Charlotte’s Sustainable Eats #1: (Almost) Zero-waste Vegan Freezer Cheesecake

Have you tried to bake during the summer? If so, your oven probably heated your apartment to an uncomfortable 80 degrees, which left you with an environmental dilemma: To cool or not to cool.

To avoid the hot/cool wars, I decided to focus on cooling down my already hot days by trying out a new recipe for vegan, no-bake cheesecake that I found on VitaCost.

After experimenting with a few hacks and adding some environmental touches, I successfully created this VitaCost recipe with relatively little fuss.

 

(Almost) Zero-waste Vegan Freezer Cheesecake

 

What You’ll Need:

WARNING: Most of these items will be coming from bulk bins. To really make your recipe zero waste, consider purchasing reusable produce bags or reusing the produce bags you get for free from the store.

For the Shell:

I found almond meal in the bulk bins! This was great because not only did I avoid the packaging waste, but I also only had to buy the 2 cups required for this recipe, preventing future food waste because who knows the next time I’ll need almond meal flour.

2 cups almond meal flour:


Unfortunately, my bulk bin store didn’t sell bulk dates, but most do, so look before you buy! I was able to find dates in a recyclable container rather than a plastic bag, though. Also, pit the dates yourself. It’s easy and lowers the amount of energy that goes into making your food.

8 oz. dates, pitted:

 

For the Filling:

Bulk bin for the win! Quick hack: I soaked them for about 30 minutes, while I did the other steps

⅓ cup raw cashews, soaked as needed:


Bulk!

⅔ cup roasted almonds, salted:


Bulk!

½ tsp. cinnamon:


This is a hard one. I haven’t figured out how to get coconut milk in bulk, but you can be an informed shopper and buy it in glass or in a recyclable container. Be sure to check the back for the recycling symbol!

1 cup coconut milk, full fat:
 


At the best stores you can find honey in bulk. Don't have a honey bulk "bin"? Try buying yours in a glass and reuse the container when you're done!

¼ cup honey, adjust to taste:


Grind your own at a local Whole Foods! Don’t forget to bring your own jar and have an employee weigh it at the checkout first.

½ cup almond butter:


What’s the most natural way to get lemon juice? Buy a lemon! And don’t forget to compost the peel. Don’t have access to compost? Infuse your bulk honey with that lemon or use the peel to sanitize your bamboo cutting board.

⅛ cup lemon juice:


I got salt in the bulk bins and refilled my old salt shaker.

Salt, to taste:

 

Extras:

Yes, even these can be found in bulk bins

Melted chocolate (for topping):

 


Bulk! By now, you should be pushing the “buy” button for those reusable produce bags.

Roasted almonds, crushed:


To grease the pan. Anything you can find in bulk will do. Be sure to bring your own glass container.

Oil (i.e. olive, grapeseed…):

 

Directions (from VitaCost)

  1. After pitting dates, soak them in warm water for 5 – 10 minutes.

  2. In a food processor, combine softened dates and almond meal until smooth.

  3. Lightly grease a cupcake pan with oil. Press the almond-date mixture evenly into all 12 cups and spread it up to the sides. Place pan in the freezer to let the shell sit for as long as possible. I froze mine for about 30 minutes, while I did the other steps. This step sounds harder than it is. Trust me!

  4. In a high-speed blender, combine all filling ingredients. Blend for 2-3 minutes, until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed.

  5. Spoon cheesecake mixture into each shell, just to the top edge. Cover with parchment paper and chill in the freezer for about 4-5 hours or overnight. I froze mine for about 6 hours and they were perfect!

  6. Serve cold with a drizzle of chocolate and crushed almonds.

 

 

Quick tip: You should store these in the freezer and defrost them for about 2-3 minutes before serving. If you make the mistake of thinking that they should be in the fridge like regular cheesecake, you’ll end up with almond butter.

 

Enjoy your Sustainable Eats!

 

P.S. Did you try to make these for yourself at home? Tell me how it went and any tips you have to share!

Charlotte Will