When I decided to adopt a plant based lifestyle the two things that I had the hardest time with were sweets and cheese. How on EARTH could I give up my oogey gooey sidekick to mac n cheese, nachos and cheese, and grilled cheese yo? What if I told you that not only does cashew cheese taste like cheese but it is actually BETTER for you than regular cheese???
Is cashew cheese.
I had heard about it but I was not a believer and was determined to stay that way….
Until I tried it for myself
The heavens had opened and it actually tasted like cheese!!!
My other barrier to cashew cheese is that I thought it would be difficult to make. Nope, it was easy peasy and have found myself making quite often ever since.
The secret ingredient in this secret sauce is nutritional yeast.
What the heck is that you ask?
Great question as I had the same one. I promise I’ll only be science-y for one minute. Similar to the active yeasts found in breads, but without the leavening agents, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugar cane and beet molasses. It’s then heated and dried and crumbled into flakes or is sometimes powdered. The process of heating and drying deactivates the yeast. It’s also much easier for our bodies to digest than regular cheese.
There a crazy amount of vitamins and minerals found in nutritional yeast…
High in B12 which is important for producing red blood cells and having a maintaining healthy nervous system function.
If you frequently experience brain fog or memory problems you may have a Vitamin B12 deficiency.
This vitamin is crucial for making new neurons or brain cells but it can be a tough one to get through food. This where a good quality supplement comes in. Vitamin B12 is important for communication in between brain cells and to engage the action of our neurotransmitters.
Nutritional yeast is also a great source of non-animal protein with 2 tablespoons containing 9 grams of protein and I guarantee you that you will want to eat more than 2 tablespoons! Especially on these loaded nachos and cheese.
Nutritional yeast is also high in folic acid which is an essential nutrient for mommies to be. Additionally adequate levels of folate reduces brain fog and bad moods. In fact folic acid has been used for years in treating clinical depression. Folate also helps to lower homocysteine levels in your blood. Why should you care about this? Well high homocysteine levels have been linked with impaired cognitive function.
This is the benefit most will be cheering about because…
it’s gluten free y’all!
Some other honorable mentions? Manganese, vitamin E, zinc, fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, calcium, copper, and phosphorus.
You can pick it up at your local bulk or nutrition store, Whole Foods, or even check your grocery store’s wellness aisle for Bob’s Redmill. For those of you in Canada I’ve purchased it at Bulk Barn and Whole Foods.
How to use cashew cheese
Spread on crackers
Use as a dip for veggies
Throw on nachos for game night, or any night really
Blend it with some turmeric and a little more water to make mac n ‘cheese’
Use on your pizza in place of regular cheese
Add to you pasta with some reserved pasta water, and a touch of almond milk to make a creamy sauce
Sprinkle on salads or popcorn
Eat by the spoonful on it’s own, kidding…well maybe not
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup water
- ½ teaspoon apple cidar vinegar
- Black pepper to taste
- Place cashews in a bowl with warm water and soak for at least 2 hours. Super important because it will soften the cashews allowing them to blend better.
- Drain cashews and add to food processor along with all other ingredients. Pulse until thoroughly combined. Store in covered container or jar in refrigerator to keep fresh.
I’d looove to see how you use cashew cheese or your ideas for using nutritional yeast. Tag your recipe #eatliveandplay on Instagram or Twitter!