Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cashew Cream Cheese with Chives

I avoid using dairy in my diet because I don’t believe it’s good for me. However, cheese is delicious. And that could be really sad for me... if cashew cheese didn't exist. 

When people ask about my diet and what I eat, the most common thing they say upon learning I don’t eat meat or dairy is “I could do without meat but cheese? I couldn’t do without cheese.” And I get it, I do. I know what cheese tastes like. I know it’s versatility (i.e. it can go on literally anything), but when I say there are really great alternatives available now, I mean it. For me, cashew cheese does the trick. There are a variety of ways you can makes cashew cheese. My recipe takes a little bit of wait time, but it is worth it. I have been playing with this recipe for months, and I am finally happy with it. I hope you’ll try it!

Cashew Cream Cheese with Chives
By Bailey West, B.S. Nutrition/Dietetics
Serves 12*

1/2 cup quinoa rejuvelac (see directions in Step 1)
3 cups raw cashews
1 T nutritional yeast
1 t salt
chives, chopped (optional)

*This recipe uses 12 ounces of cashews (one ounce of nuts is considered a serving), hence the “serves 12”. 

Step 1: Make the rejuvelac. Don’t be afraid of this foreign word. It’s super easy to make and it will give your cashew cheese that great sharp, cheesy flavor. Take 1/2 cup quinoa, rinse, and place in a glass jar with 1 cup filtered water. Soak  for about 8 hours. Drain and refill the water until you see the quinoa start to sprout. At this point, fill the jar with 1 - 2 cups new water and cover with cheesecloth or a towel. Let this sit for about 2 days or until your liquid turns white-ish. Drain the white liquid into an airtight container - this is your rejuvelac!

Step 2: About 4 hours before you plan to begin making your cashew cheese, cover your cashews with filtered water and soak. 
Step 3: Once the cashews have softened, place them along with rejuvelac in a food processor. You can add the salt at this point, too. Once you have a really smooth blend, cover with a towel and let sit for about two days. It is good to check on it every so often, because depending on your climate, your cheese could grow some “moldy things” - this is cheese we’re talking about here! 
Step 4: At the two day point, taste your cheese for sharpness. I usually like to mix in my nutritional yeast and chives at this point and let the cheese sit another day or so. 
Step 5: Once you’ve decided you’re happy with the flavor of your cheese, store it in an air-tight container in the fridge overnight. It should firm up like dairy cream cheese would.
Step 6: It's finally ready! Try not to eat it all in one sitting and enjoy.

Pro tip: Enjoy with some raw flax crackers. So good.

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