Superbowl Snack - Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip
Well, it's that time of year again. SUPERBOWL! So if you're invited to a party, and you have absolutely no clue what to bring, let me share one of my absolute favorite vegan recipes - vegan nacho cheese dip! I've had a deep love affair with nachos for a long time, but this takes the humble nacho into a much healthier territory.
I love making this because to me, it tastes just like real cheese dip. Seriously.
And sure, you can totally blame me if it doesn't go over so well with your friends. But, if you don't tell them it's vegan...will they ever know? :)
The first time I heard about making a "cheese" sauce from, cashews and nutritional yeast, I thought it was the weirdest thing ever.
Okay stick with me for a second. Nutritional yeast, in case you're wondering what in the world I'm talking about, is a deactivated yeast, containing minerals and B-complex vitamins. It comes in the form of flakes or yellow powder and since it has such a distinctive "nutty" or "cheesy" flavor, it's used in vegan and vegetarian food quite often. You can buy it online or at health food stores.
Now, back to business!
Once I made the decision to omit gluten, sugar and dairy from my kitchen, I knew I had to get even more creative with food. I'll tell you though, as I started playing around with these basic "nut cheese" recipes, I'd realized what I had been missing out. Blending cashews turns into this rich, creamy sauce and adding in the cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast, onion, salsa, mustard and tumeric, you get this heavenly smooth nacho-worthy sauce. Adding in chopped pickled jalapenos, just sends it over the edge.
So, do I miss real cheese? Sure, sometimes. But, this definitely feeds my craving since it's so close to the original, and plus, no tummy issues!
Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
Makes approximately 4 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
2 large handfuls of raw cashews
I buy cashew pieces in bulk from Whole Foods, since they're cheaper than the whole cashews, but either one works
4 cups of filtered water
4 tbsp. of nutritional yeast
You can buy online or at health food stores
4 big squeezes of mustard
I like the jalapeno mustard at the grocery store, but you can use dijon, or even yellow musard, if you don't want the sauce to be too spicy
3/4 cup of salsa
Choose the one you like best - mild, chunky, hot - they all work (okay, maybe not the peach salsa...)
2 tsp. of onion flakes
2 tsp. of granulated garlic
2 tsp. of turmeric
This is really just for color to make that orangey-colored sauce. Turmeric has great anti-inflammatory properties, but if you don't have it on hand, the sauce comes out great anyway
2 tbsp of potato starch to thicken the sauce (optional, if you don't have a high-speed blender)
1. Add cashews, water, nutritional yeast, mustard, salsa, onion, garlic and turmeric into a high-speed blender. I use a Vitamix and it's amazing how it blends so well and the sauce comes out piping hot. Just make sure it's a good blender.
2. Blend for about 5 minutes until the sauce starts to get thick and creamy.
3. Turn the blender to low and add in the potato starch, if using.
4. Turn the blender back up to high and blend until you hear a slight "chugging" sound, about 2 more minutes - you'll really start to see the sauce thicken up, and don't worry, your blender won't break.
5. That's it! Pour directly onto tortilla chips, into a bowl for dipping, or even on macaroni for vegan nacho mac 'n cheese!
(Okay, side note here...I'm using Boulder Canyon Avocado Oil chips in this photo. They are AMAZING! And, I love that they're only made with potatoes, avocado oil and sea salt! My new favorite "healthy" potato chip).