How to make it cool and creamy. . . and vegan!

So, I’m not really a vegan (I’ll do a post about my diet philosphy some day) but I do believe in eating mostly plant-based. So, I the question is, rules or no,

how can I make something creamy, delicious, and satisfying if I’m trying to cut down on animal protein?

There’s lots of reasons you might be off cheese, cream, yogurt, butter. . . just read The China Study? Thinking about animal welfare? Lactose intolerant? Friends with vegans? Dabbling in veganism? Whatever it is, it can be hard to sustain a dairy-free kick if you’re new to it. You dream of alfredo. . . nachos. . . ok. We don’t need to go down that road.

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There are some secret weapons in the plant-arsenal that deliver creamy.

Have you tried:

  • For smoothies:
    • frozen bananas (seriously. peel, freeze. you can cut ‘em up, or not!)
    • avocado
    • Soft or silken tofu (the first time I tried this, I was surprised by the overall lack of sweetness. . . so think about what else you’re throwing in there!)
    • frozen peaches (these add less body than some other options, but still gives it a nice body).
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  • For sauces and soups and dressings, oh my:
    • Cashews! I can’t sing the praises of cashews enough. It works best if you soak them for at least a few hours, and a really good blender smooths things over (HA). But then you can blend them with liquid any kind of seasonings and veggies you want. Try adding butternut squash, dried tomatoes, roasted peppers. . .  the cashews themselves don’t add much flavor, but they create that elusive creaminess perfectly.
    • Sunflower seeds. Same general effect! Also try pumpkin seeds.
    • Avocados, again. Making enchiladas? Hold the cheese, and when you pull ‘em out of the oven, spread with a “cream” of avocado blended with cilantro, a little water, some chillis. . .
    • Soft or silken tofu works here, too— this’ll work in any blender, not just a fancy one.
    • Roasted & blended cauliflower. Sounds weird. Works like a charm— especially good for soup. Blend with some water or veg broth.
  • For desert:
    • I know I said this already, but frozen bananas! Pop ‘em in the blender or the food processor. It makes a lot of noise, but once smooth, your ice cream craving will be conquored. Try it. It’ll change your life.
    • Chia seeds. I know. But they absorb liquid and take on this consistency that you’ll swear is regular old pudding. Google “chia pudding”— you’ll find lots of great recipes.
    • Non-dairy milk— a no-brainer, but a lot of what works with milk works with these. Soy, almond, hemp, rice, coconut. . . you get the idea.

Are you seeing a pattern here? So, yeah, you need a blender— a lot of this will work with whatever blender you have. A regular blender will require more time, and maybe a little more liquid. If you are really into it, my experience is that a high-powered blender makes a difference. We got a Vitamix a few years ago after our Oster blender crapped out. It gets used at least once a day— usually more— and it can blend anything (will it blend??). I also hear good things about Blendtec and Ninja blenders.

Ok, you say, but give me recipes! I am not myself a great recipe developer (yet?). Can I point you to some good resources?

—> Go Isa! This lady is the queen of vegan food that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. Try her blog, or her most recent book, Isa Does It. Lots of winners— haven’t found a dud yet.

—> Eat To Live, and the Eat To Live cookbook. I know, it doesn’t sound like a winner for mouth-watering comfort food— but try some of the dips and dressings!

—> Try Susan Voisin’s recipe blog. Something for everyone— and A LOT of things to try!

What are your favorites?

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