I almost titled this piece “Freedom From Dairy!” because it is still amazing to me that there can be any kind of “cheese” that isn’t derived from an animal or expensively packaged on a dairy shelf. If you had told me this even 5 years ago I wouldn’t have believed it. And yet, here it is: We can not only have just about any kind of nondairy “milk”, “cheese”, or “eggs” — we can make almost any of this ourselves at home without endless expense, time or trouble.
But I must say, as a vegan, one of my difficulties from the beginning has been with giving up dairy products — particularly cheese. I got rid of eggs and milk long, long ago and certainly feel the healthier for it. Then a few years ago (when I was still thinking of myself as ‘vegetarian’) I let go of dairy based yogurts, kefir, and creamers. Glad I did that. They were easy to replace with even more satisfying non-dairy choices that are becoming more available nowadays.
But the sticking point for me has been cheese…
Finally, I stopped using any dairy cheeses only about a year ago and basically have been trying to just do without. But oh, how I have missed Parmesan cheese! It was my staple and my go-to for livening up any kind of vegetable, salads, pizzas, casseroles, and more. I was using Parmesan cheese instead of extra salt in many cases. But when I decided I had to completely ‘ditch the dairy’, Parmesan cheese had to go. Period.
Thankfully, there is one local health food store in the next town and I have made several trips there looking so hopefully for a non-dairy Parmesan style cheeze that wasn’t exorbitantly expensive and was also somewhat as good as the dairy kind. I didn’t find anything much except a shredded cheddar-like cheese by a company called “Daiya.” It’s pretty good (and also pretty expensive) but it still left me pining for something like Parmesan cheese everytime I made pizza or attempted to make “Parmesan encrusted Brussel sprouts” without that necessary ingredient.
Then very recently I stumbled on several make-your-own vegan cheese recipes both here on WordPress and on Pinterest. I found several specifically for making Parmesan cheeze but — Darn it! — they all are made basically from ground up Cashews! I happen to be somewhat allergic to Cashews, not deathly so, but I just don’t want to use them. So, now what?
Then I had an idea. I happened to have some almond slivers that I got on sale recently and I thought: “Why don’t I change out the Cashews for these almond slivers… and hey, I think I’m just gonna do the whole thing my way and see what happens!”
Next I hunted up this old coffee grinder I had (although any sort of food processor would work just as well, I’m sure) and I added the ingredients in the recipe below:
Almond Parmesan cheeze
1/2 cup of almond slivers for each grind
1/2 teaspoon of Tumeric for a little flavor and cheesy yellow coloring
1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (but of course any salt would do)
1 teaspoon of Garlic powder
1 ‘pinch’ of Tajin (a mexican style lime and chile seasoning available in grocery stores)
Optional: 1 spare pinch of Sriracha salt — for those who love the heat
Then I just gave it a grind until it had the same powdery consistency as Parmesan Cheese and Walla! It came out darn close!
I have now used it on Brussels sprouts (subject of an upcoming post) and it was fantastic — just like parmesan cheese but without the guilt.
I would like to point out another site called Veganista that recently did an article on the best ready made Vegan Cheeses you can buy right now. This list is actually quite eye opening in that it shows how far we’ve come in freeing ourselves from dairy and yet we are still able to enjoy many wonderful kinds of “cheese.”
Ari Solomon of Veganista also says he has his own simple recipe for Parmesan cheese which is basically ground walnuts, and a small amount of nutritive yeast and salt I believe. — Thanks, Ari!
And thank you, friendly readers, for joining me on this journey towards a more healthy and creative way of eating and living.