Recipe: Cashew Cheese Spread

Don’t worry, after this long rant on cheese there is an actual recipe. It’s simple but very awesome, which is prefaced by my thoughts on cheese.

So, why no cheese?

Ok first off, let me start by saying that I LOVE CHEESE. Being a vegetarian is pretty easy but going vegan is really difficult for me. During my vegan challenge, I’ve literally wanted to GORGE on a brick of cheddar, smothered with melted brie topped with goat cheese balls.

I’ve been hearing time after time that cheese is bad for you. This is up for debate, and I’m not here to draw any major conclusions. The reason why I’m opting to reduce my cheesey consumption is two parts ethical, one part health and one part vanity.

Ethics:

I want less animals to suffer: less cheese = less cows suffer. I know that’s a pretty big simplification because I’ve personally known dairy farmers, and I know there are ethical ways to raise goats and cows for milk. In fact, this summer I’d like to do a Quebec cheese trail so that I can feel comfortable eating cheese from farms that I’ve visited in person and deemed more “ethical.” That being said, there are numerous large scale dairy farms where the treatment of the animals is less than holy.

Heath:

I’m a little divided on my position towards dairy from a health perspective. I do think that we probably consume more dairy that we should – lactose intolerance is probably evidence that dairy not conducive to everybody.  Most vegans will quote the China study at this point which proves that casein (dairy protein) causes cancerous tumours in rats. I haven’t read the China study so I can’t draw any conclusions just yet, but cheese does tend to be very high in fat and cholesterol which we all know is bad. Finally, dairy products are supposedly acid forming once they are metabolized which in excess can throw your body’s biochemical balance out of wack. I do notice that I feel a little off when I eat too much cheese but maybe that’s just the psychological effect. Either way, it’s enough for me to consider the overall benefits of eliminating cheese.

Vanity:

I’ve heard time and time again from friends and dermatologists that eliminating dairy from your diet can help with skin conditions such as acne. Being fairly acne prone, I’ve tried altering my diet in many ways (including no dairy) without too many results. So I’m skeptical that it will make a difference but given that this is something that’s bothered me forever, I figured it was really time to buckle down and commit to being dairy free for enough time to really see the effects. I’m aiming for 2 months off the dairy but I will allow for the occasion cheat (for poutine). I don’t think I’ll ever commit to no cheese for life but I can definitely try to learn to reduce if the effect is positive.

So there you have it! Dairy free since April 14′ (with the occasional cheat for poutine, c’mon people, I’m from Québec!).

So how did I do it?

There is absolutely NO WAY for a cheese lover like me to go dairy free without some kind of substitute. My answer: CASHEW CHEESE SPREAD.

No kidding, you absolutely need to make this now! It is so easy and so delicious. Even if you eat cheese you should still try this spread — all you need are a few simple ingredients and within minutes, you’ll have the fattiness of cheese, without the guilt.

How to make cashew cheese?

STEP 1:  Soak 1.5 cups of raw cashew nuts in water for minimum two hours, or over night.

Cashewspread-1

 

STEP 2: Drain the soaked nuts, place in a blender, add water and seasoning.

No fuss seasoning includes:

  • 1.5 cups raw cashews (that you’ve soaked)
  • 1/2 cup water (add a little more water for a milky consistency or a little less for a more spreadable texture)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutrition yeast
  • 1 tbsp of tamari
  • 2/3 tsp garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste (optional)

 

Cashewspread-2

STEP 3:  Blend on medium speed for a few minutes. REALLY BLEND ‘ER UP | It should be pulverized!

Cashewspread-3

STEP 4: Scoop out your mixture from the blender and store in a small jar for later use.

Cashewspread-5

 

What to do with your cashew cheese spread?

Use it anywhere that you’d use sour cream: on tacos, nachos, baked potatoes.

Add to a sandwich or bagel instead of cream cheese.

Use in place of mayo or cream for dips and salad dressings.

Add a little to your tomato pasta to make it a rose.

Let your imagination go wild!

 

 

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