A few months ago I decided to do the Whole 30. But really, I decided to do a Whole 5. If you don’t know about Whole 30, the gist is that it’s a 30-day elimination diet, wherein you don’t eat things that cause inflammation, including dairy, grains, legumes, processed sugar and maybe a few other things. Then at the end of the 30 days, you’re supposed to slowly add back in those items, which should help you find out if you have particular sensitivities. They can’t stress enough the importance of doing the entire 30 days, and they basically say you shouldn’t even bother doing just one week, because that’s not enough time for the toxins or whatever to leave your body.
So all that being said, I decided to try it for 5 days. I wasn’t actually going for inflammation reduction or anything like that, I just wanted a short week-long reset. Forced focus on eating whole foods and vegetables. I sort of hated it, for a few reasons, including weird indigestion issues.
I did, however, see one major benefit, even after only a few days: the puffiness under my eyes completely went away! I feel vulnerable talking about this, because it’s truly my biggest insecurity. I’m not talking like, minor didn’t sleep well puffiness that I see people complain about. My situation is different. I’ve always had it, that puffiness that looks like I knocked back one too many the night before or like I’m 20 years older than I am. Circles that I edit out of photos of myself. Circles that mean I will never take a “no makeup selfie.” It doesn’t matter how much water I drink or how tired I am or whether or not I’m hung over or took a Claritin. I’ve spent hundreds, probably thousands, of dollars on under-eye creams and gels and masks and concealers, to no avail… since my teens and early 20s. I’ve pretty much chalked it up to genetics (which by the way, I’ve done tons of research on… and it’s very real. PSA: please don’t just assume people are tired or sick if they have under-eye bags or circles or darkness or puffiness, because genetics could be a major reason… definitely don’t ask if they’re tired or sick. Ugh. Can't even tell you how many times...). I still think part of my problem is genetics / it’s not a problem, it’s literally just my face… but since my Whole 5 experiment I’m hopeful I can reduce a bit of puffiness through diet. (“There’s nuttin’ the mattuh with my face, I got character!” Name that movie. It’s one of my all-time favorites).
So since that little Whole 5 win, I’ve been looking into what food sensitivities can cause this, and a big one that came up is dairy. Obviously just going in and getting an allergy test would be the quickest, easiest solution, but instead I decided to try a series of ill-planned elimination diets. Ill-planned because A: I’m not doing it right… you’re supposed to cut everything out and then add it back in? I think? IDK, I’m the girl who did Whole 5. B: the same week I decided to take a dairy break, I ordered 4 pints of Jeni’s ice cream because FLASH SALE, so now that’s tempting me. Fortunately/unfortunately, I don’t think my problem is dairy. I’ve been off for a couple weeks and have noticed zero changes since cutting the cheese (ah! Haha. Ha.), and I noticed in just 3 days before. So, back to the drawing board / maybe I should just go get tested (is it sugar? Legumes? Is it gluten… please don’t say it’s gluten. If you know anything about this particular issue, let me know!!).
But, the actual point of this post is that while off dairy, I made a raw, cashew-based cheesecake-like situation. I don’t even really care about cheesecake that much. I would even venture to guess that I sometimes go multiple years between bites of cheesecake. But suddenly my dairy elimination had me craving creamy treats. So I combined two recipes that I’ve drooled over since I first saw them: the almost raw caramel slice from Oh Lady Cakes, and the cashew dream cake from My New Roots. So, we have a chewy nut-date crust, a tangy vanilla “cheesecake” layer, a light coconutty date-caramel layer, and some chocolate sauce.
Raw Layered Cashew "Cheesecake"
I wasn't planning on blogging this recipe, and I only took one pic, with my phone, but it was so easy to make and delish that I want to share. I won’t repost their full recipes here, because you can and should go to their sites for the clues. But here’s what I did, and I highly recommend you do the same, because this dessert is so, so good, whether or not you eat dairy.
Crust: I followed My New Roots recipe for the nut-date crust, but used a combo of pistachios and walnuts. I would even recommend adding a pinch of cinnamon for a baklava-type flavor. I’m not sure how she filled up a 7-inch springform, because for me, this was the perfect amount for a tiny 4.5x4.5 ish casserole dish (with deep-ish sides). I lined the dish with parchment paper (because I was fresh out of plastic wrap) so that I could pop the whole cake out when it was ready. Worked like a charm.
Filling: I soaked 1.5 cups of cashews (overnight). Then I used half of them in each layer.
For the vanilla cheesecake layer, I just halved the rest of the ingredients (so, you’ll be blending up ¾ cup soaked cashews, juice of 1 lemon, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and 2 tbsp + 2 tsp of both melted coconut oil and honey). I scooped this filling onto the crust.
For the date caramel layer, I followed the instructions, with these exceptions: I used full-fat coconut milk instead of almond milk, and I used half the amount of dates. Not sure if my dates were bigger or not, but dates, while au-natural, still have a ton of sugar, and that seemed excessive to me (also, I didn’t even have that many dates), and it turned out perfect, so use your own judgement there. More dates might have made the consistency a bit firmer, but after a night in the freezer, it made no difference to me. I poured this layer (which was a bit runnier than the first) on top of the cheesecake layer. Then I covered the whole thing, and froze overnight.
For the chocolate drizzle, I followed the instructions in the Oh Lady Cakes recipe, but used super-dark cocoa powder, and also added a smidge of nut butter for funzies. I poured it on right when I pulled the cake out of the freezer, and because of the coconut oil, it hardened up to a nice little solid shell. I topped it with coconut flakes, let it sit for a few minutes and room temp, and then devoured slice by slice.