I’m go right out and admit that I’m usually scared of recipes for vegan “cheese.” They usually contain processed ingredients, including soy protein, questionable thickeners (such as carrageenan), and a lot of (often GMO) oils. Recently, however, many healthier vegan “cheese” recipes have intrigued me. Lindsay of Pinch of Yum has created a Creamy Cauliflower Sauce, Jeanine of Love and Lemons made Cauliflower Mac & Cheese and Angela of Oh She Glows has made Cauli-power Fettuccine Alfredo. The common denominator? Cauliflower and wholesome, real ingredients. Nothing processed. So I set out to create my take on cauliflower vegan “cheese,” nacho style.
WHY IT’S HEALTHY// Nachos really aren’t supposed to be healthy, right? These ones are. The nacho cheese sauce is made with real, wholesome ingredients that are actually beneficial for your body. Cashews are full of healthy fats particularly oleic acid, which is the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. Cashews are also great for hair, skin and bone health due to their copper and magnesium content. Cauliflower is high is glucosinolates, compounds containing sulfer, that may help lower the risk of cancer. Cauliflower is also high in Vitamin C, which your body needs to produce collagen (think healthy skin, teeth and bones). Cauliflower also adds vitamin K to your diet, an essential vitamin. This vegan nacho cheese is also full of beneficial spices and flavorings: garlic, peppers, paprika, and cumin all have anti-inflammatory properties as well as many other health benefits.//
To make healthy nachos with your vegan nacho cheese sauce, add only real, nutritious ingredients. Here are some suggestions:
refried beans / jalapeno peppers / black olives / black beans / fresh tomato / tomato salsa / avocado / cilantro / guacamole / red onion / white onion / radishes / squeeze of lime
Instead of tortilla chips (I used whole organic corn chips, baked), you could try these toppings on baked sweet potato fries, a baked potato or even on top of a salad.
- ¼ cup oil (palm oil or unscented coconut oil work best)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- ½ jalapeño pepper, seeded removed and chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper adobo sauce
- 4 oz of cauliflower florets, boiled for 8 minutes
- 4 oz roasted cashews
- ½ cup water (plus more at the end)
- ½ cup non-dairy milk (easy semi-homemade coconut milk)
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons pickling liquid from can of picked jalapeño peppers
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
- salt to taste
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add onions, garlic, and jalapeños and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes.
- Add in cumin, paprika, garlic powder, chipotle and adobo sauce and cook for another minute.
- Add boiled cauliflower, cashews, water and non-dairy milk. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Transfer mixture to a high powered blender (Vitamix), add hot sauce, jalapeño pickling liquid, nutritional yeast (if using) and salt.
- Start on low speed and slowly increase to high until completely smooth, about 2 minutes.
- Add more water to thin to desired consistency (I added ⅓ cup more) and season with more salt.
- Make nachos!