Nacho Cauliflower Cheese

One of the most difficult things for many people when transitioning to a plant-based diet is cutting back on cheese. Cheese is one of those comfort foods that is not only addictive, but is found on almost everything we eat in a traditional American diet. Unfortunately cheese is loaded with saturated fat. In fact, cheese and pizza are the two top contributors of saturated fat in the United States!

I have not tried many store-bought vegan cheeses that I’ve loved, although some do seem to be getting better. Many of the pizza shops in our area now use soy cheese or brands such as Daiya or Follow Your Heart as alternatives to mozzarella. Most of these processed foods still aren’t healthy as they contain various oils and additives.

Great vegan cheese does exist, however. My wife and I attended the Miami Seed vegan food festival last year where we found some vendors who created amazing artisan vegan cheeses that were indistinguishable from the real thing!

I’ve tried making spreadable, semi-firm cheese at home with variable success. However, I’ve found a few recipes for cheese sauces that have hit the spot. These can be modified to make anything from mac-n-cheese to a warm queso dip. Most of the recipes contain cashews to add creaminess, and nutritional yeast (a deactivated yeast which can be found in the bulk section of most health food markets or ordered online) and spices to create a cheese-like flavor. This recipe also uses cauliflower which provides an even creamier texture and additional nutrition!

Find original recipe from Connoisseurus Veg here

2 cups cauliflower florets, 1 small white potato, peeled and chopped into 8 chunks, 1-2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water 4-8 hours and drained
1 cup unsweetened unflavored soy or almond milk, plus more as needed
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
2 garlic cloves
1/4 to 1/3 cup vinegar-based hot sauce, like Cholula
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt to taste
1 cup jarred tomato salsa, optional

1. Place the cauliflower and carrots into a medium saucepan and cover with water. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and allow to simmer until the veggies are very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain into a colander.
2. Place the carrots, potato, and cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor or high speed blender and add all other ingredients except the salsa. Blend until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add more milk to thin if you’d like. Season with salt to taste.
3. Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and swirl in the salsa, if using.
4. Serve with chips.