Delectable Raspberry Cheesecake

Good morning everyone!

 

So, it’s been a very eventful week this side of my world. The day before University started up I was doing some Yoga in the morning and ended up very seriously & severely injuring my neck. So now here I am, bed-ridden for the week with an acute facet joint neck sprain/strain. The joys. BUT, on the up side I am sufficiently doped up on strong pain killers, effective muscle relaxants that make me feel like I’m floating on cloud 109 and the wonderful anti-inflammatories that are helping my body calm down and enter into deep REST-MODE.

Usually I’m not big on taking conventional medicine at ALL. But, through various life experiences I’ve realized that, although I believe Western medicine is overused and often abused (and is often used to simply mask and treat the symptom without uncovering the root cause of the ailment), it does have its place. And the place it’s got in my life right now is just wonderful: it’s easing my pain, allowing me to relax and has actually been teaching me a LOT.

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Excuse me while I intersperse this blog post with photos of this delicious Raspberry cheesecake which I am all too chuffed about ;)

For example, the other night I was slightly hesitant about taking the prescribed muscle relaxant pill. However, I ended up taking it because of the state I was in. Low and behold it was one of the best nights of my life. Once they started to kick in, I felt like my entire body started to melt into calmness. Any and all tension that I feel I had been holding in my body for what felt like my whole life, dissipated with a slow and steady softness. What fascinated me the most though, was that not only was there a very physical relaxation and letting go that occurred, but there was a very deep mental and energetic releasing that happened, too. I felt such an immense sense of, “oh, this (injury) totally has its’ place in my journey, all is well, life is actually so dang beautiful and just … JOY”. I felt an overwhelming sense of “OKAY-NESS” and for someone who regularly deals with major anxiety and a sever lack of ability to “just chill man” this was a VERY welcomed state to move into.  

Later that night, I consequently went on to have one of my best ever food experiences ... EVER. It consisted of me rummaging around in the kitchen at 10PM in a high-haze and then eventually settling on: a chai latte made with soy milk and sweet molasses and a freshly baked ciabatta peanut butter and Young-berry jam sandwich. This, to date, was probably one of the best food experiences of my life. Deceptively simple, but so deeply satisfying. Yes, it was likely exacerbated by the drugs I was on, but I feel like the mental clarity, spaciousness and freedom and total deep physical & mental relaxation I was experiencing allowed food to be just the most glorious thing ever in that moment. I was gob-smacked. I thought to myself: wow is this how people feel in their bodies all the time when they aren’t like me and get tense and anxious at the drop of a hat? It really was an eye-opening experience. I realized that if it’s wasn’t for Yoga & Meditation I would not be a functional human being. It also made me realize that besides Yoga & meditation, I really need to learn how to let go and just BE more. I need to just connect to the simple pleasures & joys of life more (and I need to not turn this into a chore or my next “mission”, too!). I want to welcome this state of being into my life more frequently and naturally. In that moment the clarity of, "oh wow, this is what life can be like if I just decide not to stress so much" was just piercing. 

 

So, in a very roundabout way, I feel so immensely grateful for this experience because it’s afforded me the precious gift of: STILLNESS. This is a lesson I feel we all need to learn and experience fully because it is in this stillness – this place where we are not constantly navigating external stimuli or the internal monkey-mind chatter that true clarity, understanding, love & compassion can be re-connected to and cultivated. This particular lesson came about after I returned back home from the doctor and was feeling quite down, mopey and sorry for myself. I was just starting to feel more balanced and like myself again after a very intense, stressful & taxing term at University and then I had to go ahead and have this happen.

BUT THEN,

I then changed my whole attitude in a single moment and said to myself: STOP IT. Instead of complaining and moping about, make this a time of healing. You’ve been asking for more healing self-nurturing time and this is the Universe literally having your back and giving you what you have asked for. So embrace it: rest. read. be still. meditate more. And go within. So, that is exactly what I’ve been doing the last few days. I’ve been meditating heaps which has consequently led me to my next big lesson:

 

MEDITATE MORE. This experience really has taught me that I really do need to incorporate more meditation into my life. It is the cornerstone for my ability to stay calm & balanced, and will therefore allow me to truly engage with life more abundantly and fully. So, I’ve decided that for 1 month I am going to wake up that little bit earlier and start every single day off with a meditation. Minimum of 15 minutes. In the grand scheme of things that is NOT AT ALL a lot of time. But it sets your whole day and life up for mindful choices, mindful and conscious interactions, deep healing and a greater understanding of yourself which can only ever serve you and those around you more richly. Who’s with me? I figured it usually takes one month to develop a habit, so I will start now and do it for a month and then see what transpires after the month. 

