Healthy Cheesecake

So it’s January now and I am not pleased with this whole going-back-to-work thing. Can we all go on strike until the boss of the world agrees to that four-hour work week philosophy?

Healthy cheesecake: what a ho-hum name for something so fabulous. Sorry I didn't give it a flashier name.

Healthy cheesecake: what a ho-hum name for something so fabulous. But seriously, if I’d called it “Cottage Cheese Cheesecake, would even one of you click on this? That’s what I thought.

Also, I’m not super pleased that my vacation diet of cookies-all-day had to stop in favor of spinach and lentils and lettuce. Alas, necessary evils.

Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

I was very pleased, however, to find that the grocery store next to my kickboxing gym, has a clearance dairy section! Erik, who dutifully tosses gallons of milk the second they hit the expiration date and is probably allergic to the phrase “clearance dairy,” would most likely have backed away slowly had he been present to witness my enthusiastic rifling through bins of 50% off, near-expired flavored yogurt cups. The kind I would never buy normally, but for .50 cents? Um, yes I want apple pie-flavored yogurt! And then I eat it on the way home–no yogurt, no expiration, no problem.

(On a side note: One thing I learned from last year’s detox is that restricting foods does not do anything for me except make me binge on all the things afterwards. So back to the world’s best motto: all things in moderation [minus meat]. Dairy included.)

Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

Even though I’ve talked about my aversion to cottage cheese before, I couldn’t pass up a $2 tub of cottage cheese and bought it with lasagna in mind. While following the LiveFit program, I re-discovered cottage cheese as a fantastically efficient, low-cal way to get protein—even though I practically have to plug my nose to eat it plain. Then I remembered cheesecake.

I tried another cottage cheese cheesecake recipe before perfecting this one and while my roommate and I were both a fan of the flavor of the first cheesecake, she kept trying to describe the texture and kept coming up with phrases like “soggy,” “crumbly,” and “kind of like tres leches—not grainy, but…sort of curdled, maybe?”

Ultimate Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

The first recipe used cottage cheese, yogurt, honey, eggs and vanilla. A lot of liquid seeped out of the pan when it chilled overnight and it deflated like no one’s business into a soggy pile of (delicious) curds. I theorized it was a victim of too much liquid and in the next version, swapped the honey for sugar, reduced the amount of egg and added a little flour to help set the cheesecake and soak up any excess liquid.

Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

It made all the difference. This cheesecake is completely creamy and not at all soggy. Lighter than full-fat cheesecake, it doesn’t completely wreck you after eating. Full disclosure: I never liked cheesecake until I tried chocolate cheesecake in which the chocolate drowned out the cheese flavor. I’ve since acquired a taste for the weird sweet-tang of regular cheesecake, but it’s often just too creamy for me and I almost always prefer healthier cheesecakes to the full-fat creations. You might be all: that is not cheesecake. But I say: it’s delicious and I’m eating it for breakfast. 

Healthy Cheesecake // The Pancake Princess

Because look at the nutrition stats! I probably shouldn’t mention this, but you could eat half of this entire cheesecake for about 240 calories (and get about 20g of protein in the process). But sharing will make you feel like a hero!

Healthy Cheesecake

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4-6 slices

Serving Size: 1/4 recipe

Calories per serving: 118

Fat per serving: 2.4g (10.3g protein)

This lusciously creamy cheesecake is incredibly low in calories and high in protein--about 120 calories and 10g of protein in a large slice! Topped with yogurt, strawberries and granola, it's breakfast-worthy and my absolute favorite way to eat cottage cheese.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese (I used 2%)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2.5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ tablespoon lemon zest

  • Optional: yogurt, strawberries, and granola for topping.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 6-inch springform pan. Alternatively, you can double this recipe and use a larger pan, like an 8 or 9-inch cake pan.

Combine cottage cheese and yogurt in a blender and process until very smooth (I do this first to ensure the cottage cheese mixture is completely lump-free). Add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth and combined.

Pour into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the top pulls away from the pan and looks smooth and solid. The entire thing should be slightly jiggly, but not sloshy.

Let cool completely before refrigerating for several hours or overnight.

