Friday, March 16, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Bites (gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan)

Today we have another guest post from a fellow blogger and friend, Hallie Klecker, who has created an amazingly simple and nutritious "cheesecake" recipe for a mini muffin pan. Hallie has a fabulous cookbook and blog that are both gluten-free, dairy-free, and revolve around whole foods. She tells her story below. ~Ali

I’m so honored to be guest posting here today! I’ve been reading Ali's blog for years, literally. I went through quite a rough patch when I first went gluten- and dairy-free. Sensitivities to these foods left me malnourished and underweight, so in the first few months of eliminating them from my diet, I made significant efforts to gain weight eating nutrient-dense foods. Scouring the web for nutritious recipes, books, and other resources led me to Ali and Tom.

I subscribed by email right away to this blog and found myself checking my inbox eagerly every day, hoping for a new recipe! Over time, as I became healthier and pursued my education in holistic nutrition, I launched my own blog, Daily Bites, to share with others the nourishing food that came out of my kitchen. And just last year, I published my first cookbook, The Pure Kitchen, which contains 100 gluten- and dairy-free recipes designed to keep cooking simple, fresh, and healthy.

Without a doubt, Ali and Tom definitely played a key role in inspiring me to launch both my blog and my book. Although we’ve never met in person (yet...), I like to think that we’re partners in spreading the delicious message of gluten-free, whole food nutrition.

This recipe for Strawberry “Cheesecake” Bites is the perfect example of a “whole food dessert.” I’m trying to develop more and more recipes these days with an emphasis on simple, easy-to-find ingredients that are as natural as possible. This means no gluten-free starches, xanthan or guar gum, or crazy specialty products that cost a fortune to ship. Just natural, whole foods straight from nature.

Strawberry “Cheesecake” Bites

Although there is no dairy in this recipe, it could have fooled me. The creamy cheesecake layer, made from soaked cashews and fresh berries, has just enough tanginess to mimic regular cheesecake. I used cacao nibs and shredded coconut as pretty toppings for the bites pictured in this post, but feel free to use chopped pistachios, grated dark chocolate, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Yield: 20

For the crusts:
1 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Strawberry Filling:
3/4 cup raw cashews, covered with water and soaked at room temperature for 3-4 hours
1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil, melted
4 drops liquid stevia

Optional, for garnish:
Raw cacao nibs
Shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 20 cups of a mini muffin pan with mini paper liners.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, process the oats, almonds, and salt until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Add the applesauce, honey, and vanilla and process to form a dough. Press heaping teaspoons of the dough into the bottoms of the lined muffin cups. Bake for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Wipe out the food processor. Drain the cashews and add them to the bowl of the food processor along with the strawberries, honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the coconut oil and stevia and process to combine.

Divide the strawberry mixture among the lined muffin cups, smoothing the tops of the cheesecakes with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle with cacao nibs or shredded coconut, if using. Place the pan in the freezer and freeze until the cheesecakes are firm, 1 to 2 hours. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

A few other tasty gluten-free bites you might enjoy:

   Sunny Currant Freezer Treats

For more information on whole foods gluten-free and dairy-free living, visit Hallie's Facebook Page, Twitter Page, or her Blog!

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About the Author

Alissa Segersten holds a Bachelor's of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University. She is the founder of Whole Life Nutrition, the mother of five children, a whole foods cooking instructor, professional recipe developer, and cookbook author. She is passionate about helping others find a diet that will truly nourish them, and offers elimination diet recipes, healthy gluten-free recipes, paleo and vegan recipes, as well as tips for feeding your family a nourishing, whole foods diet. Alissa is the author of two very popular gluten-free, whole foods cookbooks and guidebooks: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. She is also the co-author of The Elimination Diet book. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


  1. These look delightful. And they're bite-sized, so I won't be inclined to eat a huge slice. Maybe. I might just eat three of these!

  2. These look awesome! Adding it to the menu for the weekend :) Thanks!

  3. Fantastic recipe! I love the fact there's no refined sugar in it, and it's gluten- and dairy-free. I am cutting out sugar and this looks like a great way to tame my sweet tooth. Some people cannot eat cashews, though. Is there a substitute for those? Thanks!

  4. I love the recipes, but I have one suggestion. When you make a print friendly version, skip the story and make the recipe print all on one page please. Thanks!

  5. Valerie - Cashews make raw desserts "creamy" - the only other thing that I think might work would be soaked macadamia nuts. Maybe Hallie could weigh in on this too. :)

    Anon - Once on the "print friendly page" you can "click to delete" any parts of the story you'd like. Just run the curser over it - it is really simple. I think it is nice to have this option because sometimes parts of the story are pertinent to the recipe.

  6. Hi,

    I have recently learned that studies have been done and oats have a protein in them that is very similar to the gliaden in wheat as is proving to be a problem for those with Celiac or gluten intolerance. This was posted on another nutritionist's blog I follow.

    I just wanted to point this out so you could potentially research and let your readers know so they are aware.



  7. Alicia - Thanks, we are well aware of this. In fact we even briefly covered it in our book, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. The protein in oats you are referring to is called avenin. My twin boys and husband, Tom can not tolerate oats (gluten-free oats) at all.

  8. Valerie: Ali is right on! I would try soaked macadamia nuts next if cashews are out.

    Alicia: Thanks for pointing this out, Alicia. I know many people cannot tolerate gluten-free oats. If you need to substitute the oats in this crust, I would try 1 cup of almond flour or another nut meal.

