Just another Meatless Monday—When is the last time you tried cashew cheese?

I pressed the pause button, deciding to briefly meander from my focus on General Patton’s Southern California connection. A brief sideline…but a tasty one.

Months ago I mentioned my interest in the Meatless Monday movement.  The grassroots campaign is a gentle force, but significant. Linked with the Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, the objective is to provide  information, recipes and support to interested health-conscious individuals with the goal of reducing meat consumption by 15%, a controversial and contested point of view.

Debate ensuing, the theories still hold well for me and Meatless Monday is compatible with my goals for health and well-being. Many people enjoy the creativity of occasional vegetarian cooking without holding to any particular social aim. For those of you in that camp, you might be interested in exploring a few new vegetarian options just because they taste good.

Last year I  joined the on-line VegCookBook Club.  Each month we select a vegetarian or vegan cookbook and work our way through as many recipes as we have time to try. Then, on Meatless Mondays, group leader, Britt Bravoposts information and photos about the recipes she’s tried, and others add descriptions to the discussion thread and post photos on the club’s Flckr page.

So in anticipation of another Meatless Monday, let me share two of my favorites from January’s cookbook selection, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, by New York Times bestselling author Kris Carr with Chef Chad Sarno.

Kris Carr is a frequent contributor to Hay House Radio, and in health and wellness circles she is a rather amazing example of what a carefully designed  diet regimen is capable of supporting in the fight against disease. On Valentines Day 2003, Ms. Carr was diagnosed with a rare, incurable cancer, stage IV sarcoma. She was 31 years old.

She has authored several books outlining her vegan diet choices paired with attention to modifying stress and an overall healthy lifestyle. Although she is told she will never be in remission, for ten years she has held the disease in check, while reporting to feeling amazingly strong and now working to help people with diabetes, heart disease, and myriad other illnesses change their diets and experience the same improved well-being she enjoys.

Who isn’t interested in improved well-being?

Ta-Da! I know this doesn’t look like much, but it’s delicious! You’re looking at Cashew Cream Cheese.

Cashew Cream Cheese

I often wish vegetarian dishes weren’t given names that suggest they are a direct substitute for a non-vegetarian food. Especially a popular food. This is absolutely delicious, but it doesn’t really remind me of cream cheese. But I can tell you that it is addictive. I’ve shared it with several people and each has pronounced it “delicious.”

I didn’t have all the suggested ingredients on-hand but I was confident I could make appropriate substitutions and give it a try. This wonderfully tasty and dairy-free spread is excellent on toast, crackers, baby carrots, or as the cookbook suggested, as the spread in a Mediterranean Wrap.

The recipe is very easy to follow. I’ve adapted this slightly from the original.

Blend two cups of soaked raw cashews (soak for a few hours or overnight) with 1/2 cup of water, some lemon juice, 1 TB nutritional yeast and a small amount of minced red onion. I added a little dill. If you need a little salt to enjoy this, go ahead. I didn’t bother, and the dill more than compensated.

Mediterranean Wrap

The wrap is up to you! The cookbook recommended a Mediterranean flair, combining the Cashew “cream cheese” on the whole-wheat wraps, with caper berries, sun-dried tomatoes and arugula.

De-Lish!

So was the next recipe, but Red Thai Coconut Soup was a little more challenging to me. I couldn’t find a Thai coconut, so I substituted Melissa’s Brand Sweet Young Coconuts.

Getting to the coconut water while attempting to “poke a hole” in the  designated area, threatened a trip to the emergency room. So I roughly cut away what I could, tapped into the liquid, and made the decision that next time I’ll use coconut water from a carton.

Once I figured out how to “carefully” open the coconuts, I strained the water to remove the shell particles and added fresh lime juice, diced red pepper, garlic, some dried ginger (recipe called for fresh), 1 TB. yellow miso and 1 TB of coconut sugar to the blender and just whirred away. It couldn’t be easier.

These were both great recipes and I intend to make them often. I wish I could share a taste, because I don’t think the photos do justice to just how satisfying and delicious they are, but food photography is tricky business!

