Characteristics

This rich and creamy spread can easily take the place of any soft cheese, like cream cheese, but unlike dairy-based cheeses, it does not contain any saturated animal fat or cholesterol, and does not come with all the risks and problems of dairy. On the other hand, being a plant cheese it DOES contain fiber, and is loaded with healthy fats and protein, as well as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients.

It is incredibly versatile because you can flavor it in any way you like, whether you want a spicy, sweet, sour, smoked, or herbed version, and it can complement almost any dish. You can spread it on some wholesome bread or your homemade flatbreads and crepes to make all kinds of wraps, and even use it on potatoes and other starchy vegetables. You can even cut it into pasta dishes and mix into other meals. It can be gentle and mild to appeal to young children, and it can be strong and flavorful to appeal to teens and adults.

TYPE: Spread
PREP TIME: < 5 mins (+ soaking time + setting time)
SERVINGS: makes about 4 small cheese bars (over 2 cups of liquid volume)

Characteristics:

  • 100% Plant-based (Vegan)
  • Raw
  • Gluten-free
  • Wheat-free
  • Grain-free
  • Soy-free
  • Corn-free
  • Peanut-free
  • Oil-free
  • Sugar-free

Goodies Needed

INGREDIENTS:

Flavoring Options:

  • For a ginger version, add a small chunk of fresh ginger or some ginger powder

  • For a garlic version, add 1 to 2 cloves of fresh garlic or some garlic powder

  • For a spicy version, add 1 to 2 small chili peppers, or a jalapeño pepper, or some chili powder, black pepper, or cayenne pepper powder

  • For an herbed version, add some fresh or dried herbs

  • For a curried version, add some organic curry powder

  • Other possible flavor additions: paprika, cumin, turmeric, mustard, vegetarian smoke flavor, etc.

  • For a yellow color, use some turmeric powder, and for an orange color, use some paprika powder.

TOOLS:

Preparation Steps

  1. Soak the cashews in a bowl covered with water for 2 to 4 hours prior to making the cheese. (You can also just leave them to soak overnight.) When you are ready to use them, drain all the water and rinse the cashews well several times.




  2. Place one portion of the water (3/4 cup) and all of the ingredients, except for the Agar Agar Powder, in your high-powdered blender, and blend on high speed until a smooth and creamy consistency results.



  3. Place the other portion of the water (3/4 cup) with the Agar Agar powder in the sauce pan and begin to heat on high while stirring to mix and dissolve the powder.



  4. As soon as the Agar Agar powder comes to a boil, add in your cashew mixture and stir everything together until well blended while it is still being heated.





  5. Remove the mixture from heat, and quickly transfer it to your silicone molds. It is important to work with the mixed Agar Agar quickly, as it begins to set right away. Refrigerate until the cheese sets and hardens (at least 2 hours).



  6. After your cheese has set, remove from the molds and enjoy as part of your meals. Store extras in sealed containers in the refrigerator. The cheese should last about 1 week, and it can also be frozen.

Tips:

  • It is essential to use raw cashews for this cheese spread, not roasted cashews. Raw cashews will provide a different flavor, texture, and health and nutrition benefits.
  • I recommend making a simple cheese first, by following the original recipe, before you start experimenting with different flavors so that you have a baseline comparison of what the original cheese is like.
  • The ingredient amounts can be altered slightly, so I recommend that you experiment with what works best for you as you get comfortable with making this cheese. The cheese can be made to have a harder or softer consistency depending on the ingredient ratios and quantities.
  • You can experiment with adding in some starch, about 2 teaspoons, of either Tapioca, Arrowroot, or Organic Corn starch along with your Agar Agar powder. I don’t use this in my cheese recipes, but some others who make these kinds of cheeses do for a slightly different consistency/texture.

Meal Nutritional Benefits

Cashews

  • provide healthy fats, protein and some carbohydrates
  • provide vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • provide most of the B vitamins and vitamin K
  • provide essential minerals, especially copper, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron
  • support optimal health, weight, healing, and prevention
  • help maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • for more information, visit the cashews detailed overview from World’s Healthiest Foods

Nutritional Yeast

  • a great source of highly-digestible protein and nutrients
  • provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals
  • especially rich in B vitamins (some varieties also provide vitamin B12)
  • especially rich in molybdenum, iron, selenium, zinc, phosphorus and manganese
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • for more info, see the nutritional yeast overview on Best Natural Foods
  • Note: vitamin and mineral analysis will vary based on brand and not all contain vitamin B12; Sari Nutritional Yeast is all-natural and non-fortified.

Lemon

  • highly alkalizing, cleansing and detoxifying, with antibiotic properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • especially rich source of vitamin C
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing, and prevention
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • helps protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other lifestyle diseases
  • for more information, visit the lemon detailed overview from World’s Healthiest Foods

Unrefined Salt

  • unrefined sea salt unrefined Himalayan salt
  • naturally alkalizing
  • a source of over 80 essential and trace minerals
  • supports optimal blood pressure, heart and nervous system health
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing, and prevention
  • for more info, refer to unrefined salt on Green Med Info
  • Health Tip: avoid all forms of refined, white salt and processed foods made with it

Optional Additions:

Garlic

  • provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • especially rich in vitamin C and some B vitamins
  • especially rich in manganese, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and copper
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • supports immune health and iron metabolism
  • helps protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • for more info, see the garlic overview on World’s Healthiest Foods

Ginger

  • provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • supports digestive health; helps with nausea, vomiting, bloating and gas
  • supports immune health and protects against infections
  • helps protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • for more info, see the ginger overview on World’s Healthiest Foods

Black Pepper

  • provides anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • supports digestive health; helps prevent bloating and gas
  • helps protect against cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • for more info, see the black pepper overview on World’s Healthiest Foods

Cayenne / Chili Pepper

  • anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and analgesic properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • especially rich in vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, vitamin K and most B vitamins
  • especially rich in manganese, potassium, iron, and magnesium
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • helps protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other lifestyle diseases
  • for more info, see the chili pepper overview on World’s Healthiest Foods

Cumin

  • anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties
  • provides vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants
  • especially rich in iron, manganese, and calcium
  • supports optimal health, weight, healing and prevention
  • helps maintain healthy blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels
  • helps protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, infections and other lifestyle diseases
  • for more info, see the cumin overview on World’s Healthiest Foods