It is amazing for me to look back and see how drastically my life has changed since my first post on this blog. I rang in 2012 miserably sick, unable to work and extremely worried about the future. At the time, I had no knowledge of the important role that food would play in my healing journey. This holiday season has been very special to me because of its contrast with the last. My family has come in waves throughout the season to visit. We have shared many celebrations and relaxing days together, and for once my health has not been the main topic of our dinner conversation. I am grateful to have to opportunity to host my family and not have that experience leave me needing a week of recovery.
During this year, I changed my diet very slowly from Vegan to Autoimmune Paleo. It did not happen in one fell swoop. First, I went gluten-free when I found out I had Celiac disease. I decided not to be vegan anymore and started eating eggs for a couple of months, then fish. I skipped poultry and went straight for lamb, then beef. I then found out I was allergic to soy and didn’t tolerate most beans and non-gluten grains. So I started the Paleo diet. Then I started eating organ meats and drinking bone broth. I started to react to eggs, and then nightshades, so I went on the Autoimmune Protocol.
Then I started feeling good, really good. I hung out in that place for a little bit, kind of wondering if it was too good to be true. I tried reintroducing most of the foods not on the protocol and found out that I could only tolerate certain nuts and seeds in small quantities. I have been eating this way since the summer and have no desire to go back until it is clear to me that my body can tolerate those foods.
Which brings me to this cake. Although I have been off sugar for months, I decided I wanted to start experimenting with Autoimmune Protocol compatible desserts that I could serve to my family during the holidays. After much trial and error, I came up with this raspberry “cheesecake”. Of course it is dairy-free, along with gluten, grain, soy, nut, seed, refined-sugar and nightshade-free. It has a thick, cookie-like crust and a rich filling that sets up nice and firm as it cools.
Out of everything I have ever baked in my experience on special diets, this is the one item that everyone in my family has loved unanimously. It was so popular the first time around that I made another the following day for the next gathering. Feel free to modify the recipe for other flavors – I have successfully made it with blueberries and have plans to try a citrus version. The only thing you have to be mindful of is not letting the filling get too wet – I carefully toyed with the ratio of ingredients that harden as they cool in order to get the texture to come out cheesecake-like. This recipe takes a little time to make because most of the ingredients are hard at room temperature. I don’t like using the microwave, so before I make the crust I set the jars of coconut oil, coconut butter and raw honey in a pan with hot water. By the time I have made the crust and am ready to make the filling, they have melted and are ready to go. If you aren’t feeding a crowd but still want to make the cake, just slice it up and freeze for a little treat later.
3 cups dates, pitted and soaked for 5 minutes in warm water
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup coconut flour
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups raw honey
1 1/2 cups coconut butter
1 cup coconut oil
5 cups frozen raspberries
6 tablespoons tapioca starch
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh raspberries for garnish
thick coconut flakes for garnish
1. Place the jars of coconut oil, coconut butter and raw honey in a pan with very hot water in order to let them soften.
2. To prepare the crust, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Strain the dates and place in a food processor or high-powered blender with the melted coconut oil. Blend for 30 seconds or so until a chunky paste forms. Be warned you may have to stop and scrape the sides if you are using a blender, and the oil will not completely mix with the dates, but the crust will still turn out fine. Combine the coconut flour, shredded coconut and salt in a bowl. Add the date paste and mix thoroughly. Place the mixture into the bottom of an 8″ spring-form pan, pressing the mixture down evenly. Use a small spatula to clean up the top edge around the sides of the pan, where the filling will meet the crust. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust browns and hardens a little bit. The texture will still be soft until it finishes cooling. Set aside while you make the filling.
3. To make the filling, combine the raw honey, coconut butter, coconut oil, and frozen raspberries in a saucepan on low heat. Stir until the raspberries are no longer frozen and the mixture is warm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender and add the tapioca starch, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on high for about a minute, until completely mixed. Pour carefully into the spring-form pan on top of the crust.
4. Set in the refrigerator undisturbed for at least 12 hours to allow the cake to cool and completely harden. When it is solid, carefully remove the spring-form pan. Decorate the top of the cake with thick flake coconut chips and fresh raspberries.