I am having a lot of fun making different dishes and snacks dairy-free. For the most part, as with my gluten-free or even vegan cooking, I have just been cooking around it, enjoying things that are naturally such, I don’t usually make tons of substitutions with weird processed things like fake cheeses or fake meats, etc. Even though I think that some dairy-free cheeses (like Daiya) might be nice for the occasional special treat if I really feel like I am missing out or want some cheese, I usually just get really creeped out by how much weird stuff are those types of foods. Many times you read the package and you don’t even know what the ingredients are, you can’t pronounce them, etc.
I was craving a delicious Italian-style pasta dish the other night, so I made gluten-free penne with a creamy roasted tomato and basil sauce. No cheese or dairy! The creaminess came from soaked cashews and I added in a little nutritional yeast for the nutty/cheesy flavor it brings. It was so perfectly delicious and it really hit the spot. I didn’t miss the dairy one bit. There is always the option of using nut milks instead of dairy milk in recipes, which I have been doing for a long time when making, but it doesn’t always give you that super creamy cheese-like texture when cooking, so that is where raw nuts have been coming in handy for me.
I did some serious cooking, baking and making over this weekend. I made my first ever batch of Kombucha, which I cannot wait to try, I love that stuff. I also made gluten-free, dairy-free refined sugar-free chocolate donuts for breakfast yesterday in my new donut pan (recipe coming soon) and all of my Super Bowl treats. We watched the Super Bowl last night at my parents’ with my family and some friends, so I decided to experiment a little with my Super Bowl snacks, making things that not only I would eat, but that would still appeal to everyone else. So, I made three different things: this creamy spinach dip, a creamy eggplant and roasted red pepper dip and Thai Meatballs (made from some grass-fed beef from our local farmer) with a red curry peanut sauce. I will be posting the eggplant dip likely tomorrow so look for that. As for the meatballs, I basically just altered this recipe to be gluten-free and I used some of our lean grass-fed ground beef from the half cow that we shared with my parents. I was really excited to find a meatball recipe that wouldn’t need any cheese of some sort, since I was initially playing with the idea of making regular Italian style meatballs. They were so delicious! I really recommend that recipe.
I served the two dips with tons of fresh cut raw veggies, regular whole grain crackers and some Mary’s Gone Crackers Black Pepper Crackers for me. Both the dips were enjoyed by everyone and the meatballs FLEW off the plate. This particular dip is so creamy, you would swear it had ricotta cheese in it. It has a nice flavor from the garlic and the nutritional yeast brings an almost “cheesy” taste. Nutritional yeast is low in sodium and it is one of the few non-animal sources of B-12, it is rich in folic acid and many other nutrients and amino acids. This is not your typical yeast and is free of the Candida Albicans strain, making it safe for those concerned with candida. Per ounce nutritional yeast packs in 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
I’ll be honest, I did a lot more gabbing and snack-eating then football watching last night. We did manage to keep quiet through the half-time show, which I thought was just so-so. I love old-school Madonna and was excited to hear some of the old hits but that is about it. I was a bit let down, it didn’t do it for me. Though I did make it a point to listen to all of her old albums today on Spotify to make up for it!
Did you watch the Super Bowl? What did you think of the half-time show? What foods did you make or eat?
[print_this]Creamy Dairy-Free Spinach Dip (vegan, raw, gluten-free)
1 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked for 1 to 3 hours and drained
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1-2 tablespoons of water
4 cups baby spinach (split to 3 cups and 1 cup, roughly chop the 1 cup)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Add the cashews, garlic and nutritional yeast to the food processor, puree until thick, creamy and smooth. You can add a tablespoon or two of water to the mixture as needed to make it more creamy. Add 3 cups of the spinach and continue pureeing until smooth. Fold in the remaining chopped spinach and stir by hand to combine. Pour the creamy spinach mixture into a serving dish and serve with fresh cut raw veggies, tortilla chips, crackers, toasted bread, etc.