Healthy Vegan Cheese Sauce

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Is vegan cheese healthy? I’m sure you have this question in mind if you consider yourself a vegan or are just considering making the switch. There are many types of vegan cheese that can help you enjoy the tastiness of cheese minus the guilt that is usually attached with it.

Delicious poured generously over your favorite steamed veggies, this versatile Vegan Cheese Sauce is also excellent in a Mac & Cheese and can even be used hot or cold as a dip for fresh veggies, crackers or chips.

Boy have I got some joy to bring into your life today… This cheese sauce, guys, this cheese sauce! I’m telling you, it will most definitely bring a little instant of delight to any given day!

Firstly, because if you’re not yet familiar with it, it’ll lead you to discover my Butternut Squash Oven Roasting Technique — which is completely life changing if you ask me — and secondly, because, well, this vegan cheese sauce, it’s pure bliss. So good, so thick, so creamy, so silky, so cheezy, sooooo yummy!

It will instantly turn any old plate of boring steamed veggies into a veritable party, produces a terrific Mac & Cheese when added to cooked pasta, and can even be used hot or cold as a dip for fresh veggies, crackers or chips.

I think it’s about to become your new best friend in the kitchen…

Since you’re going to need some roasted butternut squash as a base for your sauce, this is the first thing you’re going to have to tackle. It’s crazy simple, though, you’ll see; just check out the detailed instructions in this post, or follow the directions in the recipe card below!

You will want to use a medium-largish squash for this, as you will be needing about 2 cups (that’s 400 grams) of cooked flesh; just make sure that your raw gourd weighs at least a little more than that, to make up for the peel and refuse. When in doubt, use a larger squash: leftover roasted squash never goes to waste… at least not in this household it doesn’t!

Once your squash is done roasting, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes until you can safely handle it without burning your fingers.

As soon as the squash is cool enough to handle, grab a large spoon (did I ever tell you just how much I love an ice cream scoop for these kinds of things?) to scoop out that flesh and measure out about 2 cups of it; that’s 400g, if you’re like me and prefer to weigh stuff.

Now the rest of the operation will go lightning fast! Just put the cashews, boiling water and garlic cloves in the container of a high-speed blender.

Again, I’m afraid you absolutely need a high-powered blender for this recipe to really turn out great. You could probably make it in a regular blender or a food processor, but it’ll never come out quite as silky and creamy…

Process the ingredients on high speed until super smooth and creamy, stopping once or twice to scrape the sides, as needed.

Now add that oven baked butternut squash, along with the nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, turmeric, onion powder, paprika, salt and white pepper.

Process again on high, until the sauce is super smooth and silky.

Your sauce is now ready to use as you please, but if you prefer it to be a tad on the warmer side, transfer it to a small saucepan and heat it over low heat ; be extra careful, though, as the sauce will scorch fairly easily, so be sure to keep a close eye on it and stir often!

Now all that’s left to do is enjoy this delicious cheese sauce you just created. Pour it liberally over a generous serving of steamed broccoli, or your own personal favorite veggies.

And like I said, this versatile cheese sauce also makes an outstanding Mac & Cheese and can even be used as a dip, hot or cold, for fresh veggies, crackers or chips. Enjoy!

Vegan Cheese Sauce

Delicious poured generously over your favorite steamed veggies, this versatile Vegan Cheese Sauce is also excellent in a Mac & Cheese and can even be used hot or cold as a dip for fresh veggies, crackers or chips.

 

To make the oven baked butternut squash*

  • Preheat the oven to 375°F
  • Cut the butternut squash in half and scoop out the guts and seeds with a spoon; place them in a dark roasting pan and drizzle them with a generous amount of extra-virgin olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Turn the squash flesh side down and pour about 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the pan.
  • Bake in the oven, uncovered, for about 40-45 minutes, until the squash becomes really soft and can easily be pierced with the tip of a sharp knife.
  • When the squash is fully cooked, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes until you can safely handle it, then, with a large spoon, scoop the flesh out of the squash and measure out 2 cups (400g)

To make the cheese sauce

  • Put the cashews, boiling water and garlic cloves in the container of a high-speed blender and process on high speed until super smooth and creamy, scraping the sides as needed.
  • Add the oven baked butternut squash, along with the nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, turmeric, onion powder, paprika, salt and white pepper. Process on high again until the sauce is super smooth and silky.
  • Serve immediately or transfer to a small saucepan and heat over low heat for a warmer sauce; be extra careful as the sauce will scorch fairly easily, so be sure to keep a close eye on it and stir often!
  • Pour liberally over freshly steamed broccoli or your personal favorite veggies. This versatile cheese sauce also makes an excellent Mac & Cheese and can be used hot or cold as a dip for fresh veggies, crackers or chips. 

