I feel a rant coming on so I’m going to begin by lightening the mood.
Take a look at my adorable dog and his new giant rope!
Okay. Now that that’s out-of-the-way…
I’ve gotta be honest, the stuff in the “dairy-free” cheese section of the natural foods stores reeeeeaaaallly freaks me out. So many INGREDIENTS. Why my lack of interest? Maybe it’s because cheese hasn’t been a regular part of my diet since I was a teenager and I’ve lost that lovin’ feeling? Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of cheese. It makes most things taste better. It’s like bacon in that way. I know it sucks sometimes to make paleo pizza without cheese or ask for no cheese on your In-N-Out burger. I ask you to consider another possibility. When you are really craving some cheese (we’re talking rare occasion… not every weekend), you may just want to go for it and eat the cheese.
Here’s my scenario. I rarely electively eat cheese. If I end up with it melted on my meal, it’s usually because I forgot to ask for “no cheese” or I wasn’t aware of the possibility of cheese in the first place. But alas, here we are… with cheese on my salad or my burger or my omelette…. what do I do? Usually, I eat it. Knowing full well that I may be a bit um… “gassy” later and there may be some unfortunate pimples the following week. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I prefer to live my life pimple- and gas-free, but sometimes you just have to eat the cheese.*
Fake cheese from the fake food section at Whole Foods is not the ideal way to enjoy cheese IMHO. I also wonder, in years to come, if we will see an increase in reactivity/sensitivity to these food products from overconsumption. I only say this because this very problem is now coming to our attention from overuse of store bought dairy-free milks. In our (the collective “our) efforts to provide alternative products for people of all dietary paths, we have created new gastronomical ailments (sound familiar?). The processing and combining of what perhaps originally started as a “whole, natural” food has been reduced to an industrialized food product and it’s making people sick. I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that most people who seek to life a more “paleo” lifestyle are striving to eliminate or at least decrease consumption of these products. Shop wisely everyone.
All that aside, this dip is not fake food. It’s real food, with a cheesy flavor. And that’s awesome. Use as a spread or a dip for things like sweet potato chips, chopped veggies, guacamole burgers, sandwich rolls…
Warning: This stuff is pretty addictive so if you’re one of those people with and “all or nothing” personality, you may want to package this is single serving containers… Help me, help you.
Vegan Cheese Dip
3/4 c. water (plus more to thin)
1 c. raw cashew pieces
1/4 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
2 Tbsp. pine nuts
2 garlic cloves (or one large clove)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp. turmeric for color
dash of cayenne (more or less depending on your spice tolerance)
- Setting aside the olive oil, add all other ingredients to your high-powered blender and blend until liquified and the mixture is “moving” in the blender. If the blade is spinning but not blending (mixture too thick) add a bit of water to get it blending smoothly.
- Slowly drizzle in olive oil while the blender is still on.
- Scoop into an airtight container (stir in more salt or cayenne depending on your taste) and refrigerate.
*If you are suffering from a health condition that is severely exacerbated by dairy products or you have a severe allergy to dairy, please do not follow this advice. This is meant for people who generally avoid dairy to comply with a specific “diet” or who experience mild reactions associated with dairy consumption.