Food allergies and intolerances are something that is in no short supply in our family. Before, going keto, I have had to be gluten-free for years, due to Celiac Disease. It just makes it that much easier, that keto friendly foods are naturally gluten-free. But, in addition to the allergy I have to gluten, my children have their own unique food allergies and intolerances, that have made cooking and baking more interesting throughout the years. One child is allergic to nuts and soy, another cashews and mangos. Then there is the dairy. As a family we struggle if we over-indulge with dairy. However, if the source is dairy fat, such as items made from heavy cream, we tolerate it more. Aged and hard cheeses wreak less havoc with our digestive tracts than, fresh soft cheeses.
Turns out that we aren’t the only one’s out there that have to adapt keto, to our specific tolerances. So, going to talk a bit about substitutions. You may have noticed that in my recipes I typically have nut or sunflower seed flour, listed in ingredients. Nut allergies are not uncommon, so, I went on the hunt for a low carb alternative to almond, tiger nut, hazelnut, etc. flours. Sunflower seed meal/flour was the best substitute I found for nut flour. I have mentioned previously, that I haven’t found sunflower seed flour as a product anywhere. But, it is very easy to make on your own. I buy raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and use my food processor to grind it into a fine meal, which I call flour. If you don’t have a food processor, a coffee grinder also works, just have to do it in smaller batches.
If you compare Almonds and Sunflower Seeds the Sunflower seeds have a bit fewer net carbs. Almonds come in at about 3 net carbs per ounce, while Sunflower seed have about 2 net carbs per ounce. Personally, I prefer the flavor profile and texture I get from almond flour. But, when family that can’t eat nuts are here, I use the Sunflower seed flour. The difference is pretty subtle, so those that can’t eat nut flours are really not missing out.
So, the other biggie, with keto, is the amount of dairy products used in recipes. Like I mentioned, I can get away with a little, and do better with cream based things. But, I wondered what could work in place of cream cheese? You have noticed that creme fraiche is listed as possible alternatives in some of my recipes. It works pretty well, but can sometimes be difficult to find. It’s great for those recipes that don’t call for a ton of other dairy products. But, I have a favorite cheesecake, that my Mom used to make that calls for quite a bit of dairy. So, I set out to see if I could make one that didn’t push me completely over my dairy limit.
I started reading about something called coconut butter. So, I made some, it might work okay (didn’t try it in the recipe), but I wasn’t happy with the mouth-feel. It lacked that full creaminess that I associate with cream cheese. Not to be defeated, I started playing with the ingredients and came up with a keto coconut cream cheese, which I used to make a keto pineapple cheese cake. Both recipes are below.
The cheesecake is another treat you will either want to cut into smaller portions (I used 3 mini-springform pans, and cut eat cake, in half to equal 6 servings) or plan your carb count for the day to include it. Compared to the recipe I converted, this is a very keto friendly version. Just remember keto-friendly doesn’t always equate to “eat as much as you want, because it is keto.” Fats make us feel full, not carbs. Click on the recipe name to be taken to a printer friendly version.
1/3 cup nut or sunflower seed flour
3/4 tsp xanthan or guar gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup keto friendly sweetener
8 ounces mascarpone, creme fraiche, or keto coconut “cream cheese”
4 Tbsp butter-softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
16 ounces of cream cheese or keto coconut “cream cheese”
1/2 cup butter-softened
1/2 cup keto-friendly sweetener
3/4 mascarpone, creme fraiche, or sour cream
3 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp pineapple extract (may use vanilla or other favorite flavor)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease a medium or 3 small spring-form pans and line bottom with parchment paper.
CRUST: Mix dry ingredients into large bowl and wet ingredients and mix well. Dough will be thick.
Press crust dough into bottom of greased and parchment paper lined spring-form pan. Let rest while preparing filling.
FILLING: In bowl of stand mixer (you can use a hand mixer), beat cream cheese and sweetener until smooth.
Add eggs and butter and beat on low until just combined. Add sour cream, lemon juice and pineapple flavoring; beat until just blended.
Pour filling over crust in spring-form pan. Set pans on baking sheet (must have sides) and add 1/2 cup water to the baking sheet.
Bake for 40-45 minutes or until center is almost set. Be careful not to over bake it. It will not be completely firm.
Cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before removing spring-forms and serving. Decorate with fresh berry puree and a couple of berries.
2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut or nut milk
2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
In blender or food processor, add all the ingredients. Pulse and scrape down sides every 15-20 seconds.
Continue to pulse and scrape until your mixture is well creamed. Then blend on medium-high for 1-2 mins.
Scrape down sides and blend until mostly smooth texture (you may still feel a bit of the coconut fiber, but it should be minimal).
Place in storage bag or container and mold to desired shape.
Refrigerate, use in place of cream cheese.