Friday, July 4, 2014

July 4 cheesecake: lactose intolerant may be able to enjoy dairy treat

Mini New York cheesecake

Cheesecake can be on your menu for July 4th even if you are lactose intolerant. Researchers have found that lactose intolerant people can tolerate up to one serving of milk, yogurt, cheese or other dairy products in a sitting.

I am one of the estimated 50 million sufferers of lactose intolerance in the U.S. Lactose intolerance is the body’s inability to break down the natural sugar, lactose, found in dairy products. Those of us who do not produce enough of the enzyme lactase come in all shapes, sizes and ethnicities. About eight percent of European Americans have lactose intolerance, about 10 percent of Hispanics and 19.5 percent of African Americans.

Lactose intolerance is not the same as milk allergy. An allergy is triggered by the immune system not the digestive system as with lactose intolerance. Someone with milk allergy must avoid milk and dairy products.

For years, I have avoided milk because that’s what most people believed you had to do to prevent the symptoms of lactose intolerance which include abdominal pain, nausea, bloating, gas, cramps or diarrhea after consuming dairy products. Turns out total avoidance of dairy wasn’t necessary, according to researchers.

Imagine my surprise when a lactose intolerant friend conveyed this information to me. She regularly consumes Greek yogurt to get the beneficial bacteria, calcium and protein. I was dubious until I checked out her information.

Here’s what I found out. Both the National Medical Association and a National Institutes of Health expert panel recommend that lactose intolerant individuals try to keep dairy foods in their diet. Studies show that many can tolerate up to one cup of milk or 12 grams of lactose.

Keep in mind these guidelines are a general rule of thumb. How much you can handle varies from individual to individual. Eating dairy with some other food also increases its odds of being tolerated.

You can start by trying just a little. Here is a list of some dairy foods to try and the amount of lactose they contain per serving.

  • ¾ cup of plain yogurt: 13 grams of lactose
  • ¾ cup of low fat or nonfat Greek yogurt: 4 grams
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese: 3 grams
  • 1 ounce of sharp cheddar cheese or Swiss cheese: less than 1 gram. 

Here’s a recipe with Greek or regular yogurt that you can add to your July 4 picnic menu.

New York Cheesecake recipe ingredients
(Makes 5-6 mini cheesecakes in ramekins or one 7-inch cheesecake)

½ cup almond flour
½ cup pitted dates
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Water as needed

1 cup farmer’s cheese or cottage cheese (low fat)
2 cups non-fat Greek yogurt or regular yogurt
2 tsp. lemon juice
3 T. honey or sweetener of choice
2-3 tsp. unflavored gelatin


Place the almond flour, dates and vanilla in a food processor. Blend until combined. Add 1-2 T. water if needed to make the mixture stickier. Press the dough into a 7-8-inch pie pan, lightly sprayed or oiled. Place in the fridge.

For the filling, process the yogurt, cheese, lemon juice and sweetener in a food processor. Set aside while you prepare the gelatin. Place the gelatin in a small heat-proof mug or cup. Add 3-4 tsp. of water and stir until the gelatin softens.

Place the cup with gelatin in a skillet, filled with ½-inch of water. Heat the skillet with mug on the stove on medium heat. Stir the gelatin until it dissolves. Then, turn off the stove and remove the cup of gelatin from the skillet.

Add the gelatin solution to the filling mixture in the food processor. Blend until mixed.

Pour the filling in the crust-lined pie pan or ramekins if making mini cheesecakes. Refrigerate for one hour to allow the cheesecake to set. Serve topped with berries.

Recipe submitted to:

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