Spread or sprinkle on desired toppings before serving. I topped mine with some homemade granola and a really quick strawberry compote--just a few frozen strawberries brought to a boil in a small saucepan with a tiny splash of water, a tiny bit of a water + cornstarch mixture, and a pinch of sugar. If I'd had red wine, I would have added that instead of water. Quick and easy!

Notes

This recipe is easily doubled for baking in a larger pan.

Adapted from here.

http://www.thepancakeprincess.com/2014/01/08/healthy-cheesecake/

And now for more cheesecake recipes…(I used to hate cheesecake! HOW do I have so many cheesecake recipes?! #questionsthatneedanswers)

The only way to up your cheesecake breakfast game is to put it in crepes:

japanesecheesecakecrepes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My other way favorite way to eat cheesecake is in a cake. With apples. And brown butter crumbs:

momofukuapplepiecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With cookie dough stuffed inside? Can’t go wrong:

healthiercookiedoughcheesecake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed inside cookies? Also can’t go wrong:

chocolatechipcheesecakebars

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75 thoughts on “Healthy Cheesecake

  1. Vanessa M.

    Very tasty! I doubled the recipe and replaced the sugar with a banana, and also replaced the flour with a scoop of banana flavored protein powder (because I apparently ran out of flour at some point). Very good! I’ll definitely be keeping this for my regular arsenal of high protein treats!

    Reply
  2. PeekaBoo

    Hi Erika,
    Thank you so much for this recipe. My husband loves cheese cake,but I don’t like it much.But this recipe changed everything..Now even I love Cheesecake.Thank you..My husband showered me with compliments after eating just one slice:-) I have a question. Can I substitute sugar with stevia?
    Thank you once again..

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Aww thank you so much for the sweet comment! I was the same way–I didn’t like cheesecake for the longest time! Glad we have both seen the light 😉

      About your question, I’ve never tried making this with stevia. I generally steer away from sugar substitutes because I find that it increases my sugar cravings, but if you do try it out, please comment back and let other readers know how it turns out! I would imagine it wouldn’t affect the cheesecake too much, but I know stevia is sweeter than sugar and I’m not sure what the substitution ratio would look like. Good luck and thanks again for the comment!

      Reply
  3. Robin

    Ok, so I definitely need more reassurance on a few things before I make it. First, we just started 21 Day Fix and my husband’s birthday is coming up soon. Cheesecake is his fave. I wanted to make him one that was healthy so he wouldn’t feel guilty– and ruin his progress. He does not like cottage cheese. Or sour cream. Or anything white and creamy EXCEPT cheesecake. Is the texture of this different than that of a “regular” cheesecake? Can I double it or triple it since we will likely have a crowd over here? I don’t want everyone to be grossed out, expecting yummy cheesecake! It sounds like an awesome recipe and the feedback is good–most people are just commenting that they will try it… I’m looking for descriptive reviews from those who have. THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Robin! I’m so sorry for the delay; I’ve been out of the country and away from my computer! I have a feeling I might be too late to help with your question, but I just wanted to say for future reference that this cheesecake, while pretty similar in my eyes to regular cheesecake, is not exactly the same texture as super-creamy traditional cheesecake. It is a little more grainy and slightly more watery, if that makes sense. I would be a little wary of doubling/tripling the recipe and baking it in a larger pan since the baking time may differ–however, if you did this with success, please let me know! I hope you found a successful recipe for your husband’s birthday and good luck with the 21 Day Fix!!

      Reply
      1. Robin

        Hey Erika! Ok, I doubled the recipe and cooked it for about 45 minutes if I remember correctly. I pretty much cooked it until it was no longer jiggly or swooshy! And it worked! It was real thin, but I drizzled melted chocolate on top to hide some of the brown cooked spots, as well as the wrinkles that formed. I also made a crust out of dates and pecans. It was the FIRST cheesecake I have ever made and it got rave reviews from all of my not-so-healthy-eating family! I stuck some chocolate covered strawberries on top to jazz it up a bit, since it was a birthday cheesecake. I’m grateful for the recipe and will definitely make it again!

