Tag Archives: Healthy dessert


Rhubarb cake to die for

Nothing in the garden shouts out “spring” like rhubarb.  Rhubarb is a perennial that’s hardy in most climates as long as it receives a yearly dose of compost and is kept watered regularly. Just do these two things and your rhubarb will produce for years with an occasionally splitting of the roots when the plant gets too dense. Then you can divide them and plant them elsewhere in your garden or give some to your neighbors.

Rhubarb is really a vegetable but in a dessert it’s disguised as a fruit. It’s high in potassium and fiber and low in carbs. One cup provides 10% of the recommended daily allowance of potassium and fiber for a healthy adult and contains only 5 gs of carbs.  Potassium supports heart health, while Rhubarb nutritionfiber supports your gut health, lowers cholesterol and promotes weight loss.

I’ve always made strawberry rhubarb crisp with my rhubarb, but this year I came across a wonderful rhubarb cake recipe that I modified (of course) to boost protein, increase fiber and therefore lower that natural blood sugar rise that can lead to diabetes, weight gain, and of course, that after dinner nap.

This recipe will take you only 20 minutes to make and is moist and delicious. I reduced the flour by half a cup and substituted a half cup of potato starch, a resistant starch that can help lower the post-meal blood sugars  as well as make cakes even moister – especially if you follow a gluten-free diet and use gluten-free flour in your recipes. I also use oat flour instead of white or whole wheat mainly because it’s higher in cholesterol lowering soluble fiber and because it’s close to white, unlike whole wheat. Moreover, it concerns me how much wheat has been modified to yield a hardier grain, but one that I think isn’t as tolerated by our bodies as well.

Rhubarb Cake

1 cup white sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups oat flour (I reduce to 1 1/2 cups and add 1/2 cup potato starch by Bob’s Red Mill)
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 tsp almond extract
3 cups diced (1/4″ size pieces if you can)

1/4 cup water, to thin batter if you are using a whole grain flour

Crumb Topping

1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick cold butter
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp nutmeg


Grease and flour a 9 X 13 glass pan. Preheat oven to 350. Cut up rhubarb into 1/4″ pieces.
In large mixing bowl, put in all the top 8 ingredients and mix well with a blender, for about 3 minutes. With a spoon, mix in rhubarb until evenly dispersed and pour in casserole dish. Mix the crumb ingredients until pea sized and sprinkle over the cake mixture. Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

Pumpkin Cheesecake Makeover

low-fat pumpkin cheesecake

Low-fat Pumpkin Cheesecake

It’s that time of year again when the average American gains between 7 and 10 pounds over the holidays.  And most people do not lose that with their New Year’s resolutions, they just continue to add to it each year.

Eating over the holidays can be approached several different ways if you really want to enjoy it without gaining the weight.  You can either use your favorite recipes being mindful of portions and “banking” your calories by eating lighter and fewer high calorie foods earlier in the day.  Or you can eat that dessert you wouldn’t normally eat and walk off those 400 calories which would take an hour at a 4 mph clip (Here is a great calculator on calories burned).  Or you can do a little of both by modifying a recipe to lower the calories and go for a shorter walk to burn off the fewer calories.

It’s Not Just About Calories

There is a science to food.  I’ve seen people not lose weight eating only 800 calories a day.  I’ve seen people reduce their calories from fat to a very unhealthy level and still not lose weight. The truth is, it’s really a matter of getting the right combination of carbs, proteins and fats.  And there also seems to be a genetic component to weight loss some having more success with a  low carb diet, and others on  a low-fat diet.  The Diabetes Prevention Program by the CDC focuses on total daily fat grams as you can see on page 28.

Physiologically we do know that rapidly rising blood sugars from eating large portions of carbs stimulates extra insulin production.  The presence of this extra insulin causes our bodies to store the extra calories as fat.  Insulin is a fat storage hormone.  Furthermore, there is a link between having high blood insulin levels and cancer.

So eating in a way that slows down and avoids high blood sugars is a great goal, along with keeping calories under control by not eating large amounts of fats.  Fats per gram, have more than twice the amount of calories than protein and carbs.  But what if you can have your delicious dessert, made in a healthier way lowering carbs and calories and adding protein and fiber, and NOT compromise taste!

Pumpkin Cheesecake Makeover

I made a healthier version of your typical 3 packages of “regular cream cheese cheesecake” and had our good friends with a discerning palate and belief in traditional recipes, taste it.  They were surprised at how good this tasted and how creamy the cheesecake turned out.  The key to my recipe is adding 3 tbsp of whole wheat flour to soak up the extra moisture from the  substitutions and stabilize the consistency.  You will be surprised at the calories saved by using my recipe, especially the dramatic decrease in saturated fat from 14 gms – which is more than the daily limit the American Heart Association recommends for a 2000 calorie diet – down to 5 gms.

Healthy Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe Makeover

Below are the ingredients for each of the pumpkin cheesecakes, the traditional recipe first and then my recipe.

Traditional Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 packages cream cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp each of nutmeg and ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin

This is made in a 10″ spring-form pan and makes 12 servings with each serving containing:  395 calories, 27 gms of total fat, 14 gms saturated fat, 33 gms carbs, 1.4 gms fiber and 7 gms of protein.

My Pumpkin Cheesecake Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bran flakes
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 8 oz  2% fat cottage cheese
  • 8 oz plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 tsp each of nutmeg and ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 15 oz canned pumpkin

My version, made also in a spring-form pan, serves 12, but each serving has:  261 calories, 9 gms total fat with only 5 gms saturated fat, 31 gms of carbs, 3 gms of fiber and 10 gms of protein.

Because the “cheese” part in my recipe is either low-fat or fat-free, the total grams of fat is greatly reduced which accounts for the 130 fewer calories in my cheesecake.  Now that’s a makeover!  Click here for the full recipe.

Recipe Makeovers Means Being Open-Minded

It can be a little overwhelming re-examining grandma’s recipe for fear she might turnover in her grave.   Being willing to adjust recipes, especially if there is little change in taste and only slightly in texture, is really about not joining grandma just yet.  There are even recipe analyzer tools out there where you can see how your modifications improve a favorite recipe.  Being open to adjusting recipes or even creating your own gives amazing payback – called staying healthy to see your grand-kids grow up.