I’ll add a bonus to compensate for my poor photos.

One blogger who photographs her recipes very nicely and also shares her technique, is Charlie, at Hotly Spiced. Click here  to learn some of her methods used to improve lighting and focus. And while you’re at it, you’ll enjoy Charlie’s recipes and the humor associated with her family stories.

You know how I like family stories–mine and others.

I’ll be back to adding a little to the Patton family history this week and I’ll also observe Meatless Monday with a new vegetarian recipe.  Perhaps tomorrow I’ll learn which new February vegetarian cookbook leads in the group vote.

If you’re so inclined to play along, you might think about joining our on-line book club and occasionally trying simple and creative vegetarian/vegan recipes.

However your week begins, I wish you a very happy Monday…meatless is always optional.

58 thoughts on “Just another Meatless Monday—When is the last time you tried cashew cheese?

  1. These do look delicious Debra. A cashew cream cheese?! That sounds very unique. Mr. N absolutely loves cashews, so I’m guessing he would be a fan. I’d be curious to see what Miss A thought as she’s my cheese junkie. And I give you tons of credit for actually using real coconuts in a recipe. I’ve yet to attempt that one. ! Impressive. :)

    • I think you’d absolutely love the cashew “cream cheese” Kristy. But it really is a soft hummus-like quality. The cashews give it a mild sweetness that comes as a surprise. As for the coconuts. I butchered that thing! I don’t think I’ll ever do that again. I am sure there is a technique, but I need a tutor! You’ll have to let me know if you ever try the recipe. I honestly think you’d like it! :-)

  2. Well, this was a very pleasant side-bar from your other writing and I shall look forward to your next installment of General Patton. You’ve got a great system going for Meatless nights, I went completely meatless for a while after watching Oprah Winfrey’s show.. right about when I started blogging. Needless to say, viewing thousands of meat recipes that looked too tantalizing to pass up on meant the veggie in me often gets pushed aside. I do crave meatless nights and this looks like a great one! xx

    • I wonder if we saw the same Oprah show! LOL! I also was a total vegetarian for more than a year and one day it suddenly wasn’t working for me. But I do love many vegetarian meals and have fun experimenting. Moderation in all things and lifestyle choices is usually best for me anyway! Thanks for showing some interest in my Patton chronicles…it’s a little particular to my region, but because I’m so personally fascinated I almost can’t stop digging for info, and then I want to share my enthusiasm! You’re very kind. :-)

    • Thanks for your enthusiasm for the cashew cream cheese, CCU. I don’t share from my kitchen very often, but my Vegetarian Cookbook Club is a great source of inspiration and I enjoy trying a few new things and sharing my reaction. You’d enjoy the cashew cheese, I’m very certain. Thanks for the 2 thumbs up! :-)

  3. Go you! It’s been some time since I tackled a coconut. Soup looks delish. So does the wrap. My sister uses raw cashews to make a “cream” sauce for Alfredo. Yummy.

    We have meatless meals every night and have for at least 16 years. So if you ever need any inspiration, let me know. Tonight, we’re having pizza with sauteed peppers, potatoes, and onions. And fresh green beans on the side. Can’t wait.

    • Your dinner sounds wonderful Nancy! My kind of meal! We aren’t totally vegetarian, but we seem to go through long periods where we hardly eat any meat. I think the older we get the less we crave animal protein, so I wonder if our bodies are just changing. Well,I KNOW they’re changing. LOL! The coconut was an accident waiting to happen. I would love someone to really show me how to do it effectively, but since coconut water is so readily available in cartons, that is probably the best! The soup was really great and so easy. I’ll be making it often!

      • I used to use a common nail, 12 penny or 16 penny, to open each of the 3 “eyes” on the coconut. I’d stick the coconut in a vise on my dad’s workshop. One good smack of the penny head with the hammer on each of the eyes did the trick.

