I don’t usually care much for keto baking. I firmly believe that continuing to rely on sweet-tasting foods while trying to maintain a ketogenic diet is defeating the purpose. There’s solid evidence now that consuming diet beverages (artificially sweetened soda pops, etc.) can stimulate an insulin response in the body similar to that produced by sugar. Small amounts of insulin are also released before any sugar enters the bloodstream. This response is known as cephalic phase insulin release. It is triggered by the sight, smell, and taste of food, as well as chewing and swallowing. That’s our body just being its usual wise self. The problem results when there’s actually no sugar coming in. Insulin in the bloodstream will cause blood sugar to drop, so we feel hungry or otherwise crappy and go for something to eat.
One of the main goals of a keto diet and fasting is to keep circulating insulin levels low, particularly when doing keto for cancer treatment. Insulin is a growth factor for cancer, allowing it to access it’s necessary fuel, glucose. But this low level of blood insulin is also necessary for promoting weight loss and fat burning, so it should be the goal of everyone.
Despite that, there’s occasionally reason to use a bit of sweetener for a special dessert. Non-nutritive sweeteners that are in a molecular form that is created by nature (not a lab!) are allowed in low carb and keto diets. The most common of these are stevia leaf extract, monkfruit extract and erythritol (created usually from corn). The lab-built sweeteners should be avoided at all costs – aspartame, sucralose, Ace-sulphame K, Neotame, saccharin.
Ontario has a winter long weekend called Family Day. Most services and stores are closed to allow employees to spend the day with their families. We collected our local family members for a celebratory meal this year on Family Day and I wanted to make a dessert. Since I wasn’t interested in driving into town for supplies, it had to come from what I had on hand. I decided on cheesecake.
I had received a little springform pan for cheesecake when I got the expanded accessories kit for my Instant Pot. So I went looking for keto cheesecake Instant Pot recipes. But they all involved a lot of fussing to make sure that the high water content of the Instant Pot didn’t impact on the cake. I remembered cheesecake as being a pretty simple thing – I have been making a plain New York style cheesecake for years – so I got out my 40 year old recipe card and decided to keto-ize it. Turned out great!
In place of Graham cracker crumbs, I used almond flour. In place of sugar, I used PureVia sweetener, which is maltodextrin and stevia. Any not-too-grainy sweetener would work, I expect. The rest is standard ketogenic diet stuff – full fat cream cheese, full fat sour cream and eggs.
Sandy’s Cheesecake – Keto Version
- Springform pan. Mine was 7 inches, designed for the 6 qt Instant Pot.
- 3/4 cup almond Flour or meal
- 1 tbsp butter soft or melted
- 1 tsp non-nutritive sweetener of choice
- 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 bricks full fat cream cheese 250 ml or 8 oz bricks, room temp
- 4 eggs
- 1/2-3/4 cup non-nutritive sweetener of choice (not grainy)
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup full fat sour cream
- 1 tbsp non-nutritive sweetener of choice
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350F. Using parchment paper and the bottom of your springform pan as template, cut a circle of paper to line the base of the cake pan. Mix together almond flour, butter, 1 tsp sweetener and cinnamon. Mash with a fork until mealy, then press into the bottom of the springform pan . Set aside. In a larger bowl, add cream cheese blocks and soften with a rotary mixer. Add eggs, 1/2-3/4 cup sweetener and 1 tsp vanilla, then blend well until smooth. Bang the bowl down on the countertop a couple of times to release some of the trapped air – this helps the cake to act less like a souffle when cooking. Pour the cheesecake filling over the crust carefully and place the cake pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (always a safe idea with springform pans, in case they leak). Bake for 55 minutes at 350F. Mix the sour cream, remaining 1 tbsp of sweetener and vanilla until smooth. When the cheesecake is done, remove it from the oven, top with the sour cream mixture and smooth it out level. If your cake has risen like a souffle, you might need to wait 3-5 minutes for it to deflate before topping. Return to oven and bake an additional 5 minutes. Allow to cool completely, then store in fridge until time to serve. It can be eaten as is or topped with berries or other keto-compliant toppings such as diet syrups of whipped cream. I like it all by itself…