Vegan “Cheese”

Better Nutrition|July 2020

Vegan “Cheese”
How to make your own healthy spread from treenuts.
By Jonny Bowden and Jeannette Bessinger

I’m not a fan of vegan “substitutes” such as vegan cheese or vegan pizza. For some reason, many vegan “substitute” foods are made with horrible ingredients and lots of chemicals. (Try reading the ingredient list on a vegan pizza—if you dare!) But this one is different. Very different. In fact, it’s the only vegan cheese I’ve had that I actually like. Here’s why:

First of all, it’s made from one of my favorite foods, nuts (see “Featured Ingredient,” below right). Secondly— unlike lots of imitation cheeses—it tastes extraordinarily good. And finally, it contains really healthy ingredients such as probiotics, and none of the chemical-tasting pseudo-ingredients often used in fake foods. As my grandmother used to say, what’s not to like?

Making your own vegan cheese— or “cheez,” as Chef Jeanette likes to call it—isn’t really difficult, but it does take some time (for soaking and culturing). And there’s no getting around it—you’ll need either a high-speed blender or an industrial-strength one. But here’s the good news: The flavors of these “cheezes” are so good, you won’t miss the real thing even a little bit.

And let’s face it, for many people, these cheezes are just going to be a lot easier to digest than traditional cheese. I love the “double-batch” approach because it produces enough cheez to ensure you’ll be able to nosh for quite a while. (Why go to all the trouble if it only lasts one evening?)

These soft vegan cheezes are amazing on a simple (gluten-free) cracker, but they also work as a bagel schmear, to liven up sandwiches or wraps, as a dip for crudités or fruit slices, or even dolloped over crisp green salads (one of my personal favorites). Enjoy!

Notes from the Clean Food Coach:

A countertop is fine for culturing in the summer months. When it’s cooler, I put my cheez in the microwave with the stove light on underneath to make it a little warmer than room temp.

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July 2020