  4. So glad you derailed a bit from sweet ole General Patton to introduce us to this! I have been on a 21 day cleanse (7 more days to go for me) and have been dying for an onion dip and was wondering how to make one without diary. I am going to try this with caramelized onions–yummy thank you. I also bought the coconut shown on your photo and I am also intimidated to cut the thing–wish I had a macerated juicer to enjoy it without a trip to the emergency room.

    • Oh my but this cashew “cheese” with caramelized onions would be incredible! Now I want to try that! :-) I admire your dedication to the cleanse. I am trying to really be careful, but I do need to continue to make some more “cuts” in the snacking department! Aargh! After the fact I found a youtube video showing how to use Melissa’s coconuts, so maybe that will help you. I didn’t bother to check it out…I had already hacked mine pretty badly! The soup was really good, too, but the cashew cheese is a hit with everyone! Thanks for sharing the idea of the “dip” with the onions. I think that’s amazing!

    • Thank you so much, Thea. What a kind comment! I am glad you’re willing to follow me through my meanderings. Someone asked me the other to tell them what kind of blog I had, and I struggled to give them an answer! :-)

  5. Thanks Debra for the very kind mention! That’s so lovely of you. We’re not vegetarians but when we eat meat we try to make sure the meat has been well brought up and raised in the best possible conditions, fed the right food (not corn) not spent any time in feedlots and is preferably organic or free-range. Fortunately the meat in our country is raised better than the meat in the US. I think if I was in the US I’d be tempted to be a vegetarian too. Well done with the vegetarian recipes xx

    • I have really taken a stand against corn-fed beef and I only purchase the best. That’s also probably why we eat so little…it’s very expensive. But I’m appalled at the way our country basically experiments on us with food quality. I could really have an angry blog if I got started sharing what I REALLY think. LOL! Your food photography is so beautiful, Charlie, and when I started reading your other pages I was delighted to see your photography hints. That’s a generous addition. I enjoyed “sharing” you! :-)

    • The older I get, Frank, the more I realize the value in balance in all things. Reason, too. I think a lot of people wonder that I don’t seem able to form a strong opinion…actually, I’m extremely opinionated, but I keep many of them to myself! :-) The ability to see another point of view is my balancing act. Happy Monday…with or without meat! Hahaha!

  6. Both of the recipes sound like they would be very good. I used to live in Florida with lots of coconut trees in my yard. I have opened and used a coconut to make a coconut cream pie…never again. Very dangerous for the novice like myself.

    • You make me feel a little lest inept, Karen. I watch a show like Survivor and the participants just seem to open coconuts without too much travail! Of course, they’re using machetes, I think. I honestly don’t think it’s worth it, but now I know I tried! The recipes are quite good, and once again let me praise you for the beautiful food photography you share. It is really hard to make some of these “items” look as good as they taste! I won’t be starting a food blog! hahaha!

      • I can’t picture myself hacking away at a coconut with a machete…cans and bags of will do nicely. :) Thank you for your nice compliment on my photos.

  7. Oh, reading blogs can make you really hungry! I love cheese and just read about some horseradish cheese the other day and now this! We don’t eat meat that often here. My hubby cooks a lot of vegetables, seafood, and fish, so we are not vegetarians, but we often end up eating just veggies and nuts and cheese. If I lived alone I would bypass meat, now I eat whatever my hubby cooks. He’s from New Orleans, and food represents love to him. So I eat and send my love back to him.

    • I love what you share about food being love to your husband. I think it’s really important to honor that! Unless a person has a reason to avoid foods for health reasons I don’t really think it’s a good idea to create any tension or set up disappointment over food. Eating is definitely a pleasure! Or should be! LOL! How lovely that your husband cooks for you, Inger. I would enjoy that and I can’t imagine I’d ever complain! :-)

  8. Those recipes look and sound delicious, Debra and I’ve bookmarked them for future experimentation. DH and i have quite a few meatless days every month, though we will never be completely vegetarian. Our tastes have changed over the years and the health benefits of more pulses and legumes and less saturated fat are beyond doubt to my mind. Also there are so many wonderfully tasty vegetarian dishes that don’t involve meat-substitutes such as soya (a no-no for me after 2 oestrogen-dependent cancers) that we never get bored when we choose not to eat meat. The other thing we do is eat much less meat when we do eat it No more huge steaks for us. :-)

