“I could never give up cheese!” “Coffee without cream? No way!” Six years ago, that was me and my reason for not eating plant-based. Then I read Dr. Neal Barnard’s book, “The Cheese Trap,” featured by Dr. Feinsinger in last week’s column. Dr. Barnard’s message resonated with me, so I decided to finally drop dairy and adopt a 100% whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle. Making this switch was far easier than I imagined, and I’ve never looked back.
So, how do we live without cheese? I have found that I actually don’t have to — and neither do you! There are many companies out there making amazing plant-based cheeses. In our local grocery stores we can find plant-based, non-dairy products by Kite Hill, Miyoko’s, VioLife, Follow Your Heart, Treeline and Forager. Many of these are tasty and can be a good alternative, but they may also contain coconut oil, which adds unnecessary saturated fat to our diet. They are also expensive. Over time, I’ve learned to make some of my own plant-based cheeses. Let me share with you how easy it is. (Many versions of these basic recipes are available online.)
Back in my dairy days, I ate Romano and Parmigiano cheese by the chunk. The salt and umami were hard to beat. Now I make this version to sprinkle on my pasta or Caesar salad. Nutritional yeast has a “cheesy” flavor. You can find it in the baking aisle of City Market.
• 1 cup raw cashews (or almonds or macadamia nuts or a combination)
• 3T nutritional yeast
• 1 t garlic powder
• ½ t onion powder
• ½ t salt (or more to taste)
Mix in your blender or food processor to your desired consistency. Taste and add more onion powder, garlic powder and salt to taste. This will stay fresh in your fridge for a few weeks.
(For a nut-free version, use raw sunflower seeds or hemp seeds.)
We eat nachos and tacos often at home, so I love having sour cream around. This will last about a week in the refrigerator.
• Tofu sour cream
• 1 package Mori-Nu firm or extra firm silken tofu (found in the Asian section at Natural Grocers)
• 1T apple cider vinegar
• 1T lemon juice
• ¼ t salt (or more to taste)
Add all ingredients to your blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Add more vinegar, lemon juice or salt to meet your tastes. You can also add cilantro to make a cilantro crema or chipotle for a chipotle crema. This can also be made with 1 cup of soaked raw cashews.
Cashew coffee creamer
This is the creamer that I make at home. I find it gives the same umami as dairy half and half. I also don’t need to strain the nuts after blending, which makes it easy.
• 1c raw cashews
• 2 ½ cups of water (more or less to taste)
If you have a high-speed blender, just add the cashews and water to your blender and blend for a few minutes. If you are not using a high-speed blender, soak your cashews in hot water for at least 1 hour (or cold water overnight). Drain and rinse the cashews before blending.
Laura Van Deusen is a licensed Food For Life instructor through Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She teaches whole food, plant-based nutrition and cooking classes throughout Garfield County. She can be reached at email@example.com.