I was inspired to start experimenting with homemade nut cheeses during our recent holiday in Barcelona. After having way too much Spanish tapas the first couple of days (as you do when you’re in Spain), I was desperate for a good green meals with lots of fresh vegetables. A couple of days into our stay I met the sweetest waitress in the restaurant lounge of our hotel who recommended a couple of popular vegetarian & vegan restaurants in the city. One of these was Teresa Carles’ Restaurant located in the gothic part of Barcelona. With a rustic country-like feel, the menu selection and food did not disappoint… we even went back for brunch a couple of days later, which was equally as amazing.
Though my diet is mostly plant based, I don’t slap myself with labels or call myself a vegetarian, vegan or anything else. I just love real food and what I love about vegetarian, and especially vegan cooking, is how creative it forces you to get with plant based foods. This delicious nut cheese is a prime example as it virtually tastes like your regular cream cheese varieties, but without the dairy, unhealthy fats, processed ingredients, hormones, additives & preservatives. My first encounter with nut cheese was in Teresa Carles’ vegan cucumber “sushi” rolls”. They were long shaved cucumber strips wrapped around cashew macadamia nut cheese and avocado slices and served with a sweet thai chilli sauce. They were so delicious and had my usually meat-loving hubs amazed as well. After getting home to London I of course had to try my own hand with vegan cheeses – hard and soft – and so far this has been the best one. A harder, and perhaps crumbly feta-like cheese is also on my list of experiments to try.
I opted for a mix of cashew and pine nuts, which give the cheese a very creamy texture and a consistency and taste very similar to regular cream cheeses. I also added probiotics, which gives the cheese a boost of healthy cultures that help promote and maintain a healthy gut flora. The probiotics are not necessary but if you want the added benefits, I recommend a decent dose of at least 30 billion organisms, but if you only have capsules with 5 billion that will work as well. Note, the probiotics do not alter the taste. If you’d like to know more about these healthy bacteria, what they do and how they affect your digestion and gut health, check out this post on healthy digestion.
|Homemade Vegan Nut Cheese Spread|| |
- 300 ml (1¼ cup) cashew nuts
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½-1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
- Soak cashews in water overnight.
- Rinse and drain soaked cashews and place in food processor or high speed blender.
- Add lemon juice, salt, nutritional yeast and olive oil. Process until the mixture is completely smooth and creamy.
- Scoop out the cheese into a small bowl and combine well.
- Place cheese in the fridge to set for 6+ hours (or overnight). This will help the cheese firm up.
- Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. I recommend using a glass jar with a lid.
I have already made this several times and have served it on a few occasions to people that didn’t even notice that it wasn’t a regular dairy-cheese. It’s great in sandwiches or on its own on a cheese platter served with crackers. My chia seed crackers are healthy, high in healthy omega 3 fats & antioxidants and easy to make yourself.
Hope you all love this.