Monday, June 10, 2013

Makeover Monday: Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

I am officially on summer break today!  So hopefully you will get to hear more from me for a while.  I know you are excited!  I think that the recipe I am going to share with you today is a great way to kick off summer.    It's time to put away the rich, heavy food that got us through the dreary winter (and what turned out to be a largely dreary spring) and turn to some lighter, cooler recipes.  Take, for instance, blueberry cheesecake bars.  They have a delicious, pecan-spiked crust, a creamy cheesecake layer, and they are topped with sweet blueberries.  Yum!

These are perfect for the time of the year when it's not so hot out that you don't mind turning on the oven for a while, but it's warm enough that you also don't mind eating a dessert out of the refrigerator.  Add the facts that it includes seasonal fruit, is totally delectable, and is lightened up to help you fit into that swimsuit you just pulled out of storage, and you have yourself a pretty fantastic dessert!

I got my inspiration for these blueberry cheesecake bars from a pin on Pinterest.  The pin was for cheesecake bars and said it was a Weight Watchers recipe.  I'm not on Weight Watchers and don't really know more about it than the average American who watches any television and sees their  5 bazillion commercials, but I was really expecting something that would blow my socks off with its creative healthfulness.  When I actually checked out the recipe, I was not impressed.  Basically the only thing in this recipe that was a calorie saver was that it had reduced fat cream cheese.  I knew I could do better than that, so I got to it.

There were a few things I did that were pretty standard for me when lightening up a recipe.  First of all, I used Splenda instead of some of the sugar and I used a trans-fat free margarine instead of butter.  And to up the fiber content, I used whole wheat flour for the crust.  This was already something I could feel better about eating.

Now, don't be mad about this next part.  The original recipe called for chocolate instead of blueberries.  I know that chocolate is a magical substance that makes the world go around for most people.  But I thought that if I was really serious about cutting calories in this dessert that swapping a sweet, delicious fruit for sweet, delicious chocolate would go a long way.  And it does!  How many calories can you save by doing that?  Let's do the math (just because it's summer doesn't mean we can't still learn!).  1 cup of chocolate chips has about 1,120 calories.  Whoa Mama!.  1 cup of blueberries has about 85 calories.  If we get out our calculators we will see that that's a difference of 1,035 calories.  I'll give you a second to pick your jaw up off the floor.  

I cut my pan of blueberry cheesecake bars into 9 pieces, because I am an adult human being and when I have a dessert I want an adult human-sized piece.  So by using blueberries instead of chocolate chips, I had already saved 111 calories per bar.  And they are still super delicious.  I say it was totally worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  

Now, if you wise up and make yourself a batch of these yummy treats as directed, you might notice that yours look a little different than mine.  Mine have a crumb topping.  I omitted the topping in my written version because I thought that having a crust and a crumb topping didn't allow the cheesecake to stand out.  So for your version I cut out some of the unnecessary flour, which saves even more calories and lets the blueberry cheesecake be the star.

I loved these blueberry cheesecake bars and I loved that I didn't have to beat myself up for enjoying them.  I think with the changes I made, these are now actually worthy of being a Weight Watchers recipe, while still being a worthy start to a delicious summer!

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
1/4 cup margarine
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat white flour
1 (8 oz) package reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup Splenda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Beat margarine and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the walnuts and flour; mix well.  Press into the bottom of an 8x8" square pan.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Add the egg; mix well.
Spread cream cheese mixture over crust.  Top with blueberries.
Bake for 20 minutes, until firm in middle.  Cool before serving.  Cut into 9 bars.

Recipe adapted from Weight Watchers

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