Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Healthy Comfort Food - even better than the real thing? Spinach Artichoke Dip and Cheesecake

Sometimes you just need something creamy and comforting, or is that just me? The other day I was having kind of a stressful day and then I found this recipe on and she got it from and it was exactly what I needed

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Yield: About 2.5-3 cups
  • 1 medium sized onion, diced (~2 cups)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 piece bread + 1 tbsp earth balance (processed into crumbs) OR 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 (15oz) can navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups packed fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, stems removed, and chopped
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast (or cheese if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8th tsp dried basil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Add 1 tbsp olive oil into a very large skillet and add in the 2 cups of chopped onion. Cook about 7 minutes on medium heat until onion is translucent.
2a. Meanwhile, in a food processor, process the bread into crumbs with 1 tsp earth balance. Remove and set aside. Omit this step if you use pre-made bread crumbs.
2b. Now process the drained and rinsed navy beans, 1/4 cup water, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 1 tsp kosher salt, basil, and red pepper flakes.
3. Add in minced garlic to skillet and cook for another few minutes on low. Add in your 4 cups of packed spinach and chopped artichoke hearts to the skillet and heat until spinach is wilted over low-medium heat.
4. Add navy bean processed mixture to the skillet and stir until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Stir in 3/4 of the bread crumbs. Pour into an oven safe dish (I used a 4 cup Pyrex dish). Sprinkle on the remaining bread crumbs (and cheese if desired) and cover with foil.
5. Cook, covered, in the oven at 400F for 20 mins. Now remove the foil cover and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes watching closely so as not to burn. Makes 2.5-3 cups. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then serve immediately with sturdy chips and crackers. 

** We ate this warmed up with wheat pitas. E said it was the grossest looking thing she had ever seen but I told her she had to try it. She hid a spoonful in her pita and the chanted to herself "There is nothing in there.. There is nothing in there." As she started chewing I could tell she liked it. She said "Mom, this is actually delicious!" A didn't like it and wanted to spit it out. It was a hit with my husband and me.

** It doesn't taste like the spinach artichoke dip you are thinking of but it is still warm and delicious.

** Nutritional yeast is a yeast grown just for it's nutritional value (hence the name!). Vegans use it a lot to create a sort of cheese flavor and it is a great source of vitamin B12. You can find it in health food stores or buy it online. Store it in your fridge.

My husband gave up refined sugars over 3 years ago (I know, he is amazing) and the one thing he has really missed is cheesecake. So this last Sunday I finally tried a raw cheesecake recipe. I found a bunch of recipes on the sunny raw kitchen blog and here is the one I used with my alterations.

Raw Cashew "Cheesecake"

Crust:2 cup of pecans (I get mine at costco - you can also get them anywhere where they sell bulk nuts)
1/2 cup medjool dates ( I get mine at costco)
a dash of salt (use sea salt)

Process the ingredients in a food processor until they are crumbly and will hold together. Press the crust mixture into the bottom of a spring form pan and set aside. ( I used a round cake pan lined with saran wrap and then once the cheesecake was set I just pulled it out.)

3 cups cashews soaked for a few hours
1/2 - 3/4 cup honey or agave ( I used 1/2 cup agave)

1/2 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup coconut oil (warmed up in dehydrator or in bowl of warm water)
2 " piece of vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla)
1/4 cup of water (or maybe a little more)

Blend everything in a high power blender or food processor until smooth. If using a FP, stop to let it rest a few minutes so as not to stress the motor.

Some of us topped our slices with this raw whip cream:

1 1/2 cups of cashew almond mix - ( I used 1 cup cashews and 1/2 cup almonds)
3/4 cup water
2 Tblsp pure maple syrup
1/ tsp vanilla

** This was soooo good. It was a big hit with everyone. The consistency was divine. The only thing is it doesn't taste like real cheesecake but we all agreed it was still yummy and creamy enough to hit the spot.

** So the moral of the story is you can find healthy alternatives to comfort food. They might not taste exactly the same but they will still be delicious!!


  1. This looks awesome! I need to figure out the food processor thing though. Ben is begging me to make this!

  2. Looks good! We've made some changes in our house in the past month. My wife and I have just discovered the raw lifestyle and it makes a whole lot of sense. Since eating raw for the past 3 weeks, I've lost my last five stubborn pounds.

  3. Heather-
    I love this. Thanks for sharing. I am excited to try some of these things.

  4. Thanks guys! Matt - are you guys totally raw? I don't have the guts to go there.

  5. We're not 100% raw, there's no evidence that 100% is better than around 80%. I'm probably close to 90% raw and my wife is somewhere around 75 or 80% raw. and the kids a little less than that.
    I see you have a blendtec. We LOVE ours!