Earth Café Vegan Raw Cheesecake Review and Giveaway

Earth Cafe Raspberry cheesecake

This cheesecake intrigued me.

Making a cheesecake gluten free is easy, just use gluten free cookie or cracker crumbs, or nuts for the crust. 

And I have made many successful dairy free desserts (and more) with silken tofu.

But a vegan and raw cheesecake? No eggs, no baking? How do they do that?

Very well!

Vegetarian Times magazine Foodie Awards 2010 named it a winner in the Best Raw Goodies category.

The “cheese” part is made with soaked nuts, agave, flavorings of lemon, vanilla, and cinnamon. And fresh fruit for the fruit flavors. Ground nuts make an excellent crust. I’ve never met a nut I didn’t like.

The filling was creamy and firm. The crust was crunchy. Our taste buds were happy, so was my tummy. And this is super important to me.

Specifics, please.

We tried five flavors. All came individually packaged in recyclable clamshells.

Nutrition info on the back of the package states there are two servings per package. So we cut each piece in two. And it was a nice ending to a meal. Cheesecake is high calorie whether it is “regular” or vegan or raw. A little piece is just right. Each serving is just shy of 200 calories, around 15 grams of carbohydrates and 15 grams fat.

Earth Café uses organic ingredients whenever possible.

Which did we like best?

Frist up was Who’s Your Daddy Carob Mousse Pie. This was my husband’s favorite and a top seller according to the company. It was light brown, very smooth, and sweet. My husband said it tasted like maple. I found it too sweet, but most people like things sweeter than I do.

Rockin’ Raspberry was my favorite. You can see how beautiful it is in the picture with the layer of whole berries in the middle. Fresh fruit is the first ingredient.  You could smell it and taste it. It wasn’t to sweet for me, and was sweet enough for my husband. A winner.

Find Your Thrill on Blueberry Hill flavor grabs you first with its beautiful color. Fresh Blueberries (first ingredient again) are pureed into the filling. It had blueberry scent and flavor. A hit with both of us again.

Cali Style Lemon had a bit of coconut aroma and tart lemon flavor. I don’t know what Cali style is, but I love lemon. Cashews were the first ingredient here and the filling was beige. Perhaps adding a bit of turmeric could make it a more appealing pale yellow.

Though we would not turn a slice down, Strawberry Fields Forever flavor was our least favorite. Strawberries were the first ingredient again, but we couldn’t taste or smell the berries. They were pureed into the filling, making it a lavender pink color.

You can visit Earth Café for five more flavors. They ship frozen whole cheesecakes in the U.S. for $34.99 plus shipping. Individual clamshells are available at select stores, with suggested retail of $5.29-5.99.

Giveaway

Leave a comment below by March 11 for a chance to win a free cheesecake. Two lucky winners will be randomly selected March 12, 2011.

Tell us which flavor you’d like to try. Will it be raspberry or Life is Sweet Potato Pie? Banana Cream or Cherry Dream?

Disclaimer

My review policy is to only post about products I like, whether I purchase them or they are free. If I don’t like the product, I simply don’t write about it. Earth Café cheesecakes were sent to us free of charge.

Update 3/16/11. The giveaway is now closed. The lucky winners are Nina and Pat. Enjoy!

Grilled Mediterranean Salad

We have to wait until the very end of the season for red and yellow peppers from our garden. But what a treat!! We especially love them raw, sliced for a sweet healthy snack.

grilled-mediterranean-salad

grilled Mediterranean Veggie Salad photo by vsimon

But we also like them grilled. This Mediterranean Salad is just the dish to use the bounty in our garden. We use tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant here. You can buy all of these from the store of course.

Add some chickpeas and walnuts to make this a hearty vegan dish. Perfect for Meatless Mondays.

Stew transformed into salad!

I adapted a Mediterranean stew so we could enjoy a brilliant sunny day and grill on the deck. No need to be cooped up inside.

So rather than a warm and saucy stew, we had a warm and tangy grilled salad. I switched out cherry tomatoes for canned. Added sherry vinegar for a punch of flavor. And walnuts for crunch.

Sherry vinegar deserves wider use and is perfect here. But you can use other vinegars, like apple cider or balsamic.

Do not use malt vinegar or black rice vinegar. There are not gluten free. 

Grilled Mediterranean Salad

serves 4 as a main dish, 8 as a side

6 skinny eggplants, large dice

3 bell peppers, chopped (1 each green, yellow and red)

1 onion, chopped

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon oil

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained

2/3 cup kalamata olives, halved

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Chives for garnish, optional

Heat grill to high.

