cheese

Book Rec: This Cheese is Nuts

This Cheese Is Nuts By Julie Piatt Plant Based For Me

Happy Holidays! We kicked off the season-of-stuffing-your-face at my house with our annual Harvest Fest potluck. It's a tradition that my old roommate and I started nine years ago. I took this opportunity to make two recipes from the book This Cheese is Nuts. It's a vegan cookbook with recipes for everything from cream cheese to aged hard cheeses. I made the Provolone and the Cashew Cheddar. Since I was crunched for time I did not store them in the fridge overnight (if you want them to truly harden this is necessary), but otherwise I followed the recipes. You just soak cashews overnight, dump the ingredients into a serious blender (I like my refurbished Blendtec), mix until smooth, then heat on the stove top for about two minutes until it thickens. You can serve them hot, keep them in the fridge overnight, or place them in the freezer for three hours like I did.  

I wouldn't call them cheese, but they are delicious spreads. I might be biased because I am excited about the general idea of homemade vegan cheese so I asked my husband for his opinion. He liked the provolone one better (it might be because of the white truffle oil), but overall he said he didn't like them enough to seek them out again. 

Fast forward a few days... I made the Botiija Olive Rosemary Cheese Spread for a work party.  It was a flavor explosion. A++. However, I did not follow the recipe exactly because I could only find dried botija olives so I added two extra olives plus a tiny bit of water until the consistency was right.  Someone mentioned that it would be a really good stuffed mushroom filling. 

Next up on my list are the Mozzarella and the Cream Cheese. I will update this post once I have made and eaten them. Oh, the things I do for you guys!  

I'm going to be straight with you. This Cheese is Nuts has proven to be a delicious and welcome new take on non-dairy cheese, but there are barriers to entry when it comes to executing the recipes.

The first one is money. Most of the recipes require a hardcore blender (i.e. a Blendtec or Vitamix) which are not cheap. I bought mine refurbished from Blendtec so it was about half of the original retail price. A good portion of the recipes also require a dehydrator. It looks like you can get one for about sixty bucks on Amazon.  

The second barrier is ingredients. You can definitely buy things like agar powder (gelatin substitute) and botija olives online, but not a lot of grocery stores carry them. You have to love cooking and be a bit adventurous to make some of these recipes. 

Overall, the cookbook is groundbreaking in a lot of ways and it could significantly help improve non-dairy cheese options. I think the next few cookbooks that are less intimidating and more approachable on the same topic will probably become very popular and widely used. 

If you're not feeling up to the task of making your own "cheese" do not hesitate to try the Kite Hill or Follow Your Heart non-dairy cheeses which are available in a lot of grocery stores. (This is not a paid endorsement!) 

hit me up with your questions about non-dairy cheese! nom nom nom. subscribe here.   

When in Rome... Eat the Best Pecorino

Welcome to my honeymoon! We just landed in Roma and we have a three hour drive ahead of us. Our destination is a small hotel in Tuscany. Hello perfection. 

But this is a plant based website... You might be wondering how I will avoid the meat and cheese that Italians are known for? You may do as you please, but I will eat about ten servings of cheese in the next six days. What about meat? I'll probably eat about three servings. Why? We are in Italy! As I have mentioned, I am not vegan. I eat animal-free dishes at 80% of my meals. That ratio will change for the week due to the fact that... say it with me... WE ARE IN ITALY!

The best thing about living my life in an 80/20 fashion (meaning most, but not all of my meals are vegan) is that I never feel like a fraud. Or that I "cheated". Or that I am truly missing out on life. That goes both ways. Let me elaborate. 

Missing out on life because you aren't living...

Have you ever craved steamed broccoli? I have on more than one occasion. I missed vegetables at the end of my week in Italy. They help me thrive. Eating veggies is a part of my life. Before I ate plant based my energy levels were low, low, low. Now, I have lots of energy and pursue many interests at once (my husband says it looks like I am running all over the place all the time).  

Missing out on life because you have FOMO...

Have you ever been on a diet and envious of someone eating cake, but then you ate the cake too and it's definitely not the best cake you have ever eaten? What a waste. Eating cheese in Italy was like eating the best cake, but there was zero guilt and zero shame because eating plant based is not like going on a diet. I typically don't eat diary because I know it's not good for me and I have made peace with that. Also, a lot of cheap cheese (like a $1 pizza slice) tastes like plastic. Blah. 

To recap... 

Eating cheese in Italy makes me feel alive, but eating cheese in the US prevents me from living my life the way that I desire. It's not that simple, but I know you are smart and see the big picture. When in Rome... eat the best pecorino. 

If you haven't read my tips on how to avoid constipation while on vacation then check it out here. For future posts you can subscribe here.