Nut-free Cheese Sauce

There are a million vegan cheese sauce recipes out there- and the key is to find a base that you like and make it your own based on your tastes. I have tried many cheese sauces over the years, and this recipe is basically a from memory mix up of every cheese recipe I have liked. So, thank you to all the vegan bloggers or recipe creators out there- you are my inspiration for this. 20190203_170950

This sauce is perfect for mac and cheese, or nachos, or baked potatoes. With that said, I will eat this cheese sauce on basically everything.

Let me know what you think of this recipe if you try it!

Nut-free Cheese Sauce

  • 1 medium yukon gold potato, peeled, quartered
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, cut into three pieces
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tbsp spicy mustard
  • 1 tsp each of garlic powder and onion powder 
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric 
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar 
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce
  • 1/4-1/2 cup unflavored, unsweetened plant milk (or water) 
  1. In a large pot of water, boil the potato and carrot until very tender. Remove from the water, and allow the vegetables to cool until you can handle them with bare hands.
  2. Add the first 9 ingredients into a high powered blender, along with 1/4 cup of the plant milk or water to start. Blitz together for 2 minutes adding more plant milk or water a tbsp at a time until the consistency you desire is achieved. If you are making cheese for nachos, you’ll want it thicker. If you are making mac and cheese, you’ll want it a little thinner. Taste the cheese sauce and adjust seasoning if needed. Add more nutritional yeast for more cheesy flavor, more mustard or hot sauce for more spice, etc.
  3. Pour cheese sauce into a pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes before serving.

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Cashew Cheese Sauce

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Want to impress your significant other with a dinner that looks super fancy but is actually mostly hands off and super easy to make? Of course you do!

Most of the work in this dish is the prep work- peeling, soaking, roasting. Then, while it’s20190207_175005 all in the oven, you can spend more time chatting and drinking wine. My favorite kinds of meals!

I made this meal with some farro I had in my pantry- I just cooked it according to the package directions and added in some salt and pepper and washed and dried beet leaves to wilt. You could make rice, barley, quinoa, whatever you have on hand will be perfect! 

What I love about this recipe is how versatile it is. You could also use sliced acorn squash, sliced sweet potatoes, or any other root vegetable that you like!

So, get the peeler out, crank the oven, and pop open that bottle of wine.

Roasted Beets and Carrots with Cashew Cheese Sauce

  • 4 red beets, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 4 golden beets, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • 6 large carrots, peeled, and sliced into equal size pieces
  • 1-2 tbsp oil
  • pinch each of salt, pepper, garlic powder
  • 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1.5 cup cooked grain (rice, farro, barley, quinoa) seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 2 cups washed and dried beet leaves, chopped 
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place golden beets and carrots onto 2/3 of large baking sheet. Arrange red beets on the remaining edge of the baking sheet so they don’t turn the other vegetables red while baking. Drizzle oil over the vegetables and sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic salt to taste. Bake in the oven for 50-60 minutes, flipping once after 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put cashews, parsley, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper into a high powered blender. Blitz until smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. Once the grain of choice is cooked and seasoned, add in the chopped beet leaves so they can wilt in the warm grains.
  4. Once the vegetables are finished, spread the cashew cheese sauce on the bottom of the plate, then add the grains and beet leaves in the center. Place the roasted veggies around the grains to make an instagram worthy plate! 20190210_181410

Black Bean and Fried Tofu Tacos

Tacos are literally my favorite food. Anytime someone asks me what my favorite food is, I always say tacos. If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be tacos. I am also a firm believer in the fact that anything can be a taco topping. Burgers, veggies, fruit, whatever. Put it in a tortilla, and you got yourself a winner! Do you believe me that I really love tacos yet?

I think tacos need to be colorful in order to be their best selves, so this version of a taco has some bright purple cabbage and a bright green jalapeno sauce to really liven things up. I love the use of corn tortillas here because they are lower in calories than flour tortillas, and that just means more tacos on my plate without more guilt. Duh.

These are super flexible- use just the bean sauce, or just the tofu, or make some sauteed veggies instead of the tofu, whatever makes your heart happy. You can up the spice on the sauce by using the seeds and ribs of the jalapenos, or tone it down by removing the ribs and seeds. Adam likes things mild, I like things spicy- and since I am the one cooking, it usually ends up too spicy for him. Oops! I served this meal with a side of fried plantains, because fried plantains are the bomb.

I’m going to break down this recipe into the different components, and then you can piece them together to make the perfect tacos.

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Black Bean and Fried Tofu Tacos, serves 4-6

  • 12 corn tortillas, taco size
  • black bean sauce, recipe below
  • fried tofu, recipe below 
  • 1 small head purple cabbage, sliced super thin 
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp natural sugar
  • 1-2 tsp celery salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 large avocado, sliced 
  • batch of jalapeno- cilantro sauce, recipe below 
  1. Start by mixing together the finely slice cabbage, vinegar, sugar, celery salt, and pepper. Toss and set aside to let the flavors deepen. This can also be made the day before too.
  2. Make black bean sauce, fried tofu, and jalapeno sauce.
  3. Warm corn tortillas on a hot griddle pan for 30 seconds each side. Alternatively, you can char the tortillas on a gas burner for 30 seconds each side.
  4. Start with a warmed tortilla, spread 2-3 tablespoons black bean mixture as the base. Add one or two pieces of tofu. Top with cabbage slaw, red onion, a few slices of avocado, and jalapeno sauce. Now go eat as many tacos as you please.

Black Bean Sauce 

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp each of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt, pepper
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke, optional, can add 1 tsp more chili powder instead 
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. In a large pot, mash the beans with a potato masher until almost no chunks remain. Add in spices and water and mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Cook over medium heat until heated through, or about 15 minutes. If it gets too thick, add more water a couple tablespoons at a time. It should be spreadable with a spoon, but not runny and thin.

Fried Tofu

  • 1 16 ounce package firm tofu, drained and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup rice flour 
  • 2 tsp each of salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder 
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Using a sharp knife, slice the tofu block in half. Then, slice each half block into 12 long strips. You’ll end up with 24 strips.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together the rice flour and spices. Toss the tofu a few strips at a time in the mixture, completely coating each piece of tofu.
  3. Add oil to a large pot, about half an inch from the bottom. Heat at medium-high until hot. My trick is to take a drop of water and put it in the pan- if it sizzles and pops, it’s ready. Just be careful!
  4. Carefully add tofu into the pan, a few at a time, don’t overcrowd the pot! Fry the tofu on each side until golden brown. When golden on each side, remove tofu from the pot and put on a tea towel or paper towels to drain excess oil. Optional, but delicious, you can sprinkle a little more salt on each piece after frying.
  5. Repeat until all tofu is fried.

Jalapeno Sauce

  • 2 jalapenos, ribs and seeds removed if less heat is desired
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems, 
  • juice of one lime
  • zest of half of lime
  • 1/4 cup vegan mayo 
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a high powered blender. I use a mini smoothie making blender cup when I make sauces so it blends better and the sauce doesn’t get lost in a giant blender cup. Blitz it up until completely smooth. It will take a little longer than you might think because of the cilantro- but you can’t really over mix this, so have at it!