But What About Cheese??? Why I broke up + a Cultured Cashew Cheez Recipe

Most people tell they could never give up cheese.

Trust me, I understand. I used to say the same thing.

I mean, I really get it. Who doesn’t love cheese?

 

 

Delicious Dairy Free Fermented Cultured Cashew Cheese. www.justrealstuff.comI used to love everything about cheese, but since I broke up with it I can see it for what it really is.

I’m definitely not a vegan as I still eat meat and cheese on occasion, but I rely primarily on whole plant foods for my diet. I used to eat a LOT of cheese though. Did you know that the average American eats 30 pounds of cheese a year!! This amount is three times more than what Americans ate back in the 70’s by the way. Double cheese stuffed pizza anyone? Fried cheese? Nachos?

A lot of people ask me why I avoid dairy. Some of the reasons relate to health, some relate to the environment, and some relate to issues of conscience. I do want to stress that these are my reasons, and I don’t judge others who choose to eat it.

Like I said I do still eat cheese once in a blue moon (like when my hubby has a really good extra sharp cheddar he invites me to try), but I choose to avoid dairy the majority of the time. I also actively and eagerly seek out substitutes and alternatives which I thoroughly enjoy. About half of the people in my family still eat dairy so at any time you will probably find regular cheese and non-dairy cheese coexisting quite peacefully in our fridge and regular and dairy-free ice cream in the freezer. We seriously need an extra refrigerator!!

In the end we all have to do our own research, listen to our bodies and our conscience, and choose our own path. This is mine.

The reasons I typically don’t eat dairy are all over the board, but I’ll try to make it clear. Sorry, this post is so long, but trust me it could have been LOT longer. Be thankful. Grab a dairy-free latte and enjoy 🙂

Or just skip to the bottom for the awesome recipe!!

Cheese is highly addictive. This is anecdotally evidenced by most people saying they could never give it up! Casomorphins produced by breaking down casein attach to our opiate receptors and cause us to “feel good”. This is nature’s way of getting a baby cow to like drinking its milk. It has the same effect on people with some people being more sensitive than others to it. As someone with a history of disordered eating, cheese (and dairy products in general) can be a trigger food for me causing me to want to overeat it. Once I eat a little cheese I want MORE. Moderation doesn’t really exist with me and cheese. Since it is not at all necessary as a nutrient, it’s easier for me to just avoid it. The Bible says that if something causes you to stumble you should cut it out – even if it’s cheese (or your eye). It doesn’t say if something causes you to stumble you should learn how to deal with it in moderation. haha

Many people (including me) have allergies and intolerances. When I stopped eating dairy products, my skin cleared up, my digestion improved, and  sinus issues I have had my entire life resolved. My childhood was literally one long sinus infection. I had tubes in my ears twice and now have minor hearing damage from the scar tissue in my ears from constant ear infections, ruptured ear drums, and the surgeries. Huh? What did you say? I was constantly on antibiotics for the same infections. Those days thankfully are a faint memory now that I rarely eat cheese and never drink milk. Some people say that those problems can be avoided by drinking raw milk. That might be true for some people, but it is not always the case. For most of my childhood we got raw milk directly from a local farmer, and I still had problems. (Just an interesting side note related to the allergy thing – we often crave the food to which we are allergic/sensitive. We go into this in depth in my elimination diet and detox programs.)

Cheese is calorically dense/high in saturated fat. These are both things I’m not looking for in food. Dairy products are perfect for feeding a baby cow to maturity. It’s kind of trendy right now to say that eating saturated fat is good, but the studies that say that are questionable at best.  Here’s some info about that. Also, check out this video about ENDING the heart disease epidemic. On the other hand, studies repeatedly show that plant-based diets can be amazingly effective at reversing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many more “diseases” of lifestyle.

Dairy products do NOT reduce the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. This belief is the result of successful marketing by the dairy industry, but is not true. Yes, we need calcium, but you can get plenty from plant sources (hello, leafy greens!!) without the risks. Check this out. Some studies have shown that countries with the highest milk intake actually have the highest rate of hip fractures. It turns out that eating too much protein, which happens easily if you eat a lot of dairy and meat, actually has a negative effect on your calcium levels as your body leaches calcium out of your bones to help alkalize your acidic blood.

Cheese and all dairy products are linked to higher incidences of certain cancers by increasing IGF-1 which is the hormone associated with the growth of prostate and breast cancer. You can read a summary and find links to studies at the Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine site.

The dairy farming industry has negative environmental impacts. Research this just a bit and you might be surprised. You can find out more here if you are interested.

The following items have to do with all animal food products, not just cheese/dairy products:

Factory farming is really, really bad. It’s worse than scary movies because it’s REAL. Most dairy products eaten come from factory farms. You can find out more about the disturbing facts about factory farming here. I don’t think it is wrong to eat animals or animal products, but I do believe that we were commissioned by God to be STEWARDS of the animals and treat them humanely. Factory farming absolutely breaks my heart. Have you seen those videos? Even when they aren’t being outright abused and tortured, the living conditions the animals endure are miserable at best and horrific at worst. I dare you to watch them and still say factory farming is okay. (Yes, small, responsible farms generally treat animals better, but they are few and far between and incapable of producing enough dairy products and meat for the demand that is out there. And the cost of those products is prohibitive for many people.)

Diets that rely on large amounts of animal products are unsustainable for the planet. This is related to the previous item. There is not enough land on this planet to raise animals in an ethical and healthy way to fulfill the needs of people who rely heavily on animal products. This means that out of “necessity” we depend more and more on factory farming to fulfill the demand.