        Reply
        1. erika Post author

          Ahh so glad to hear it worked out for you, Robin! That is brilliant to top it with chocolate AND chocolate-covered strawberries and make such a wholesome crust!! I’m THRILLED to hear it got rave reviews (you just made my day!) and thanks for the fantastic decorating ideas–I’m going to have to put some of those to work in the future 😉

          Reply
  4. Grace

    Just made this and ate a piece before letting it cool all the way- I couldn’t resist- it so good!
    A few places were I strayed from the directions:
    – didn’t have a 6 inch springform pan, but my loaf pan worked fine with the 30 minute cook time. Sprayed the sides with non-stick spray first and then coated the pan with a few tablespoons of graham cracker crumbs.
    -used plain non-fat greek yogurt and fat-free cottage cheese- worked out fine in terms of texture
    -skipped the sugar,vanilla, and orange zest and used a few sweetener packets and a quick pour of maple syrup instead. Added a little over the recommended amount of flour to compensate for the additional liquid.
    Turned out great! I will be making this again and again, and will certainly be eating it for breakfast. Looking forward to experimenting with the recipe more :)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Love it!! Thanks for reporting back Grace–I’ll have to try your tweaks in the near future! Please feel free to come back and share your future experiments–I’d love to hear about them!!

      Reply
  5. Alyssa Eldredge

    Thanks for the recipe! I’ve tried a few of this kind of recipe, and yours worked out excellently. My sister-in-law has a stomach condition where she can’t eat fat or fiber, but this recipe works for her–and cheesecake is one of her favorite foods! :)

    Two comments I had:
    1. I recommend washing the cottage cheese in cold water. The dressing they use–especially in fat-free versions–tends to have a lot of whey in it, which gives it that wet-paper-towel flavor (ick!).
    2. I’d recommend using a flavorful Greek yogurt, like Zoi. The tanginess is going to come almost entirely from the yogurt, and if you get something bland like Chobani, your cake isn’t going to have much flavor.

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Alyssa, this is GREAT advice!!! Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment; definitely going to try both of your tips in the future (I’ve never even heard of Zoi! Excited to try a new fabulous yogurt flavor!)!

      Reply
  6. Verônica

    Thanks for sharing! I wasn’t looking for a healthy cheesecake recipe, I just had to find a cottage cheese recipe because I could only find creamcheese in 6 pounds packages (what would I do with that much?). But this recipe turned out delicious!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      That’s so great to hear that you enjoyed the recipe even though you weren’t exactly looking for a healthy recipe!! (I wouldn’t know what to do with 6 pounds of cream cheese either!) Thanks so much for reporting back, Veronica!

      Reply
  7. Laura

    Hi, This looks amazing!! Do you think I could try a banana as the sweeter instead of sugar and decrease the cheese? Do you think I would need some extra dry ingredients then?
    Thank you :)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Laura! Thanks for the question–unfortunately, I don’t know what would happen if you made those subs. I know the texture would be different but it is possible that adding additional dry ingredients would help. If you try it, please report back and let us know how it works out! :)

      Reply
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  9. Jerry Miller

    Actually, the reason I found this recipe is because I was _specifically_ looking for one like the first (and best) cheesecake I ever had, which especially impressed me at the time, because I wasn’t too keen on cheese in general, _let alone_ cottage cheese! (That was probably 60 years ago, give or take.)

    Reply
  10. sima

    The recepi sounds really healthy.
    I am about to make it. Hope it will come out good. Is for our holiday, shavout.

    Reply
  11. Gabrielle

    Ooh! Thank you for this recipe! I haven’t tried it yet but the reviews have me very excited. I was craving cheesecake but I’m lactose intolerant and cream cheese just doesn’t come lactose free. But cottage cheese and yogurt do! Now, will my husband want to know before or after that it has cottage cheese in it? (He’s not a fan either).

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Yay, so glad to hear it, Gabrielle!! Funny that you should mention being lactose-intolerant because I think I recently developed an intolerance to some dairy–Greek yogurt and feta seem to be the worst offenders so far (very odd). But now I’m curious to try lactose-free cottage cheese and yogurt in this recipe…thanks for the tip and hope you enjoy!!

      Reply
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  13. Barbi

    I have been looking for a cottage cheese cheesecake recipe and this recipe is just the one I’m looking for! I’m wondering though, if I just used all cottage cheese instead of cottage cheese and yogurt, would it be a problem? Why do so many recipes include cottage cheese AND yogurt or cream cheese? There must be a reason…

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Barbi! I’ve always used a combination of the two because Greek yogurt is denser and less watery than cottage cheese, which helps the cheesecake turn out less watery (though it will still leak a bit of liquid after sitting in the fridge). I would be a bit wary to try all cottage cheese, but I could see it working–just with a slightly different texture. Hope that helps!

