and Method

  • 3 8-ounce (250 gm) bricks of fat-free cream cheese, at room temperature.
  • 1 cup (250 ml) Splenda (use one-half cup more if you like a sweeter cheesecake)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten (If you really want to cut down on fat, use an egg substitute – it works just as well.)
  • 16 ounces (500 ml) fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) vanilla extract

Using the lowest speed on your mixer, beat the cream cheese until it’s nice and creamy. Then, add the Splenda and egg, and beat at medium speed until fully mixed. Next, add the sour cream and vanilla extract, and again beat at medium speed until fully mixed.

Pour the mixture into your waiting pie shell, and spread it out evenly.

Bake for at least one hour, or until the surface of the cheesecake just shows a very light brown. The surface may be cracked – this recipe doesn’t produce a cheesecake that looks as if it came from New York.

Finally, resist the temptation to dig into the cheesecake as it comes from the oven! It's not quite finished yet. Allow it to cool until it's just barely warm, then cover it tightly with aluminium foil. Place the cheesecake in your refrigerator for at least one to two hours.

Then, just before you serve it, top the entire thing with a generous layer of low-fat or “light” whipped cream. Serve to your waiting guests, or just enjoy it yourself and know that this cheesecake isn't going to ruin your figure!

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