Tis the season for endless treats. There is no escaping them – at work, a holiday potlatch, a thoughtful edible gift. A small amount of [ideally natural] sugar enjoyed in the company of friends and loved ones is an important part of social relationships and our food culture. We know that when we do have something sweet, balancing it out with a good source of protein or healthy fat can help dampen the effect on our blood glucose (sugar) levels. This helps us to avoid the post-dessert sugar spikes and corresponding drops and for this, I am sharing my new favourite go-to healthy dessert. Labna, or yogurt cheese, is high in protein and good fats and makes the base for this two-ingredient gluten-free cheesecake. Labna is simple to make at home and what this high-protein dessert lacks in difficulty, it makes up for in taste.
“Combining a good source of protein or healthy fats with your carbohydrates or sugars helps to stabilize blood glucose levels and decrease the post-dessert sugar spikes, and corresponding drops. Try adding Greek yogurt, nuts or seeds, or nut butters to your desserts for stable blood glucose levels.”
Labna is traditionally eaten in Middle Eastern countries, often served with flatbread for breakfast with some aromatic olive oil. Some of my favourite memories of travelling in the Middle East are experiencing the breakfast ritual sitting on the cool stone floor on early desert mornings and slathering this yogurt spread onto freshly baked bread. Labna is made by straining yogurt and can be easily made at home. If the thought of messing around with cheesecloth sounds daunting, Labna can also be purchased at specialty Middle Eastern or Mediterranean Stores. The owner of Fig Deli here in Victoria assured me that topping Labna with preserved cherries makes the best gluten-free cheesecake around – and he is right!
To make your own Labna for this gluten-free cheesecake be sure to use a good quality yogurt. The only yogurt I use and recommend is Tree Island Greek yogurt. Tree Island yogurt is made right here on Vancouver Island, but it is also available all across the lower mainland of BC and as far away as specialty stores in Ontario and Quebec. They use grass-fed dairy which is naturally higher in omega-3 fatty acids. The yogurt is naturally creamy due to its 6.5% M.F. and does not use any funky ingredients like thickeners, gelatin, or protein powder.
So what is the second ingredient? This Labna gluten-free cheesecake is topped with Homemade Honey Sweetened Strawberry Jam, gifted by a talented friend. It also tastes great with Wild Blackberry Jam, as well as preserved cherries. I know that technically it is not a two-ingredient cheesecake, but at this time of year who doesn’t have a fridge full of homemade jams? The combination of the thick and creamy Tree Island homemade Labna, topped with the sticky sweet homemade jam makes this simple gluten-free cheesecake an easy bet for your next holiday gathering.
Two-Ingredient Gluten-Free Cheesecake
- Cut 3 pieces of cheesecloth, about 12x12 inches, and layer onto a strainer.
- Add the Greek yogurt, and place the strainer over a rimmed dish or shallow bowl to catch the liquid whey.
- Leave in the fridge for at least 12 hours, or up to 24. I find that 12 hours works just fine for the consistency, but generally how the days work when I am ready to serve it at least 18 hours have gone by.
- Top it with your favourite homemade jam. It is ready to serve!
- You can reuse the cheesecloth. Simply rinse it well under running water to remove any chunks of yogurt. I like to then put the cheesecloth in a bowl and cover it with boiling water to help sterilize it. Dry well before storing.
Make it a one-ingredient cheesecake: Use Tree Islands flavoured yogurts. I love their Chai Latte or Orange Blossom and Cardamon.
Rachel Dickens, The Conscious Dietitian, is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She graduated with her Masters in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2010 from Griffith University. She strives to provide evidence-based nutrition information with a focus on plant-based nutrition, and share some of her favourite seasonal recipes and sustainable eating tips.