December for us tends to be one big social whirl, and whilst we are often out-and-about a fair bit, we also like to host gatherings at ours, and of course, the majority of these are based around delicious food and drink. Whilst all this socialising is fun, it’s quite often not so kind on the waistline, so I’m always looking for healthier (yet delicious) dishes that don’t compromise on taste.
Especially when it comes to puddings and desserts!
I also have a family member who is diabetic and really needs to watch their sugar levels, so anything that helps with this too around the festive period is always a bonus.
I was challenged by SPLENDA® to make a tasty recipe using their low calorie sweetener. What I didn’t know is that SPLENDA® is made with sucralose, which means that, unlike other low-calorie sweeteners, it’s heat stable up to 232 °C so it can easily be used as a replacement for table sugar in most cakes and bakes! Having never used SPLENDA® for cooking before, I was excited to see what delicious dessert I could rustle up, and decided to make a Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake with Cranberry Coulis <drools>.
You will need for the Cheesecake:
- 1/2 tsp sunflower oil for greasing
- 175g reduced fat digestive biscuits, crushed
- 3 tbsp runny honey
- 250g Ricotta cheese
- 200g low fat cream cheese
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 level tbsp SPLENDA® Granulated
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 3 level tbsp skimmed milk
- 2 level tbsp cocoa powder
You will need for the cranberry coulis:
- 375g cranberries
- 6 level tbsp SPLENDA® Granulated
- 2 tbsp water
Nutritional Information (typical values per serving):
Energy (cal) 329 Fat (g) 21.9 Sat Fat (g) Carbs (g) 12.2g Sugar (g) 26.8 Salt (g) 0.7
- Start by pre-heating the oven to 170c and lining the base of a 20cm (8 inch) spring-form tin with non-stick baking parchment, and brush the tin lightly with oil.
- Combine the crushed biscuits and runny honey. Press firmly into the base of the tin and a little way up the sides. Chill until required.
- In a large bowl beat together the Ricotta cheese, cream cheese and eggs until smooth. Gently stir in the SPLENDA® Granulated.
- Pour 3/4 of the mixture into a separate bowl and add the lemon zest. Stir until combined and pour into the cake tin. Set this aside for now.
- Warm the milk over a low heat, once warm remove from the heat and stir in the cocoa until combined. Beat the combined milk and cocoa into the remaining cheesecake mixture.
- Next, pour the cocoa cheesecake mixture into the centre of the plain mixture in the cake tin, and using a skewer or sharp knife, make swirling movements in figure of eight patterns until the mixture has a marbled appearance.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden and set. Put to one side to cool, or chill before serving.
Method (Cranberry Coulis):
- Gently heat the cranberries in a pan with 2 tablespoons of water, for about 5 minutes or until the juices run.
- Push through a sieve and stir in the SPLENDA® Granulated.
- Serve warm or cold with the cheesecake.
And there you have it- a delicious cheesecake that means you can enjoy the sweet life without the compromise!
After serving this up to Adam and friends the other night, they were REALLY impressed and had no idea that it contained SPLENDA® as opposed to sugar, as well as using much healthier ingredients overall.
A big thumbs up here, and I’ll be looking to make this again for our Boxing Day gathering too!
If like me, you love food and baking, you’ll probably look forward to this time of year, but there’s always that niggle in the back of your head that says “hmm you’re not eating as healthily as usual right now, Freeman!”. So I’m always looking for ways the keep things a bit more balanced at a tricky time of year diet-wise.
No one wants to pile on the pounds whilst partying!
Consultant dietitian, Helen Bond, explains that “on average people gain between one and five lbs (0.5-2.5kg) over the Christmas period. And, you only need to take in 500 additional calories (kcals) a day over five weeks to see the scales register an extra 5lbs”
With this in mind, here are Helen’s Top 10 Tips for Negotiating Festive Feasting:
1. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast. It’s easy to miss this important meal, or give in and indulge in fatty croissants to ease that Christmas party hangover. But eating a good breakfast will help kick-start your metabolism andkeep you feeling full, making it easier to ignore the inevitable chocolates lying around.
2. Get creative with your advent calendar. Even big kids love opening those little advent calendar doors – but, enjoying 25 days of chocolaty goodness will do your waistline no favours! A little chocolate Xmas character provides around 26 kcals, 1.5g fat, 2.8g sugar – even more if they are truffle or alcoholic filled – that’s an extra 650 kcals, 37.5g fat and 70g sugar over 25 days. Why not get creative with your countdown to Christmas, so you’ve got a daily treat, without the daily guilt.
3. Love seasonal fruit and veg. With the abundance of festive food, it can be easy to forget the basics of eating healthily and achieving the (at least) 5-a-day recommendation. I like to pile the veg on my plate first, rather than last.
4. Make time for exercise. However well you plan, life is going to get hectic over the festive period, so schedule your 2.5 hours of moderate intensity exercise into your week now. Exercise is also a fabulous stress buster, as it releases endorphins, making you feel happier and calmer.
5. Don’t skip meals. If you’re going to the office party straight after work, or you’ve got a dinner date with friends, don’t ditch lunch for fear of overdoing your daily calorie intake. You’ll be famished and hungry people tend to make bad food decisions.
6. Try not to burn the candle at both ends. Burning the festive candle at both ends, with parties during the week and weekend hosting duties, can also affect your waistline. Too little sleep can reduce the level of the appetite-controlling hormone leptin and increase the hormone ghrelin, telling the brain you need to eat – and not always the right healthy food choices.
7. Rethink your tea breaks. Cut cutting down on the ‘white stuff’ is a tall order, especially around Christmas. It appears in so many of the traditional festive favourites, that it’s near impossible to keep track of how much you’re eating. An easy win is to rethink your tea breaks; instead of adding sugar to your tea, swap to a low-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA®. If you drink four cups of tea a day with two teaspoons (8g) of sugar in each cup – that adds up to 128 kcals.Your sweet tea also tots up to nearly one 1kg bag of sugar over the 25 days of December and 3,200 kcals! You, and your Xmas shopping could be a whole lot lighter for a simple sweet swap!
8. Treat sweets as treats. The constant supply of treats from guests and salty savoury snacks at work can be too tempting to avoid. Keep healthier seasonal snacks, like clementines, to hand; a medium clementine has just 25 kcals and will provide you 31% of your daily needs for immune boosting vitamin C and 1g of gut healthy fibre.
9. Wise-up to the buffet. Faced with a buffet, resist the temptation to start filling your plate at one end of the table and continuing to add to it until you reach the other. Before you pick up the plate (and always take the smallest one!), pause for a moment and then prioritise healthy choices; smoked salmon, slices of lean ham and vegetable crudités. Now, step away.
10. Keep in mind portion size. Most of us are over-generous with serving sizes at Christmas and it’s a fact that the bigger your tableware, the more you’ll fill it. Research shows that simply downsizing from a 12 to 10-inch plate could help you eat roughly 22% fewer calories, and you’ll not feel like you are missing out.
So have a Merry Christmas, and enjoy the #SplendaSweetLife! Visit www.splenda.co.uk/recipes for more delicious recipe inspiration and baking tips!
*This post is in collaboration with SPLENDA®.