      Reply
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  15. Ting

    I don’t normally give reviews, but this time i just had to. THIS IS AWESOME. It tasted almost IDENTICAL to the creamy cheesecake i love, with half the decadence! Gonna be my favourite cheesecake to make from now on!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Anna–great question and sorry for the delay! Yes, it’s best to let the cheesecake cool completely before refrigerating since immediately refrigerating a hot cheesecake can trap moisture in the cake and make it soggy. Hope this helps! Let me know how you like the cheesecake!

      Reply
      1. Anna

        I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. It’s both satisfying and healthy, and probably my new favorite breakfast! I love your blog so much.

        Reply
        1. erika Post author

          Anna, I’m so happy to hear that!!! Thanks so much for reporting back–you made my day :) (I’ve also added a note on chilling to the recipe instructions, so thanks for that too! :))

          Reply
          1. Anna

            Just so you know, I have tried three of your recipes since i found your blog a week ago and I thoroughly enjoyed making them and eating them!

            Reply
            1. erika Post author

              Anna!! You have seriously made my day multiple days in a row with your sweet comments <3 I'm so thrilled to hear that!!!! :)))

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  17. Cate @ Chez CateyLou

    There is cottage cheese in here?! I can’t believe it! This looks so delicious, I seriously can’t believe it is healthy! I am having the hardest time breaking my holiday eating habits – this is just the kind of recipe I need!

    Reply
  18. Kelly

    Definitely agree, I’ve been trying to eat healthier lately but have been helping myself to treats when cravings hit in moderation too :) This cheesecake looks fantastic though and I love that you made it healthier and acceptable to eat for breakfast :) Love that!

    Reply
  19. Selena @ thenutritiouskitchen.com

    Oh my goodness this sounds too good to be true! It looks DELICIOUS and I love how you used cottage cheese as a main ingredient. I’ve recently become obsessed with cottage cheese and I feel obligated to try this recipe now :) I need some lightened up desserts after all the holiday sugar I consumed!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Oh my gosh tell me about it. Amazingly, despite all the sugar I consumed, I don’t even feel guilty about eating this. It’s just so much protein and it’s SO GOOD!!

      Reply
  20. Lianna

    Ahh I totally get your excitement at reduced and on sale dairy items at the grocery store (or let’s be real, anything with a half-priced sticker on it). But yoghurts especially greek yoghurt is usually pricier anyways so I’m totally down to pretend the expiry date doesn’t exist and hope I don’t get sick. But I really need to make this healthy cheesecake asap because of the fact that it’s okay/not so bad if I eat the entire cake in one sitting or better yet, have a piece or two for breakfast (brilliant idea!) Your pictures are also gorgeous btw, I’m drooling at the close-ups and I adore stewed strawberries because they remind me of funnel cakes yum! I wish I was your roommate because I would love to taste-test all of your kitchen creations :)

    And Im clearly out of it, because your kickboxing gym? As in you kickbox? That’s pretty badass right there. I’ve never tried it but it seems like a great way to stay in shape!!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Ahaha so glad you understand me! Tell me it’s not bad that I’ve literally had like 2 slices of cheesecake every day this week (breakfast + dessert)…
      …at least I have kickboxing? (It’s SO fun btw–you should try it!!)

      And I wish you were my roommate too because my roommate is unfortunately not really a big cheesecake fan and has not been pulling her weight on all my tester cheesecakes!!

      Reply
  21. cynthia

    I am in LOVE WITH THIS, Erika!!! I used to love cheesecake, but now actually can’t remember the last time I’ve had any because it’s just so rich. (This recent phenom of actually avoiding rich foods makes me feel so old.) Your version sounds like perfection, and I love that you figured out the recipe yourself. I can’t wait to try this! (And PS GORGEOUS photos!)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Lol at least you have the willpower to avoid rich foods!! Better to feel old than fat right? Ha!

      Anyway, thanks :) Hope you like it if you get a chance to try it!

