Some vegans find it difficult to give up cheese even though they know it’s not the best food to consume. Cheese is very high in calories and fat. To that, add sodium and cholesterol. Cheese may taste good, but like all animal products, there is no reason to eat it when you have healthy alternatives. This recipe for Basic Herbed Cheese is a healthy, vegan alternative for vegans and non-vegans alike who are looking for an alternative to cheese.
As for cheese alternatives in general, basic raw cheeses often contain nuts, probiotics, or rejuvelac for curing, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, and some Irish moss for thickening. In addition, you can add a variety of herbs to enhance the flavor. Recipe and photo contributed by Mimi Kirk, from Live Raw: Raw Food Recipes for Good Health and Timeless Beauty (Skyhorse Publishing, 2011). Photo by Mike Mendell.
Basic Herbed Cheese (Raw and Vegan)
- 2 cups macadamia nuts, cashews, pine nuts, or almonds, soaked 4 hours in 3 cups filtered water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- ½ tsp Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
- ½ tsp probiotic powder
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 or more cups water, as needed
- Blend all ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth. Start by adding ½ cup water, blend; add more water as needed using a tamp to scrape sides down and to keep nut mixture moving. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, if necessary. Texture should be smooth and very thick. Taste and adjust salt.
- Place a strainer over a bowl and line it with cheesecloth. Scrape cheese mixture into strainer and place another piece of cheesecloth on top. Wrap up the sides of the cloth to cover the mixture and place a weight on top just heavy enough to slowly and gently push out the extra liquid. Leave for 24 hours to culture at room temperature.
- Remove cheese from cloth and place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator. Or place in a small mold with removable bottom that has been lined with clear kitchen wrap. Cheese firms up as it chills.
- Finished cheese can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a week. If you choose, shape cheese in a mold and dehydrate for 10 hours at 105 degrees to give the cheese a rind. Remove from dehydrator and place the cheese in the refrigerator until it sets before removing mold.
After cheese has cured, you can mix in 1 teaspoon coconut aminos, tamari, miso, nama shoyu, or Bragg’s; herbs of choice, including chives, garlic, black pepper, dill, and sun-dried tomato; or form into a wedge, log, or ball and coat with fresh herbs. Serve with flax crackers, veggies, use on raw bread or pizzas, roll in nori sushi, collard wraps, and much more.