I love cheese. A lot. More than a lot, actually. If I had to live off of one thing for the rest of my life (nutritional aspects aside), I’d probably choose cheese. Probably? No, I would. Definitely. I hope you’ll register this as a testament to just how important cheese is in my life.
In the same regard, I also love beer. And chocolate. And sourdough bread. But as with most things, balance is critical…especially at the ripe old age of 30. That said, I’ve been making a conscious effort over the last few years to try to exclude dairy (and beer, and bread) from the majority of my diet. For the most part, I’ve done a stellar job of this (with the exception of cream in my coffee and pizza — there’s no way around pizza). Cheryl eats almost no dairy, so that makes it relatively simple day to day. But the fact remains: I still crave cheesy goodness on occasion (read: always).
The grown up parts of me have learned that many of my cravings can be curbed with a little trickery. Sure, I’m DYING to sink my teeth into that double fudge, triple chocolate chip brownie drenched in salted caramel. But in reality, if I have a bite of a dark chocolate bar, this craving will quickly subside. And, of course, I’ll be much happier in the long run (literally). The same applies to cheesy, creamy things (these days, I ALWAYS feel heavy and gross after a cheesy meal — it’s become unavoidable. I blame it on the aforementioned 30 years of age).
Up until now, I hadn’t gone too far into my exploration of suitable cheesy substitutes (I won’t eat soy products, so that eliminates most of the mainstream “cheeses”). I’d played around a bit with topping certain veggies or grains or eggs with nutritional yeast (obsessed). But I hadn’t really gone too deep into recipe research and taste testing with sauces or toppings that would become something cheesy.
I’m only sad about one thing: waiting this long.
Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
The most difficult part of this process is remembering to soak your nuts. From here on out, I plan to keep some pre-soaked nuts in the fridge every week!
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup soaked nuts (cashews, almonds — I’d guess you could get creative: just be sure you let them soak for at least an hour)
- 1-2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (start with 1 cup, add more to achieve desired thickness)
- 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp dijon
- juice of half of a lemon
- 1 tbsp liquid aminos (or tamari)
- 1 large clove garlic
- pinch nutmeg
- pinch paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
How to do it:
In a food processor or blender, blend all ingredients until smooth.
Makes 2-3 cups of sauce (you’ll have plenty for leftovers)
What you’ll need:
- 1/2 box Ezekiel Fettuccini noodles (try zucchini noodles!)
- 2 cups frozen peas
- large tomato, chopped
- handful of fresh basil, chopped
How to do it:
Cook noodles according to package directions (or not at all, if using zucchini noodles!). Add peas into boiling pasta for remaining 3-4 minutes.
Drain pasta and peas. Return to cooking pot.
Add basil (reserve a smidgeon for topping) and alfredo sauce. Return to low heat, and warm to desired serving temperature.
Throw it in a bowl, top it with fresh tomatoes and basil. Enjoy!
Sure, it tastes a little healthier than REAL alfredo. But the benefits of not feeling like I ate 6 bricks for dinner far outweigh any mildly compromised flavor (and really, it’s so minimal it’s not even funny). I’ll even go as far as to say that I was just as satisfied (if not more, for the sake of not feeling so awfully guilty!) as I have ever been inhaling true alfredo dishes.