Thursday, November 14, 2013

Vegan Magic Cheese

aka What the heck is nutritional yeast?!

I decided that it's high time that I introduce you to one of my all time favorite foods, Nutritional Yeast.

You've seen it popping up all over my recipes and I have yet to explain what it is and why I think I can use it instead of parmesan cheese. Nutritional yeast is a fantastic food with a very unfortunate name. It's also referred to as "nooch" which I think is worse. Thus we decided early on in my plant based adventures that we would call it vegan magic cheese. And nutritional yeast is pretty magical! Nutritional yeast is the same creature that you used to make bread rise, except it's been deactivated after it was allowed to grow for a few days, often on molasses. The nutritional value of nutritional yeast varies from band to brand. Naturally, it is rich in protein, fiber, and many of the B vitamins: usually 2T contain 60 calories and 9g protein. Because it is a staple among vegans, it is often fortified to contain a complete complement of the essential amino acids and vitamin B12. And to top all that off, it tastes like cheese!

Cashew cheese, which most often gets its cheesy flavor from nutritional yeast, is a classic among vegans and it is tasty! Classic cashew cheese is made with just cashews and nutritional yeast, but obviously I have to be different. I add lentils or white beans into the mix just to be different and to round out the amino acid profile. I'm not a huge fan of cashews, (despite the fact that they are rich in many micronutrients and are a complete protein) so if you are allergic to nuts, I think a cheesy spread comprised of just the nutritional yeast and the legumes is delicious!

Vegan Magic Cheese

1/3c nutritional yeast
1/3c raw cashews, soaked in water overnight
1/3c white beans (or another mild legume like red lentils)
1t apple cider vinegar
garlic and salt (if you so desire)

Soak the cashews in warm water for at least 2 hours or overnight (longer will make your job easier!) Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy. You may have to add some water, depending on the moisture content of your beans. Enjoy!

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