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.


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.