If you’ve tried this recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and let me know how things went for you in the comments below. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!

Is Vegan Cheese Healthy?

If you’re following a vegan or plant-based diet but hankering for some cheese, you may not need to skip it. While real cheese traditionally comes from the milk of cows, goats or sheep, alternatives made with nuts, nutritional yeast and vegetable oils are popping up. Thank food technology, human ingenuity and the popularity of vegan diets for bringing cheese into the dairy-free world. But what exactly is vegan cheese and what do you need to know before you try it?

What Ingredients Are in Vegan Cheese?

Vegan cheeses are 100 percent animal-free and made using vegetable proteins. Usually they’re made from soy; nuts, such as cashews and macadamias; and vegetable oils, such as coconut oil. You can also find cheeses that derive from agar, tapioca, peas and arrowroot.

The ingredient list on some vegan cheeses may raise the eyebrows of those trying their best to eat clean and minimally processed foods. Many contain added starches and thickeners such as carrageenan and xanthan gum.

How Is Vegan Cheese Made?

When vegan cheesemakers first began creating vegan cheese, the main goal was to make it look like traditional cheese. But over time, they realized that wasn’t going to cut it. They had to figure out ways to make the animal-free cheese taste and act more like the real deal-think melting on toast.

Vegan cheese is created using a process that shares some similar steps with traditional cheesemaking-sans animal milk, of course.

Plant proteins are separated using bacteria. Then ingredients such as oils and thickeners are added to help create the desired cheeselike consistency.

Just like traditional cheeses, the next big thing needed for a tasty vegan cheese is time. The vegetable protein and bacteria sit and break down further. Unlike the animal proteins in dairy cheeses, however, those in vegan cheeses don’t naturally bond to one another. The result is flavors that tend to not be as complex and unique.

Does Vegan Cheese Taste Like Cheese?

The biggest thing you’ll notice with your dairy-free cheese is that it doesn’t melt quite the same. Don’t expect quite the same ooey-gooey experience when you top your pizza with vegan cheese. Keep in mind that all brands are different, so if you try one brand you don’t like, don’t give up on the rest. Vegan cheesemakers are coming up with new processes all the time that are making these cheeses taste even more like the traditional stuff.

Is Vegan Cheese Healthy?

If you’re avoiding regular cheese because of the saturated fat, you may not need to. Recent research shows cheese may actually be good for your health and reduce your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Vegan cheeses are typically lower in fat, protein and calcium than regular cheese and are likely gluten-free. Because vegan cheese is a processed food, it tends to be higher in sodium, so check your labels. Vegans can’t count on vegan cheese as a protein source, the way that vegetarians may sometimes rely on regular cheese. So while it’s not a super vegan health food the way kale and lentils are, vegans may rejoice in eating pizza, grilled cheese and queso dip again.

What Are the Best Brands of Vegan Cheese?

We reached out to vegan cookbook author Dreena Burton of Plant Powered Kitchen and The Colorful Kitchen blogger Ilene Godofsky Moreno to find out their recommendations for the best vegan cheeses on the market. Here’s what they said:

Vegan Parmesan Cheese: Parmesan substitutes vary from simple shakers made with blends of nutritional yeast and nuts by companies like Parma to more authentic-looking shreds and wedges from Violife, Burton says.

Vegan Mozzarella Cheese: “Miyoko’s Kitchen Fresh Italian-Style Vegan Mozz is the real deal,” Moreno says. “The texture is eerily similar to traditional mozzarella, and it’s delicious fresh in a caprese salad or melted on pizza.” Burton agrees that Miyoko’s Kitchen makes a terrific mozzarella substitute.

Vegan Cheddar Cheese: Moreno’s go-to Cheddar is Daiya Cheddar shreds: “It gets super melty when grilled in a sandwich or mixed into pasta.” Other good brands of melty vegan cheeses, according to Burton, include Follow Your Heart and So Delicious.

Vegan Ricotta Cheese: Kite Hill has nailed the unique texture of ricotta cheese, Moreno says. “My mom recently started swapping out the traditional ricotta in her famous lasagna for Kite Hill’s vegan version, and no one in my family could even tell the difference!”

Vegan Cream Cheese: Tofutti and Go Veggie are among the best companies offering soy-based cream cheeses, says Burton, who also recommends trying out artisanal nut-based cream cheeses.

Many artisanal cheeses have their own unique flavors that you may enjoy, so if you’re looking for a fun Friday night activity, buy a few and create an at-home cheese plate taste test.

“I think artisanal cheeses are the best representation of plant-based cheese because the flavors generally taste very real and fresh,” Burton says. “They come in outstanding flavor varieties and their textures rival any dairy cheeses.” She recommends checking out varieties by Treeline, Dr-Cow and Punk Rawk Labs.

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