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Meatless Monday: Vegan cashew cheese

Try a vegan substitute for cheese by blending cashews, water, and yeast, and adding different flavors such as fruit or herbs. Spread it on crackers for snack, or serve as a condiment with dinner. 

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Hunger aside, I invite you to follow my journey over the next 6 months. If you’ve been feeling like you wanted to experiment with eating less meat and more veg, or simply giving up dairy, there might be a nugget of helpful information for you. Maybe learn from my mistakes and triumphs? I know I’ll be doing a lot of learning! Who knows, maybe you are vegan and looking for some tasty ideas or maybe you can even offer some suggestions.

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Beyond The Peel

Cookbook author, France Morissette, and her husband Joshua Sprague believe that healthy food should be uncompromising when it comes to flavor. They creatively explore the world of natural, whole foods, leaving no stone unturned in their quest to create mouth watering, flavor packed, whole food meals. Through stories, photos, recipes and their online show Beyond The Peel TV, they're on a mission to help you eat healthy and enjoy every last bite in the process.

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Even if you still eat meat or have a partner that simply won’t go without, don’t fret. Most of the meals and dishes I’ll be sharing can easily be served with a meat of your choice. I’ll be make pairing suggestions along the way, when they apply.

I used nutritional yeast in this recipe for cashew cheese, but it can be omitted. Don’t feel like you need to buy it just to try this out. However, it does add a cheesy goodness to it. If you do decide to buy some, it makes a fabulous popcorn topping. You can source it online, if you live in a small community with no local organic specialty store. In larger cities you may even be able to purchase it at a regular grocery store if it has a specialty isle, but most specialty organic stores will carry it, too.

First experiment, Vegan Cashew Cheese. I chose to make a herbed version. I used it in a Portobello Steak Sandwich recipe that you see in the photos. The assembly is simple enough. Bake or broil a portobello mushroom drizzled with olive oil for 5-10 minutes. I chose a herb olive oil a friend gave me (thank you Tina, it was delicious) and seasoned it with smoked salt (this gives it a meaty flavor). Serve it on toast, rubbed with fresh garlic, then topped with Herbed Cashew Cheese, sauteed onions, and spinach. (Meat lovers can do this with grilled chicken instead of a mushroom.)

Vegan Cashew Cheese

1 cup raw cashews 

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Water

Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Soak the cashews in 1 cup of water for an hour. Drain the cashews. In a blender, add the cashews, lemon juice and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth adding only enough water to make the cashews creamy but not runny, adding it in 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl. If using herbs, mix any freshly chopped herbs into the cheese using a spoon. Refrigerate until cool. It will stiffen a bit more once its chilled.

Variations

Herbed cashew cheese:

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

1 green onion, finely chopped

Fold in the herbs, after the first steps are completed.

Truffled cashew cheese:

1 tablespoon truffle oil

1 small garlic clove

Add the truffle oil and the garlic clove to the blender with the other ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding only enough water necessary to blend.

Creamy dill dip:

1/4 finely chopped fresh dill

1–2 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon lemon Juice

Add the extra lemon juice and just enough water to get desired consistency and blend until smooth. Fold in the chopped dill.

Maple fruit dip:

Omit nutritional yeast and salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of maple syrup and a small dash of salt to the blender and blend until smooth. Serve with your favorite sliced fruit.

Related post on Beyond the Peel: Apple Blackberry Crumble With Hazelnut Topping

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