Line a rimmed sheet pan with nonstick foil.

Put diced veggies (eggplant, peppers, onion) and cherry tomatoes on prepared pan. Toss with oil.

Grill over medium heat for about 20 minutes. You want to mostly leave the veggies alone, to caramelize. Stir only occasionally.

Watch the grill though. Some grills are very hot, and the veggies will burn quickly. If your grill is like this, stir frequently and cook for less time. You do not want veggie charcoal.

When veggies are tender and browned in places, put into a large bowl. Toss with chickpeas, kalamata olives, sherry vinegar, and rosemary.

Put salad on a serving platter and top with walnuts and chives. Or fresh rosemary sprigs if you have them. Enjoy!

mediterranean-salad-on-the-grill

veggies ready to grill photo by vsimon

T is for Teff

Teff is teeny tiny. Just the size of the period at the end of this sentence. It is dark brown and can be used as a whole seed, or ground into flour.

Teff is a staple in Africa where the flour is used to make Injera, the sour dough bread of Ethiopia. Injera is really like a giant pancake. Meals are served on platters layered with the thin spongy bread, topped with many mixed dishes. Diners tear off bits of Injera by hand, fill them with food, then tuck into their mouth. No utensils needed.

Be sure to try Injera when it is offered in a restaurant, if you can make sure it is gluten free. In the states, it may be made with a combo of teff and wheat flour. So you must ask and be comfortable with the answer.

I love the tang of Injera and have tried making it at home. But I have trouble with sour dough starters. There may be truth to the adage the some areas just have better (sour dough) culture than others.

Nutrition

Teff provides thiamin, niacin, B6 and folate, iron, some calcium, and fiber. Nutrients often missing in the usual gluten free diet.

What can I do with the whole seed?

Using whole seed, you can make breakfast porridge. I have successfully used the stovetop, my pressure cooker, and a crock-pot for this.

teff (3)s

teff-porridge-with-hazelnuts-and-raspberries photo by vsimon

Crock-pot Teff Porridge

serves 3-4                    metric measures

1/2 cup teff seeds         90 grams

1 1/2 cup water           360 ml

Put seeds and water into a 4 cup crock pot. Cook for 3 hours. Stir porridge and add another cup of water (240 ml) if you prefer it thinner.

Cooked teff firms up a lot when it cools. Your leftovers will solidify. Simply break it up, stir, and press with the back of a spoon to remove the little lumps. You will end up with the lovely results pictured.

You could easily double this recipe, and it might take longer to cook. Crock-pots come in many sizes and some have high and low settings. Be sure to do a test run in your crock-pot during the day, before leaving it alone overnight. If it works, you can have a hearty breakfast waiting for you when you stumble out of bed.

You can also make teff polenta, a different color polenta. Serve right away for soft polenta. Or spread into a shallow pan and allow to firm. Then slice and grill for a crispy crust. Corn polenta is still my favorite though.

What can I do with the flour?

There are more ways to use teff flour than the whole seeds. Sometimes, I like to play off the dark color and pair teff with bright or light colored ingredients. Picture peach crunch with teff and sliced almond topping. Tempting, yes?

teff peach crunch5a

teff-peach-crunch photo by vsimon

But teff is also perfect for naturally dark treats like gingerbread or mock rye bread.

And I think teff and cocoa also make a great combo, say in a waffle. Or a peanut butter filled chocolate muffin. What is not better with chocolate, right?

See some recipes you may like using  just teff flour, no combos of flours.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Date Nut Coffee Quick Bread

How do you use teff seeds or flour? What recipes would you like?

A little rant

I love experimenting with unusual ingredients. And using whole grains. I do not love having to mail order ingredients, even though I know this is a great service for getting gluten free ingredients. The local grocery store used to carry teff flour. But they have expanded the gluten free aisle and added the new Betty Crocker mixes.

My fears are being realized. More room for mainstream gluten free mixes (read refined starches, poor nutrition). Less room for healthy whole grains.

Recipe development using healthy ingredients is what I do. And, teaching others how to cook this way. You can make tempting treats with whole grain flours. Please ask your grocer to carry wholegrain gluten free flours, not just mixes. Vote with your purchases. The store will carry what sells.

teff (2a)

teff-seeds photo by vsimon

Growing teff

We planted several gluten free grains in our garden, including teff. It is growing slowly, and looks like slender arching blades of grass. Now the leaves are two to three feet long. It is too soon to tell if we will get seeds. We will keep you posted this fall.

Click here for an update our garden teff.