Today, amid the chaos of trying to write up a presentation/seminar paper, the library opened its doors to the on-campus medical aid practitioners to conduct some general checks on the staff. This included sugar level tests, cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure. It all happened rather quickly, but apart from my chronic blood pressure, everything else was shiny. SHINY! As in, the thing I’ve been dreading to do (check my sugar levels) came out so utterly normal that the lady didn’t give it another thought, but inside I was squealing and power-punching the sky. She started to say that she thought I may be a bit underweight, but a quick BMI calculation made her retract that statement (under my baleful gaze, because seriously). It means that the path I’m on is leading me far, far away from the days of diabetes scares. Initially it was hard work letting go of old habits (I’m now talking here of when I transitioned to vegetarianism a few years ago and had to learn to cut down on bread or other necessary elements which had previously constituted the backbone of my diet), but in more recent times living health-fully and consciously all the time means that I can eat a slice of rye bread on occasion without having an internal crisis of sorts. What is magical about all this is that it is almost effortless to choose what foods to eat and how to portion them, so much so that when I do stray and indulge, I am aware of what I am doing and why I am doing it. In recent times or over the past year or so I’ve slowly been challenging myself on the front of binge eating in moments of stress or unhappiness.
Perhaps binge is the wrong word, because it’s not like I break out three slabs of Lindt 90% and go wild melting them over a tower or wholewheat bread studded with sliced bananas and nuts. It’s the mental aspect of sad = must food/angry = must food.This is what sustained my obesity through all my years til recently; when one is isolated and isolates yourself in turn there is no action that justifies silence as much as overeating, or so it appeared to me. It gave my silence substance; shape and form and there was a tangible action through which I could start to work through my emotions. Mostly it ended in tearfully snuffling up bowls of ice-cream or angrily toasting half a loaf of more of cheese sandwiches. I could go on, you see, because this is what constituted my private life for many a year. What I eventually realized is that if I allowed my body the means to energy, that energy would sustain me and allow me to lift myself up out of that pit. Food as energy, not as emotion, is part of a long road I’ve had to negotiate.
That still doesn’t mean a lack of treats, enjoyed for their own pleasure, however. Oh no. In fact, I have never experienced such joy at creating and sharing and enjoying all manner of sweets (and savoury) as I did when I was consuming at least four times the number. This is why I decided to make a cheesecake over the weekend, after being heavily inspired by all the delicious desserts that cropped up over the blogosphere – volcano cakes, cheesecakes, truffles and puddings. Man-thing and I don’t celebrate Valentines, because it’s rather a strange festivity, so essentially, V-day is nothing more than a central point around which orbits a vast array of food porn, or at least that’s how my brain zoomed in on it. After much deliberation I decided to test out the famed cashew cheesecake with coffee and fruity elements. I must admit that I haven’t had a cheesecake in many a year, so I have no idea what it’s supposed to taste like. Of course, raw cheesecake is a whole other world altogether, but oh man, the way the layers tasted in the blender, I don’t care what the standard is – this is deliciousness!
Serves 8 – 10
- 1 cup prunes, soaked for 15 or so minutes (pitted! Or you can use dried dates, apricots or raisins)
- 1/2 cup oats
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
- 2 peaches, peeled (use your peels in a smoothie!)
- 1/4 cup steamed beet
- 1/4 strong decaf (or normal) coffee
- 1 TBSP coconut oil
- 1 TBSP cacao
- 1 TBSP agave
- 1 TBSP lemon juice
- Blend your crust ingredients til they naturally form together into a ball in the food processor.
- Place them in a baking pan lined with foil (hanging over the sides so you can lift it out later OR, better yet, a small spring-form pan 20cm or smaller) and press down with the back of a wet spoon (or wet fingers), otherwise they will stick everywhere and be a royal pain.
- Blend all filling ingredients (except the beet) until smooth (as in smooth – I always get nervous running my processor too long but the results when you overcome that twitchiness are mesmerizing – I was eating spoonfuls of it “to test/taste” before I realized it was becoming a problem (wouldn’t have any filling left for the cake!)).
- Pour out 3/4 of the filling over your base, smoothing it out with a spatula.
- Blend the rest with your beet. Pour the beet layer over the top and smooth it out. You can decorate it or add choc chips or whatever, but it’s grand just as is.
- I would suggest keeping the cheesecake in the freezer and putting it in the fridge 20 minutes before you want to eat it – if you leave it too long in the fridge it will become squishy, which is not bad (in fact, delicious), but I equally love the cool crispness with less refrigeration.
YUM! Since going vegan I haven’t had a cappucino or latte or any such weird drink involving coffee and something more, but this cheesecake is that decadence embodied. When I lived in Italy it was an endless parade of creamy caffeinated drinks caught street-side amid the bustle of fur coats or the clack of heels against cobbled stones, and the combination of texture and taste, even if today I wouldn’t touch dairy, is still something that works wonders on the tongue. Man-thing isn’t too crazy about it, but that’s because he doesn’t like prunes, and doesn’t even drink coffee (if you can imagine such a thing!). All the more for me >:)