So here’s the thing..
It has been a long (often really physically painful) road for me, quitting cheese. Cutting it out for real. The intense immediate gut pain, being congested for days after – you’d think that would be a big no brainer to stop eating the stuff, right? Wrong. It took far too many belly punishments. Now, as a reformed cheese addict, I can tell you that in my opinion none of the new “cheeses” you can buy in stores come close to substituting for real cheese in a recipe.
I really appreciate the effort that some companies make to create imitation cheeses, some that even melt! However, I don’t so much appreciate the overly processed nature of those imitations. Folks are picking them up and thinking they scored the big one – when really it’s just another round of chemically processed oils, preservatives and who knows what being else added to their plate. As if anyone needs that.
Now, I know there are all kinds of fancy nut cheese recipes out there. For example, Elenore’s Rawmesan that is an amazing sprinkle type addition to pretty much everything – pastas salads scrambles and veggie galettes to name a few. Or, the kind perfect for dipping, scooping, spreading and snacking like McKel’s Cashew Cheese 3 Ways. Healthified – so delicious – remakes for get togethers like Laura’s Butternut Queso. You name it, some beautifully creative soul has whipped up their own version… (except maybe raclette, that one could be a toughy. Challenge, anyone?)
Those vegan, homemade & totally inspirational remakes of so many favorite cheeses are perfect. They resemble so much to me, so much. Creativity, experimentation, pushing boundaries and limits. That is what food culture is in my mind, all of those things. Creativity, experimentation and pushing past what the norm is, what someone has done before. Building on each other, building on the flavors and resulting in a crazy delicious bad ass healthy substitute.
The cheese in this healthy vegan quesadilla is really simple, it comes together in a snap AND from start to stomach – there is really little cooking involved, so these are perfect for the coming hot summer nights! They serve well as an entree, but could be a great appetizer for a patio fiesta party too, especially if some of the guests are a bit on the fence about vegetarian (let alone vegan) food. Seriously, they’re that good.
Take it from me, someone who has had an incredibly difficult and torturous road stopping the cheese crave. Someone who was raised a grilled cheese monster, a mac ‘n’ cheese hound. They are that good.
- Think before buying any extra packaged imitation foods. I know that cravings hit and sometimes the thought of a gooey thick grilled cheese is just too much to bear. I’ve been there too. Don’t go for the processed packaged stuff – it won’t fill the gooey cheese void, unless you’re really into chemistry.
- Be imaginative! Check out the many, many vegan food blogs around and see what kinds of ingredients they are experimenting with to make their cheesy recipes.
- If you’re serious about alternative (creative) cheeses, I suggest having some pre-roasted butternut squash frozen into cubes. Having some fresh nuts on hand at all times. Anything that will allow the cheese making process to be easier, faster and thus you more likely to do it.
- Tortillas (I love the sprouted variety)
- 2 Cups Cooked Beans
- 1 Orange Pepper
- 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes
- 1.5 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
- 5 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
- ⅓ Cup + 2 Tablespoons Water
- Pinch of Chili Flakes
- Pinch of Salt (I used smoked sea salt, but whatever good quality salt you have on hand is fine)
- Preheat the oven to 375
- Slice the pepper and quarter the cherry tomatoes
- To make the vegan cheese sauce, blend the chickpeas, nutritional yeast, garlic, apple cider vinegar, chili flakes and water in a blender until smooth.
- Season with salt to taste
- Spread the cheese sauce all over a large tortilla
- Sprinkle with cooked beans, tomato and sweet orange pepper before folding in half
- Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10 minutes, turning to broil to really crisp up the top right before serving
- Serve with fresh cooling condiments such as mango salsa* and avocado creme**
* My favorite mango salsa is really easy – one whole mango, 2-3 roma tomatoes and a handful of cilantro all roughly chopped, sprinkled with a tough of sea salt and juice from one lime.
** Having something like a cold avocado creme looks great when serving and helps to cool the mouth for those who are unaccustomed to spice. My go to recipe for a group of 4-6 people would be two avocados (pitted and scooped), one small cucumber, touch of salt and lime juice to taste – all blended into a smooth creme and kept covered in the fridge until serving.0