Patti's Cashew Queso
Yield: 1½ cups
1⁄2 cup raw cashews, soaked
1 cup medium chunky salsa
1 small red bell pepper, seeded (approx. ¼ cup)
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1⁄4 tsp. salt
1⁄2 tsp. turmeric (optional, but recommended for color)
1. Place the cashews in a bowl; cover with warm water. If using a high-speed blender or Nutribullet, soak the cashews for 10-15 minutes; for a standard blender, soak for a few hours or overnight.
2. Chop the pepper.
3. Drain and rinse the cashews. Place all the ingredients in the blender. Blend until completely smooth and creamy.
4. Serve at room temperature with veggies or tortilla chips, or heat to a desired temperature.
Recipe taken from:
MORE FROM THE AUTHOR:
No cheese? It's a breeze with these vegan recipes.
I grew up eating meat, dairy and eggs.
As a kid, I didn’t think about it much; that’s just what we ate. I vaguely knew these products came from animals, but I hadn’t given it that much thought.
It wasn’t until college that I gave serious thought to what I chose to eat and how that reflected my values. First, did I believe it was wrong to cause unnecessary harm? That was an easy “yes.”
Second, were there behaviors in my life that were unnecessary yet were causing harm? That was harder to answer.
Then one day while walking across campus, I came face to face with a pig. He had been killed, roasted, and was sprawled out on display with an apple in his mouth. He was to be our dinner.
I’d seen plenty of pigs before. My aunt and uncle raised pigs on their farm. I recognized their pink skin through holes in transport trucks. I’d even eaten pieces of them from my own fork.
This was the first time I connected all the dots. It hit me that this pig had once been an individual with a personality, experiences and emotions all his own.
But because my friends and I liked the taste of his flesh, he was killed. It wasn’t necessary for us to eat him (or any other animal), and I have no doubt he didn’t want or choose to die. My behavior was causing unnecessary harm and death.
I had always considered myself an animal lover. I adored cats, dogs, horses and wildlife.
What if this had been a dog or cat lying roasted on that table instead of a pig? That would have sparked outrage.
But because he was “just” a pig, no one gave it a second thought. I was practicing what I later learned is speciesism, which is harming individuals only because they belong to a different species. I stopped eating meat at that point and found it surprisingly easy to do so.
In time, I also learned about the hidden suffering in the egg and dairy industries. For example, some egg-laying hens are kept in cages so small they can’t stretch their wings, and male chicks are killed in hatcheries because they can’t lay eggs.
I also learned that some cows are repeatedly impregnated so they will produce milk, and the mother-newborn bond is severed as their calves are taken from them shortly after birth. Ultimately, the cows and their calves are slaughtered, long before their natural life expectancy.
Once again driven by the understanding of the harm my actions were causing, I was motivated to make some changes. While I hadn’t really drank milk or eaten eggs since I was a kid, I still ate a lot of cheese.
I am now happy to report that you can be healthy, happy and enjoy delicious foods — all without cheese. I have three basic strategies for not eating it.
Much of the time, I just skip it. In doing so, I’ve gained an appreciation for tastes previously masked by cheese.
I occasionally use commercial cheese substitutes, especially now that they’re increasingly offered in restaurants and easily found in most grocery stores. I’ve also found many recipes that I enjoy, and I’m including here a couple of my favorites.
I get a lot of mileage out of these recipes by combining them with others. For example, I often take the Cashew Queso as a dip with tortilla chips to potlucks.
Everyone loves it, and there are never leftovers. I also use this as a topping on taco pizza, taco salads, baked potatoes and broccoli.
The Cheddar-y Broccoli Soup is delicious and easy to make. I think the key to this recipe is the miso, which provides a distinctive umami flavor. I also use the cashew cream portion of the recipe to make potato soup as well as other soups and casseroles.
For additional options, I reached out to friends and members of the Vegan Community of Eastern Iowa for recommended cheese options. Overall, VioLife was the favored cheese substitute due to its taste and meltability.
Miyoko’s Creamery was a close second, particularly as a spread on crackers. Several folks prefer to make their own vegan cheeses, primarily using cashews, tofu and nutritional yeast. And some just skip the cheese altogether.
I no longer feel like I’m “giving up” anything by not eating cheese, and I am at peace knowing my behaviors align with my beliefs.
If you’re interested in transitioning away from cheese and other animal-based products, one thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to switch overnight. Some people who make the decision to become vegan do so immediately, but for many, it’s a gradual process.
I’d encourage you to not let cheese be the reason you don’t start. One great resource to help you get started is 10 Weeks to Vegan from Vegan Outreach. This free guided challenge will make your transition to vegan eating a little easier and a lot more fun.