Vegan, Gluten-free, Nut-free optional

During the holiday season, we can easily be swayed into making poor food choices more often. With all of the parties, gatherings, and leftovers, poor quality food choices may be more convenient or tempting, especially sweets. As a nutritionist, I don’t believe in depriving ourselves of delicious foods, or cutting out sugars completely, for the average healthy person. When we choose quality, natural sugars, sweets can be a fun way to indulge and a great way to find balance. Depending on your Ayurvedic Dosha or TCM condition, good quality sweets actually make one of the best choices to round out your meals. 

Want to know what your Dosha is and what it means? Take the Dosha Quiz!

I like to have a healthier, home-made dessert on hand so that when the craving strikes, I have an excellent choice ready to go. This practice also pushes me to explore new recipes.

This Raw Pomegranate and Chocolate “Cheesecake” is the perfect fall or winter recipe as it is subtly sweet and uses in-season fruit. 

Have a nut allergy? No worries! You can skip the crust, use sunflower seeds or fresh coconut meat instead of cashews and turn these into individual cups!

Before diving into the recipe, let’s highlight some of the functional ingredients. 

Pomegranate: Post-summer, I have a hard time letting go of berries and watermelon; however, fall never disappoints with Asain pears, pomegranates, and persimmons. Eating in season is one great way to make your health a priority, support local farms, and reduce your carbon footprint. On top of that, in-season food tastes way better because it has the proper conditions to thrive and is far more nutrient-dense. 

Pomegranate seeds are in many different supplements, juices, smoothies, and even skincare products due to their incredible benefits like high antioxidants such as vitamin C and punicalagins. Additionally, pomegranate seeds are said to significantly lower triglycerides and improve the triglyceride-HDL ratio 1, have anti-inflammatory properties, especially on the gastrointestinal tract 2, and may help fight breast cancer 3, colon cancer 4 and prostate cancer. 5

Celtic sea salt: All salt is not created, harvested, or traded equally. I’m sure you’ve heard of the microplastics in a lot of salt as well as the destruction that some salt companies cause to the environment. This is why I choose Celtic sea salt. Additionally, Celtic sea salt is said to provide 82 trace minerals needed by the human body for optimal health and longevity. These minerals can help maintain an alkaline pH, balance electrolytes, and improve immunity, brain function, and sleep quality. 

Maple syrup: In raw food, you are probably used to seeing Agave nectar as the sweetener of choice. Agave was made famous because it has a low glycemic index (GI). Although a low GI may be helpful for some, it is not the only reason to choose an ingredient, and the cons of Agave most certainly outweigh the pros. In short, Agave is biochemically twins with high fructose corn syrup. You can read more about why Agave is not health food here

Using maple syrup may not be technically raw, but choosing quality ingredients will always be more important than surrendering to labels. Maple syrup is also considered low GI, when pure, can have up to 24 different antioxidants, is loaded with minerals, and may be protective against certain types of cancer.6

Raw Pomegranate and Chocolate “Cheesecake” 

Macadamia Nut Crust

This is the same crust I use for my Raw Vegan Lemon Meringue Pie

Directions: 

  1. Place macadamia nuts and Celtic sea salt in a food processor.
  2. Process until all of the nuts are broken down, occasionally pausing to scrape nuts off the sides of the food processor. 
  3. Be careful not to over-process as this will make the finished product too oily. You want a consistency that is soft and easily breaks apart but also holds together when you push it between your fingers.
  4. Press the crust evenly into a lightly greased springform pan and set aside. You can use coconut oil to grease the pan.

Chocolate Pomegranate Filling

  • 3 Cups soaked cashews, sunflower seeds, or fresh coconut meat
  • 2 ¼ Cups pomegranate juice
  • ¼ Cup lemon juice
  • ¾ Cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid vanilla
  • ¼ Teaspoon Celtic sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp lecithin
  • ¾ Cup coconut butter

For swirling

  • ¼ Cup raw cocoa 
  • 1 Tablespoon liquid vanilla

Directions

  1. In a high speed, blender like a Vitamix, blend the cashews, pomegranate juice, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, and Celtic sea salt
  2. Add the lecithin and coconut butter, blend until well incorporated. 
  3. Separate ½ of the pomegranate batter into another container, preferably one with a spout for pouring.
  4. Add the raw cocoa and liquid vanilla to the remaining batter and blend until well mixed.
  5. Start to alternate pouring the cocoa and pomegranate batters over your crust in the springform pan.
  6. I like to layer the batters in spots instead of one right on top of each other in even layers, but make this design your own!
  7. To get swirls on the top layer, pour each type of batter next to each other. You don’t have to do even amounts if you want one color to be more dominant than the other. Then, using a toothpick, chopstick, or butter knife, insert your tool about ¼ of an inch into the batter and then move in a serpentine pattern across the entire top. 
  8. Place in the freezer for 2 hours, then move to the refrigerator overnight. Depending on how cold your refrigerator is, you may need to wait 24 hours for the batter to solidify. 
  9. The final product should be firm and hold together but not impossible to cut (frozen).
  10. You can top with pomegranate seeds, cocoa nibs, or keep it as is!

Do you like making raw desserts? What other recipes would you like to see from me? Comment below!