In talking with people about healthy eating and the different camps people are in (paleo, vegan, vegetarian, etc), cheese is often the food that comes up as a nonnegotiable. Like that’s one of the major things they just won’t give up, think they can’t live without, or is blocking them from other healthier options.
While I’m all for people eating what’s right for them and respecting bioindividuality, finding what’s right for you takes some experimentation and playing detective. Paying attention to what you’re eating and how you physically feel after eating those foods can start to point out if there are foods that your body reacts to. If you’ve found a food that you think gives you trouble, try removing it from your diet for about 2-3 weeks. Notice if you feel any changes while you’re not eating it, and after those 2-3 weeks, how your body feels when you slowly reintroduce it.
Dairy is a highly inflammatory food that can trigger certain things for people, from rashes to acne to headaches. While this isn’t the case for all people, dairy (along with gluten) are at the top of foods to play with to see if you have a reaction to them or not.
I’ve cut down on my dairy intake (with butter being the only dairy I have) to help with my own health, and it has helped, in combination with the other changes I’ve been making. I’ve had other friends that have stopped eating dairy and have cleared up their chronic skin issues.
But don’t worry! This is NOT the end of the world for the experiment or if your body just can’t handle dairy right now. There are lots of ways to enjoy cheesy flavors, textures and sauces without actually eating cheese. You’ve got my Cashew Ricotta Cheese to enjoy, and if you’re looking for something with a cheesier taste, this Chipotle Cashew Cheese Sauce will hit the spot.
The magic of cheesy non-dairy sauces is nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a yeast that’s been deactivated (meaning it won’t cause any rise like the kind of yeast you use in baking) and made into a golden, nutty, and cheesy tasting flakes. In addition to have a cheesy taste, nutritional yeast is also high in protein, fiber, zinc and several B vitamins.
In the store, you can buy nutritional yeast in the spice aisle or sometimes it’s hiding out in the health section of the store. I recommend Bragg’s if you’re trying it out for the first time. If you keep it in a cool, dark place (like a cabinet), it should keep for up to two years. You don’t need a lot of it for this recipe (3-4 tablespoons), so if you can find a smaller container (some are sold in larger tubs), go for a smaller one as you see if you like it. Or if your grocery store has it in their bulk section, get about 1-2 cups (8-16 oz).
When you’re making this sauce, if you want more heat, feel free to add in some more chipotles. Start with one at a time until you find the level of heat you want. Same goes for the nutritional yeast. If you want it cheesier, add in another tablespoon if you want more cheese. If you’ve added too much of either, add a little bit of water or coconut or another non-dairy milk to mellow it out.
This cheese sauce works in salads, roasted vegetables, as a dipping sauce, anything you would’ve used a cheesy sauce for. Enjoy it and don’t even miss dairy and cheese with this one.