There are a lot of hungry people in the world. There is not a shortage of food in the world, but they way it is being used leaves a lot of people in the dust. Literally. What if the food that is currently used to feed animals (for food) was used instead to feed people? Check out some interesting comparisons here.  I wonder about things like, is it really a great idea to use our planet’s limited resources to feed our appetites for animal products when there is such a big cost? A cost in terms of environmental devastation – erosion, greenhouse emissions, water quality. A cost in terms of the impact on the lives, cultures, and environment of those who live in countries where Americans are buying meat to meet the demand. A cost in terms of the apathy and entitlement that many people have about these issues. Isn’t it crazy to think that some people might be going hungry while their food is being fed to animals? I don’t think most people are intentionally cruel or selfish, but I think most people are just unaware. When we know better, we do better, right? It just makes sense to me to rely more on plant-based foods as a way of better taking care of people and the planet.  Compassion in World Farming has a lot more to say about this. So does this article from Forks Over Knives.

This is a huge topic. I thought I could do a quick bullet point list and here I am hours (actually days) later trying to make this post shorter and trying to make sure I come across in a loving way! In summary, I feel that there are negative consequences from cheese consumption and cheese production on a personal level and on a much larger scale. This is why I have decided to radically reduce my participation in the whole thing.

So anyway, that’s just a little food for thought 🙂 Like I said, I am not judging anyone, and I’m not telling you to give up cheese. But . . . I would challenge everyone to at least try to reduce the amount of dairy you use. Seriously. Do any of us really need 30 pounds of cheese a year??? I feel so clogged up just thinking about it!! What if some of us reduced it to half that amount? A quarter? It would make a difference in your own health and on your footprint on the planet. Does that seem too radical? How about one meal a day without dairy? One meal a week? Instead of thinking about taking away cheese, consider adding in dairy-free substitutions. This is a mental shift that takes away the feeling of deprivation and works wonders for my clients.

There are so many delicious dairy-free products in the store these days, but they can be expensive and also not necessarily healthy if you read the ingredients. They are fun to try and handy in a pinch, but it is incredibly easy to make your own. That’s where I come in. I’m here to help! Here’s one of my many dairy-free cheez recipes that I regularly have in my fridge.

This Cultured Cashew Cheez recipe is fermented so it has a wonderful tang and also is packed with probiotics. You can skip the fermenting part if you are in a hurry and it will still be delicious. It’s super easy with no chopping required at all. Just soak the cashews and blend them with a few other ingredients and you’re good to go. This is great as a spread on crackers (try it on some Quinoa Flax Crackers or some Rainbow Za’atar  Flax Crackers) , as a dip for veggies, dolloped on pizza, or mixed with pasta or zoodles as a tangy, creamy sauce. You can also just eat it by the spoon.

Delicious Dairy Free Fermented Cultured Cashew Cheese. www.justrealstuff.com

Cultured Cashew Cheez

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cashews, soaked and drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)(optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons kraut juice from live, fermented veggies*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons white (mild) miso*
  • olive oil (optional)

* You may add the contents of a probiotic capsule if you do not have the kraut juice or miso, but it will not have the same umami-type flavor.

 

Directions:

  • Blend all ingredients in food processor until very smooth, scraping down slides until everything is incorporated. Add water to achieve the desired consistency.
  • Place in a clean glass jar or bowl with enough room to allow for some expansion (about 25% just to be safe) of the cheez as it ferments. Lay a lid on top without screwing it on so gas can get escape, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 72 hours. I usually put it on top of my refrigerator. If you live in a very warm place or if you are making this during hot days of summer, I would put it in a dark cupboard.
  • Some people find that it helps to add a thin layer of olive oil to the top of the cheez while culturing to prevent it from molding. I have not had trouble with this, but I would imagine it depends on your environment.
  • Refrigerate with the lid on tightly after it is cultured to your liking. If you used oil you can leave it on the top, pour it off or stir it in. The cheez will keep a month or longer in the fridge.

 

Enjoy!

Many Healthy Blessings,

 

 

 

 

Make your own delicious vegan, dairy-free cultured cashew cheese - www.justrealstuff.com

Cultured Cashew Cheez
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups cashews, soaked and drained
  • ¼ cup lemon juice + 2 tablespoons
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)(optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons kraut juice from live, fermented veggies*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons white (mild) miso*
  • olive oil (optional)
  • * You may add the contents of a probiotic capsule if you do not have the kraut juice or miso, but it will not have the same tangy, umami-type flavor.
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in food processor until very smooth, scraping down slides until everything is incorporated. Add water to achieve the desired consistency.
  2. Place in a clean glass jar or bowl with enough room to allow for some expansion (about 25% just to be safe) of the cheez as it ferments. Lay a lid on top without screwing it on so gas can get escape, and leave at room temperature for 12 to 72 hours. I usually put it on top of my refrigerator. If you live in a very warm place or if you are making this during hot days of summer, I would put it in a dark cupboard.
  3. Some people find that it helps to add a thin layer of olive oil to the top of the cheez while culturing to prevent it from molding. I have not had trouble with this, but I would imagine it depends on your environment.
  4. Refrigerate with the lid on tightly after it is cultured to your liking. If you used oil you can leave it on the top, pour it off or stir it in. The cheez will keep a month or longer in the fridge.

 

 

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