  9. Cute. Little. Adorable. Three adjectives I would use to describe these Strawberry Cheesecake Bites. My kind of dessert! I love that they consist of simple, honest-to-goodness real food. Beautiful job Hallie! Thanks for hosting Hallie on your blog, Allie!

  10. Great idea Hallie on using almond meal in place of the oats! I was actually thinking that would work too. So would doing a raw nut/date crust and skip the baking part. Lots of options for those who can't tolerate oats! :)

  11. My mouth is watering! These sound delightful. I love Hallie's description about teaming up with Ali and Tom to spread the good word. It's so true! Thanks for all you all do :)

  12. These are just my kind of dessert! They look terrific--and so perfect for the warm weather we're having lately (both of which make me very happy!) :)

  13. Totally amazing looking, Hallie! Love that you, Tom, Ali, and so many others are sharing the guidance on getting/staying healthy. :-)


  14. Ellen: Thanks!

    Maggie: Spreading the word one cheesecake bite at a time, right? :)

    Ricki: Yes! These are definitely a great warm-weather treat.

    Shirley: Thanks! I feel blessed to be a part of this community. :)

  15. I love me a little bite of cheesecake! (Admittedly, the only cheesecake I've eaten is has had dairy and sugar but I'd love to learn to make it myself.) The picture won me over. :)

  16. Yet another fantastic recipe. Thank you! Do you think grapeseed oil would sub for the coconut oil? I just recently learned that my DD's system cannot tolerate coconut. Thank you!

    1. I kmow tjis commemt is kind of old, but just in case. I have successfully substituted palm oil for coconut oil in Ali's recipes, so my guess is is might work for this. I have found is it even a little stiffer which is nice for things like frosting......

  17. This is a great idea!! Thanks for the post. I am going to try it totally raw... I'll let you know! Maybe use pistachios or walnuts pulverized instead of the oats... I make a raw cheese cake, but I hadn't thought to do little mini bites... really beautiful.

  18. Hi Ali:

    This does look delicious! Any idea how it would work with regular-sized tins?

    Have a nice weekend,

  19. Cashew cheesecake is my favorite dessert right now! Love it in this mini-version. Too cute.

  20. Sara: I think this would work fine in standard size muffin tins. You may just need to freeze/refrigerate them for a bit longer to get the filling to solidify. And obviously, it will make fewer tarts because they will be larger. Enjoy!! :)

  21. I don't normally read the comments but I'm glad I did this time! We have been gluten-free for three months and my son is still having gluten-like symptoms. He's been eating a lot of gluten-free oats for breakfast and now I'm seeing that there could be a link.

    Thank you! I love your blog!

  22. Anon - sorry, my anonymous comments often don't come through to my email so don't get published right away. Grapeseed oil will not work in place of coconut oil. Coconut oil solidifies at cool temps which is what will firm up the filling....grapeseed oil stays liquid at cool temps.

    Liz - You can thank Alicia for adding that here! :) I had not realized until she left the comment that I haven't covered oat reactions on the blog. I must do that now. :)

    Hopefully your son will start seeing some improvements being oat-free. Also make sure to check for gluten grains in lentils and millet before cooking them! We did a video on gluten cross contamination in lentils last fall. Look in the recipe index for it. :)

  23. Would just like to put my vote in for you both to offer your cookbooks on kindle!

    Do you have any posts on diagnosing allergies? I have asked a couple of questions which have gone un-answered. My issue is that we are missionaries and traveling-'and being fed my many sweet people, which makes it really hard to do an elimination diet, and testing is pricey. So I'm trying to research my symptoms and trying to get info from people who have walked this path before me.

  24. these look delicious and although i'm not a big fan of nuts, i'm always willing to try a new yummy recipe. my only comment is that it probably shouldn't be labeled vegan because of the honey.

  25. look delish, but probably shouldn't be labeled as vegan because of the honey. have you tried using agave nectar instead?

  26. These look so cute! They are pretty great for a cute little desert to take to a work party!

  27. thanks! tried and succeeded! always looking for quick and easy recipes. i posted your recipe with a link to yours - i tweaked it a little to fit my needs. here is my link!

  28. Yum! They look so pretty too! Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  29. These look great, however, honey is not vegan, perhaps agave nectar could be used instead?

  30. This was such a great recipe! My boys and I had lots of fun making these AND I feel good about them eating as many as they want! The only thing I had to sub was no applesauce, so I used an egg and ran out of honey so in the cream sauce I used coconut sugar and with the strawberries I added blueberries and peaches as well! Sooooooo tasty and easy and they last in the freezer as ice-cream treats as well! Also served them to a a group of 20 people and they consumed them fast!

  31. I made just the filling the other night...I ran out of time to make the crusts. Subbed agave for the honey because I was out and then poured the filling into little ramekins and chilled. It was a great, fast, easy, dessert! My kids thought it was ice cream and it made me so happy that they were eating something healthy!

    I plan to make them again but with an oat-free crust for passover next week. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  32. These look amazing. At first glance they remind me of a frozen strawberry yogurt pie my mom used to make with a graham cracker crust. I can't wait to try to improv your crust with my mom's filling! Yum! Thanks so much, and I love your blog, and book!

  33. These were amazing, definitely making them again!


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Thanks and Happy Cooking! ~Ali :)