Don’t worry, after this long winded rant on cheese there is an actual recipe. It’s a simple but very awesome recipe, 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.
I want less animals to suffer: less cheese = less cows suffer. I know that is a pretty big simplification because I’ve personally known dairy farmers, and I know that 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 “ethical.” That being said, there are numerous large scale dairy farms where the treatment of the animals is less than holy.
I am 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 to talk about how 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. That’s enough for me to consider the overall benefits of eliminating cheese.
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 that I have fairly acne prone skin, I’ve tried altering my diet in many ways (including no dairy) without too many results. So I’m fairly 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 see the effects and learn to reduce if I feel like doing so will have a positive effect.
So there you have it! Dairy free since April 14′ (with the occasional cheat for poutine, c’mon people, I’m human!).
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 absolutely delicious. Even if you eat cheese you should still try this spread anyways, all you need is a few simple ingredients. 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, maximum over night.
STEP 2: Drain the soaked nuts, place in a blender, add water and seasoning.
My 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
- A little black pepper to taste (optional)
STEP 3: Once all your ingredients are in the blender, blend on medium speed for a few minutes. REALLY BLEND ‘ER UP! It should be pulverized!
STEP 4: Scoop out your mixture from the blender and store in a small jar for later use.
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!