During my freshman year of college I found out that I have a genetic heart condition that requires me to stay active and eat healthy (nothing that will kill me if I don’t, it just causes a lot of pain). My doctor told me to cut out caffeine and sugar from my diet. Having caffeine taken away from me as a college freshman (when I stayed up until at least 2am every night and often 3 or 4) was difficult. But after two years of back and forth, in May of 2006, I finally settled into my new diet. I didn’t realize it until I started writing this post, but it’s been nearly a decade ago now!
Celebrating my 17th birthday just before I started my freshman year of college in the late summer of 2004. Look at me so blissfully unaware that I’m about to be told I can’t have sugar or caffeine anymore. 😉
People often apologize for eating desserts in front of me, but it honestly doesn’t bother me. It’s been so long that I don’t miss it anymore. Every now and then I’ll have a craving for something sweet and so I’ll either eat fruit or make something with Splenda or Stevia. My preference is Stevia because Splenda upsets my stomach, but Splenda is a cup-to-cup ratio exchange with sugar so it’s much easier to bake with. Stevia takes a lot of guess work. But when you get it right, it’s awesome! 🙂
While I was in college my mom made a point to still make me desserts for my birthday even if they had to be sugar-free. She came up with two winners that I still make from time to time when I’m craving something sweet. And today I’m going to share her Cheesecake Squares recipe that she adapted from Pillsbury (original recipe here).
(No-Sugar-Added) Cheesecake Squares
2 (8oz) cans refrigerated Pillsbury Dough Sheet
2 (8oz) packages fat free cream cheese, softened (this is important!)
1 cup Splenda OR 1/4 cup granulated Stevia (I used Stevia for the squares you see above)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 tsp Splenda or granulated Stevia
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9×13” pan. Press one dough sheet into the bottom of the prepared pan.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together softened cream cheese (if it’s not soft, this is a lot harder to do), 1 cup Splenda or 1/4 cup granulated Stevia, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the dough layer in pan.
3. Unroll the second can of dough and lay on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down. Pour melted butter over the entire pan. Combine the remaining Splenda/Stevia with cinnamon and sprinkle on top.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until top is crisp and golden. Serve hot from the oven or let cool and refrigerate until they easily hold together.
If sugar isn’t a problem for you, you could easily make these with sugar (using the same Splenda measurements). And if you want to try for Stevia – it just takes a little trial and error. Read the instructions on your Stevia to find the appropriate ratio for one cup of sugar. I went with Stevia for the Cheesecake Squares photographed in this post and they turned out wonderfully!
These are delightful. They are incredible straight from the oven as well as after they cool and go in the fridge for a few hours. I usually eat them both ways. One when they initially come out of the oven and then a chilled one the next day. Yum!
Have you tried a dessert like this before?
How would you have reacted as a college freshman to the news that you needed to give up sweets and caffeine? It definitely took me two years of back and forth before I really got it, ha!