There’s cheese, and then there are nuts or soy/tofu or rice or hemp — there is no substitute for cheese. The sliceable or shredded rice cheese is a waste of space, and I try to avoid soy-based fake dairy at all costs. Nutritional yeast is DELICIOUS on popcorn or kale chips, but it’s not cheese.
I am not vegan, but I started avoiding cream cheese after multiple cream cheese snacks resulted in uncomfortable emergencies at the crag. Cream cheese bothers my system — a lot — and coupled with the nerves that come with climbing (for me), it’s all bad. I’ve tried vegan alternatives, but they are no replacement for cream cheese, and they just make me sadly wish I had the real thing.
So I decided to try something entirely different: instead of attempting to replace cream cheese with a non-dairy imposter, I took my spreadable needs in a whole new direction. (And now I just accept that if I want real-deal cream cheese, I will have to deal with the consequences — preferably not outdoors on a climbing trip.)
One of my go-to solutions for the past few months has been a standard hummus, but lately I’ve wanted something with a little more zing. I started playing with recipes that some people call “cashew cheese,” mixing, matching, adding new ingredients, substituting others, and discovering some pretty great combinations! But I am calling it a dip, because it’s not cheese. It’s delicious! But it’s not cheese.
You can also thin this recipe out with a little bit of water or almond milk into a saucier consistency for pasta or veggies!
- 1.5 cups raw cashews, soaked overnight in warm water with a few drops of raw apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup fresh water
- 1 tsp avocado oil or EVOO
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 tsp lemon pepper
- ¼ tsp REAL or sea salt
- fresh cilantro* (no need to chop, just use 10-15 sprigs or so, that should do it)
Blend everything in the food processor until completely smooth (about 5 minutes).
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with crackers or fresh crudités.
*I know there are tons of people who hate cilantro. My sister hates cilantro and thinks it tastes like soap. I didn’t name this recipe Creamy Cilantro Cashew dip, because the next time I made it, I didn’t have any cilantro and used fresh parsley instead. It was equally delicious!
For all recipes I post, I encourage substitutions, creative alternatives, leaving out something you don’t like, adding more of what you do, etc, etc. Recipes are flexible, I’m just giving you a jumping off point. Be creative!