 

Another little nugget of wisdom this experience has granted me is that it has greatly expanded my reference point of what it means to truly not feel not stressed. This means that now when I am back on my feet and in the day-to-day busy-ness I will remember this reference point of feeling total relaxation and I hope that this will be a potent pointer/reminder that I need not be this stressed right now. Yes, stressful situations may arise, but I need not internalize them to the point of emotional and mental paralysis. Stress is just NOT a conducive or effective state to be stuck in. Yes, a certain degree of stress can propel you forward into action and allow you to get things done. But, if you are prone to anxiety and a disposition of already being a stress bunny, then added stress does nothing but imbalance you more and make you a non-functional human being which is what I’ve been experiencing for the last few months.

 

Bottom line: learn to not take life and yourself so seriously. Relax. Let go. Do the best you can, but be soft and tender with yourself. You are doing a fantastic job and right now, in this moment, you are whole and MORE THAN ENOUGH.

 

Which now leads me to this divine cheesecake recipe. So I was fortunate enough to be sent some of this Tofutti vegan cream cheese in exchange for a recipe & a review. So immediately, I thought hmmm … what scrumptious thing can I concoct using this creamy, delicious, cream cheese? Also, can we just take a moment to say: HOLY GUAVAS. South Africa is finally getting with the vegan program a bit. There are more vegan options popping up everywhere! From little cafes, to restaurants to grocery stores! I am so excited by this. So, if you want to get your hands on some of this delicious Tofutti cream cheese which comes in a plain flavor or a garlic & chives-type flavor head on over to Food Lovers’ Market – they have got your vegan back! This product is SO fab. I've been loving it: slathered on some toast with jam (if using the plain cream cheese) or the garlic cream cheese with some fresh sprouts and thinly sliced cucumber & basil. hmmm ...

Now, go have a break and treat yo self to this delectable vegan treat!

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Ingredients:

 

Crust:

·      ½ cup buckwheat flour (or normal flour if you don’t want the recipe to be gluten-free)

·      1 cup oat flour (if you don’t have oat flour simply blend 1 cup of quick cook oats in a high speed blender until a fine powder/flour is formed)

·      ¼ cup extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil

·      ½ cup mixed nuts, roasted (I used pecans & nuts)

·      ¼ cup sweet molasses (sweet molasses)

·      ½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt

 

 

Filling:

·      1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed & drained

·      1 tub of Tofutti vegan cream cheese

·      ½ tin full fat coconut milk

·      ½ block silken tofu

·      ½ big lemon, juiced (5 tablespoons)

·      ½ heaped teaspoon of lemon zest

·      1 ½ - 2 teaspoons of liquid stevia extract

·      ¼ cup of sweet molasses/honey/syrup/etc. (if using molasses make sure to use sweet molasses – the bitter molasses has a very different flavor and is not good for in this recipe!)

·      2 tablespoons of buckwheat flour (if you want to keep this gluten-free or normal flour if it need not be gluten free)

·      2 tablespoons corn starch

·      Big pinch of salt

·      1/3 cup of your favorite jam (this is for topping once the cheesecake is cooked and out of the oven: we used naturally sweetened Raspberry jam!)

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METHOD:

1.     Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a food processor blend the roasted nuts until they resemble a fine flour. Now add the oat flour, nut "flour", buckwheat flour, cinnamon and salt together. Mix well. Mix together the olive oil & molasses and then add this to the dry ingredients and mix together until a dough forms. It should feel like damp sea sand in your hands.

2.     Press this dough into the base of your spring-form baking pan/cake tin that has been greased with coconut or olive oil and once the oven has reached temperature, place into the oven for 10 minutes to pre-bake. Then take it out as you continue with the filling.

3.     In a blender place all of the filling ingredients (except for the jam) and blend until smoooooth. Now place all of the filling ingredients into the cake tin/pan on top of the par-cooked cheesecake base and place into the oven for 35-37 minutes. Take out and let it cool.

4.     To prepare the jam glaze simply take the jam and place into a bowl and loosen it up with about 1-2 tablespoons of warm water. Then pour evenly over the baked cheesecake to serve. I also loved serving it with a big dollop of coconut yoghurt or coconut cream.

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