    • I think with what you’re sharing about some of the negatives related to soy products it’s another opportunity to emphasize the need for balance and not being dogmatic when it comes to promoting one dietary lifestyle over another. I think our bodies are so complex and we are definitely individual in our needs and requirements. But it can be fun to experiment with different products and combinations, and sometimes I lean towards vegetarian dishes simply because they taste so good, and not because I’m really avoiding meat! :-) We have noted how our tastes have changed, and I don’t know if any of it is a result of our own aging process, but I don’t think my body requires meat like it once did. I know you’d find the cashew “cream cheese” a really interesting, and very satisfying taste. I know you must be very careful about what you eat and how you take care of yourself, Perpetua. Thank you for sharing!

    • I like cheese, so I’d not be a good vegan. But this is a wonderfully tasty non-dairy product! I think because it is so very easy to make, you might want to try it and I’m thinking you would probably find a way to improve upon it! :-)

  9. My UK granddaughter is a determined vegan, and it is quite amazing what substitutes are available for them. Even a mayonnaise which is indistinguishable from the normal non-vegan one.

    • You are so right about the vegan options being amazingly plentiful. I don’t have a desire to be vegan, or even vegetarian, but I admit that I tend towards many vegetarian options simply because I am so interested in the many food choices out there. I have several vegan friends and I am amazed at their dedication! :-)

  10. These look phenomenal, Debra, and I will give them a try.
    We often have meatless meals. Growing up, both Tom and I came from traditions where we did not eat meat on Friday, so, one meatless day is no big deal for us. We still do meatless Fridays during the Lenten season. I like how you are taking this one step further. Isn’t it fun, rewarding, and healthier to have these options? I really enjoyed this post (though I’m even later than usual and just don’t know where the time goes these days). Thank you, Debra.

    • Oh I do so understand about time, Penny! Where does it go? I’m having trouble, too, so I just think it’s amazing that we keep up at all! LOL! But I really hope at some time you might try the cashew cheese. I think you’d find that something really different. It’s a nice appetizer base or a really quick protein boost. And the soup, without cracking the coconuts yourself, was quite good. We aren’t vegetarians, but I think most of us don’t eat meat as much as we once did. I sometimes think as I’m aging I don’t have the same appetite for it. It’s fun to find creative new foods and we are fortunate to have so many options! I hope you have lots of time this week, Penny! Of course, I want the same thing. :-)

  11. Pingback: Mango and Coconut Quinoa + Tofu Country Scramble | VegCookBook Club

  12. We’re not vegetarian but when we eat meat we aren’t eating something that’s the size of the plate either – we eat some meat with our vegetables – and because we live in the US we wont eat any factory farmed animals (or eggs) and try to always make sure the animal had a decent life and wasn’t fed anti-biotics and other crap that has somehow become regular items in animal feed.

    I’ve never tried Cashew Cream Cheese. It looks really tasty. As does the soup.

    • What? You’re not thrilled with the good old American corn fed beef? LOL! For those of us who care about this as we do, there is a reason we don’t eat as much meat…it’s expensive! :-) I like your reference to food portioning, too. I enjoy the work of Michael Pollan who also doesn’t claim to be a vegetarian, but refers to meat as the accompaniment to the rest of the meal. That’s a nice balance! I’m glad you shared, Rosie. You’d enjoy the cashew cream cheese…just don’t think cream cheese! :-)

  13. I have to hand it to you, Debra, for tackling a coconut. I never would, unless I get really angry at my fingers. I’m far too clumsy to pick one up, let alone bring it home and try to crack it. That’s a task better left to the professionals. Your cashew cheese is another story. however. This I would love to try.
    I went vegetarian one year, for about 6 months total over Spring/Summer. I never got over cravings for a steak or burger. Add to that the Italian dishes I had to forego and this culinary adventure was doomed from the start. Now I try to go meatless one day a week. This I can do. :)

