Archive for February 2014

How to Make Vegan Cheese

I've always been super skeptical of vegan cheese. For someone who has ventured into a plant based diet because of the health benefits, eating processed vegan cheese just didn't seem like a good alternative and frankly I thought they all tasted like plastic. While researching some of my cooking curiosities I came across so many cool recipes for homemade vegan cheese... and immediately thought "how had I not tried this before?!" 

Cashews are so versatile and I'm finding out that in raw form they can make some really tasty treats. If you are looking for a subsitute for almost any recipe calling for a cream, butter, or cheese - cashews are the way to go. 

I've been experimenting with raw vegan cheese as well and have fallen in love with this version on the Rawmazing blog. Using just raw cashews and rejuvelac (a fermented liquid that you can make by soaking raw wheat berries) you can make an incredible soft cheese. We have been using this for quesadillas, grilled cheese, and pizza sauce. 

This cashew cheese can be totally customizable... adding in herbs, garlic, peppers, seeds, the list goes on. My favorite way to eat this cheese is with Whole Wheat Hippie Crackers and apples. 
Have you ever tried vegan cheese before? 

Vegan Cashew Cheese

1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB Braggs 
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic powder
2 TB miso paste
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water
5 tsp agar powder
1-2 TB sun dried tomatoes (optional) 

Soak cashews overnight. 
Using a food processor or blender, ground the cashews up into chunks. 
Add rest of ingredients (expect tomatoes, water, and agar) and blend. 
In a saucepan bring water and agar powder to a boil for 5 minutes or until mixture is dissolved. 
Add agar mixture to cashews and blend until creamy. Add in tomatoes and blend just so that the tomatoes are folded in. Pour mixture into a ramekin, loaf, or muffin pan. Put in fridge for a couple hours to set up. 

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Whole Wheat Hippie Crackers

If someone would have told me in high school that in the future I would end up swearing off meat, commercial body products, and stop washing my hair every day... I would probably laugh at this future "hippie." Yeah, I'm a little bit granola, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I've learned more about myself, food, and our environment in the last three years than I have in the previous 24 years of my life... and I want to keep on that journey.   

I used to eat crackers like it was my business. During my summer job cross pollinating corn, I remember devouring packaged peanut butter crackers every single day. In college, Wheat Thins and cheese was basically a staple. Once I found out what was in both, I rarely ate crackers again. Until my mom made me these Easy & Gluten Free Vegan Crackers from Oh She Glows. 

A little thicker than normal packaged crackers, these babies were salty and crispy. And they didn't last the weekend in our house. I told myself I had to make these, but kept thinking how time consuming it probably would be. Oh was I wrong. 

Blend, Roll, Cut, Bake. 
That's it. And now I'm back on my cracker craze. 

These guys tasted amazing with a spread of homemade vegan cheese. 
I'm thinking peanut butter crackers will be happening soon as well. 

Whole Wheat Hippie Crackers
adapted from Oh She Glows

1 cup whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry) 
1 cup almonds, ground
4 TB flax seeds, ground
2 TB nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
2 TB hemp seeds
2 TB seasame seeds
1/2 cup water
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease baking sheets. 
Ground almonds until fine in food processor, just before the point of turning them into a paste.
Mix together the rest of the dry ingredients with the almonds. Add in water & oil and mix well. Knead together with your hands and shape into a ball. Roll dough out as thin as possible and cut into desired size. Bake at 350F for 10-20 minutes. This truly depends on the thickness & oven as I rolled mine pretty thin and they were well done. Whereas my mom said she could have baked her's for 20 minutes, instead of 18 minutes. So watch those crackers! 

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Simple Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

If I had to document my life based on one type of food, chocolate chips cookies would be it. For such a simple cookie, these bad boys sure come packed with a lot of memories. Childhood consisted mostly of Grandma's cakey chocolate chip cookies. It seemed like she always had a tupperware full of them on the counter or a bowl of cookie dough waiting for us to lick clean. I'd pick out the chocolates and just eat the dough. 

Coming home from school, my brother and I always demanded snacks and Mom rarely failed us. She'd make crispy chocolate chip cookies and we'd tease her for not being able to get them chewy and fluffy. They always tasted the best dunked repeatedly in a cup full of milk. 

When asked what my first kiss was like, I always tell people it was like eating a chocolate chip cookie...he had just inhaled a handful of fresh cookies and then felt the need to kiss me. 

Procrastination in college meant baking cookies late at night. Holly's cookies were the favorite and they guaranteed to make tests, hard workouts, breakups, and hangovers better. 

This is just one reason why I adore food - it is so powerful.  The memories it instantly locks within us change the way we think about that food, the people we shared it with, and how we feel.

Simple Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Coconut Oil 
Flax Egg (1 TB ground flax + 3 TB Water)
1/2 cup Almond Milk
2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Vanilla
Vegan Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix your flax egg together and set aside. You can either just soften coconut oil or warm it to liquid. If you choose to just soften it, decrease your flour to just 1 1/2 cups. Cream sugar and coconut oil together, adding flax egg and almond milk. Sift dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Slowly add to wet ingredients, making sure not to over mix. Using a spoon, scoop out a full spoonful and using your hands roll it into a ball. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the bottoms are brown. Let cool for about 5 minutes. 

What food would you say documents your life? 

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