      Reply
      1. cynthia

        HAHAHAhaha “better to feel old than fat” — I just died. That needs to be my mantra. I wouldn’t normally, except I’ve begun to actually feel queasy really easily when I eat heavy foods! I’m like seriously? What happened to the days when there was no such thing as “enough potato chips”? Sigh. 😉

        Reply
  22. Ala

    Honestly, the lumps in cottage cheese remind me of a hostile alien invasion in my fridge–and yes, this coming from a gal who just bought a big tub of it from Trader Joe’s because she wanted to opt for new-year fruit snacking options. This sounds much less sketchy and much more appetizing…thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Haha YES! I used to eat it no problem as a kid but now I think it looks sooo funky. I was doing okay with eating it with fruit as a snack until I tried mixing it with protein powder…and the memory still makes me shudder. Ewewew. Never doing that again!

      Reply
  23. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    I’m heading home in a few days and I’m super sad that once I get home, I’ll have to go back to work (sigh) and must say goodbye to days upon days of eating whatever the heck I wanted. But you’re totally right, moderation is the way to go if we want to stick with healthy eating. I LOVE that you made a cheesecake healthy! This looks amazing, Erika. My taste buds and waistline thank you 😉

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Awwww savor the days!!! Live up your vacation for all of us because we all wish we were still on vacation + eating whatever we want!

      Reply
  24. laurasmess

    Oh, this is so delicious looking Erika! Who cares about the name, definitely not me! I can imagine how light the ingredients would be. Thanks for giving us our cheesecake fix in a healthy version for January. But… uh, those other examples? I might have to try every single cheesecake recipe on your site, just to make sure… you know… that I can give an unbiased review of the healthy one 😉 x

    Reply
  25. The Vegan 8

    Erika, this does look so incredibly light and airy!! I can totally see it as breakfast, oh yeah! :) It doesn’t have much sugar… Is it sweet or just real tangy?
    I glanced at the bodybuilding.com recipe …so glad you adapted it…your version is MUCH cleaner… I can’t stand it when I see ” healthy” recipes on fitness sites where the ingredients are full of chemicals and artificial sweeteners like puddings and jello…please, it’s a chemical wasteland! Your version rocks!! :)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Yeah!! I was so excited so little sugar works in this recipe–it’s just sweet enough in my opinion–not overly so, but not super tangy either (cottage cheese definitely doesn’t have as much tang as cream cheese). Thanks Brandi! :)

      Reply
  26. Katie (The Muffin Myth)

    Damn! This looks amazing! I am a lover of cheesecake in it’s purest form, but this looks like something I could get right on board with. And I’ve got these teeny little single serve springform pans (maybe 3-4 inches) that would be just perfect for this. Also, best before dates on dairy are set with a generous buffer, so you’re all good on the discount dairy. Let your nose be the judge. And I’m totally with you on dietary restrictions causing binging. Planned indulgences are the best for keeping me on track. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Yes–those would be so perfect!! I know a 6-inch springform pan is kind of an usual size to bake with, but that’s just what I had. You could make a bunch of adorable mini cheesecakes!!

      And YAY! So glad I have you as my nutritionist friend to steer me straight :) I am so telling Erik that a certified nutritionist said ^ because he never believes me when I say that the best before dates are just conservative suggestions!

      Reply
  27. Mary Frances

    I’m ready for some structure, so the back-to-real-life doesn’t bother me as much as the back-to-real-food thing. What? Cookies aren’t breakfast food? I would’ve never guessed this had cottage cheese. I personally love the stuff in any form! And I LOVE cheesecake, so a healthy verion is perfection! Your photos and recipe, as usual, are just stunning. P.S. You are so lucky. I would’ve cleaned out clearance dairy. Little yogurt containers are the best (aaaand the most expensive! :)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Ah yes, if we can’t have a four-hour work week, I’d still take a four day work week ANY DAY! (And cheesecake every day, maybe?)

      Reply
  28. Sockmonkeys Kitchen

    I love the way you write!! You’ve always got me smiling by the first paragraph :)
    This delightful cheesecake looks and sounds wonderful! YUMMMMMY!
    PS: favorite quote… “But I say: it’s delicious and I’m eating it for breakfast”
    Amen to that!!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Oh, that’s just the best compliment ever. Thanks so much! :) (I seriously did eat it for breakfast. I’m 2 for 2 right now!)

      Reply

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