Friday, May 17, 2013

Cashew 'Cream Cheese'

I would have never thought of soaking and blending cashews to make a vegan cream cheese, but I'm glad someone did, because it is a satisfying replacement. And it is a very handy recipe to have in your back pocket if you don't have cream cheese, because who doesn't have cashews lying around for emergencies? Okay, so I went to the store and got cashews specifically for this recipe, but who could pass up an occasion to make vegan cream cheese? Not me!
Could I have just as easily bought cream cheese? Yes, but we don't need to make things any easier than they are...this is the 21st century, and we have and app for that.
Homemade things are more fun, and it is nice to be able to appreciate something so simple...slowly. One step at a time.
And appreciate this Cashew Cream Cheese I have, after patiently waiting for the cashews to soak and after thoroughly blending them in a blender until silky smooth, it has been a delightful accompaniment to toast and veggies! Ahh, the simple things.
Not to mention the added health benefits of cashew cream cheese, healthy fats and antioxidants. Makes for happy snacking!

Healthy fats: Cashews, among other nuts are filled with healthy unsaturated fatty acids. These are the fats that actually help your cholesterol levels rather than harm them like the saturated and trans fats. The unsaturated fats are what help your hair shine and your skin glow. We need them like any other macro- and micro-nutrients!
Antioxidants: These little nuts are high in antioxidants  a free-radical fighting molecule that inhibits the oxidation and damage to other cells and molecules.
Copper: Plays an important aspect of enzymes that helps them to carry out the roles they were meant to do.
Magnesium: Cashews are known for containing magnesium. Magnesium helps to keep our bones strong and our muscles and nerves relaxed. Two important, very different functions. A little nutty isn't it?

So, lets get to it!

Adapted from: Oh. Ladycakes's Raw Cashew Cream

Cashew Cream Cheese spread on some simple GF toast

Cashew Cream Cheese

1 1/2 C raw cashews
3 medjool dates, pitted
1/2 C almond milk
1/4 C water
1/2 t lemon juice*
1 T agave*
splash of vanilla extract, depending on desired taste*

Cover raw cashews with water and allow to soak for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I will rinse the water once or twice while they are soaking. Before the cashews are done soaking, allow the dates to soften for at least 30 minutes, adding them to the cashews.
Drain the water the cashews and dates are in, and add them to a powerful blender or food processor. Add the almond milk, water, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.

*All added flavors depend on desired taste, sometimes I would like it more sweet and will add more dates or more agave or even honey.

NOTE: I recently just made this and added a pinch of xanthan gum so that it would keep its form and hold up in a recipe better. It worked very well.


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