    • I can’t claim one bit of courage in tackling a coconut, John. I really didn’t have any idea it would be so hard. I thought that if a cookbook recommended a fresh coconut then it must be relatively easy, although why I would think that, I really can’t say. I have decided I won’t try it again but it’s possible that a Thai coconut, whatever that is, would be an easier “nut to crack!” I really enjoy vegetarian dishes and find them creative and very satisfying, but I haven’t felt the need to totally give up meat. I did for more than a year and then began to seriously crave meat. I hope at some point you might try the cashew cream cheese. It really is NOT cheese in any way, but it’s so satisfying. I think it has more versatility than I’ve yet to explore. I can do a lot with a vegetarian diet, but I don’t want to give up REAL cheese, so being a vegan is totally out! :-)

  14. Love the title of your post :)
    and yes I’m with you – why cheese? Why not cashew spread, or is that not glamerous? The one I really don’t get is things being called butter when they are obviously not. Sorry for being a British grump ! But the cashew thingy does sound good.
    and of course I love Thai food, so YAAAYY from me. I should try and get my partner to explain how to crack open a coconut – his job, not mine !!

    • It’s so nice to see you back, Claire! I hope you had a wonderful holiday…or you may still be enjoying it! I’ll put you on coconut patrol and maybe your partner can help you post a “how to” for the rest of us! The cashew spread is so good. A friend mentioned it again tonight and we discussed how we can’t make it too often, simply because it is irresistible. I can only imagine the high calorie count! I’ll look forward to a new post from you and the opportunity to see some photos from your winter wonderland! :-)

    • Thanks, Meg, for the compliment of versatility. My eclectic tendencies sometimes make it hard to focus! I do recommend both recipes, but in particular the cashew “cheese.” It’s really amazing. I can’t imagine you wouldn’t find it a very unique and tasty AND easy dish! :-)

  15. Hi Debra – First, a sour note… I had Cashew Cheese at an expensive Vegan restaurant in Primrose Hill – it was totally flavourless :-( I blame the chef…

    I was completely vegetarian for over 20 years – it started out as a protest about the way that Chickens were kept in the UK and it’s amazing how giving up one meat for personal conviction reasons quickly results in losing your appetite for other meats including Bacon (ask any vegetarian which meat was hardest to give up!).

    My wife and I were vegetarian up until last year when the doctor identified that she has anaemia and made it clear that a couple of meat based dishes would be a good thing each week. So, that’s what we do – vegetarian most of the week and a couple of meat dishes to maintain a balance.

    You can have a laugh at a couple of my quick and easy vegetarian recipes if you want – these are great for youngsters to cook. In fact our Cubs cooked the Vegetarian Chilli and one of the leaders now uses the recipe regularly :-)

    • Martin, I really enjoyed reading about your vegetarian life! I hadn’t caught onto that before. I am interested in your story. I have been vegetarian a year at a time, then I ‘lapse” and try again later! I guess I’m not very committed. But we eat very little meat and part of that is that I often do prefer vegetarian dishes.

      I will indeed try your recipes! Thank you! And I am surprised that a restaurant would serve bland cashew cheese. I know we all have different tastes, but it is so easily infused with herbs and other flavors, I’d be curious to know if the original recipe differs considerably!

      I’m always learning something more about you, Martin. This was a treat! :-)

  16. Debra, thank you for sharing this. I am going to follow your example and make Monday’s a meatless one. My mate does not like veggies though, so have to get creative and hide them in my cooking. ;) I am catching up as usual with my favorite writers and you are one of them. :)

    • Thank you so much, Marie. Meatless once a week isn’t too hard…you can do that with pasta dishes! :-) But it is fun to find new recipes and make creative choices! I’m so glad we can share back and forth! I do appreciate you stopping by as often as you can. Life does get busy, doesn’t it!!

  17. Pingback: the cook(book)ing school: from my “healthy books to read in 2013″ list – crazy sexy diet by kris carr | the cook(book)ing school

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