Dairy-Free Cheese

Cheese and I had a special bond for many years. It was my go-to quick afternoon snack that kept me going until dinner. At some point I’d even read an article that influenced me to eat a piece of cheese before dining out at a restaurant. That one piece was supposed to prevent me from over-eating. I stuck to this rule for years and I think all it did was make me constipated.

I gave up most dairy in 2007 and felt incredible. Until that year, my body had been inundated with lactose, which I did not have the ability to metabolize. Cheese was one of the last foods I completely eliminated though. I just couldn’t give up the cheesy goodness. I held onto it for as long as I could, then I had to face the facts. My body hates all dairy. I cut it out slowly, still eating goat cheese from time to time. I knew my body didn’t need it but I kept going back for more. Why couldn’t I break this habit?

Is Cheese Addictive?

Cheese is an addiction. It is actually a scientific fact. The compounds in cheese alter our brain chemistry. Seems crazy, right? Definitely, but you can’t argue with science. Compounds called casomorphins are concentrated in cheese and when they are broken down by digestion they have a drug-like response in the brain. Our brains on cheese is similar to a junkie looking for his next hit. If you want a more in-depth look at the effects of cheese on the brain, check out Steph’s post at StupidEasyPaleo.com.

And it’s important to note that these casomorphins are also shown to slow intestinal movements, which is why I was frequently challenged in the bathroom department after eating cheese.

I still miss cheese though. It’s so easy, so portable and easily enhances any recipe. There are cheese alternatives out there, although they are either made from soy protein or some kind of nut/seed. I keep these foods out of my diet and I didn’t think there was another option. Until I met Hayley via Instagram. Hayley made cheese out of vegetables! Now that’s something I can get into.

The secret ingredient in this vegetable cheese is the nutritional yeast.

What is Nutritional Yeast? 

It provides that cheesy flavor we all crave. Andrea Cespedes describes it as:

“Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing a yeast in a nutrient medium for several days. The primary ingredient in the growth medium is glucose, often from either sugarcane or beet molasses. When the yeast is ready, it is killed (deactivated) with heat and then harvested, washed, dried and packaged.”

Just two tablespoons provides 9 grams of protein and is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also a good source of selenium and potassium.

With Hayley’s recipe I’ll never have to long for cheese again. This is quick to make and can be sliced, grated, crumbled or melted.

Dairy-Free Cheese

Makes 12 slices.

1 cup zucchini – chopped
2 tbsp carrot – grated
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp gelatin  – I use Great Lakes brand

►Line a 9×9″ dish with parchment paper.
►Bring 1/4 cup water to boil. Add zucchini and carrot. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
►Drain water and veggies through a colander. Place veggies in a food processor with oil, lemon, salt and nutritional yeast. ►Pulse until fully combined then add the gelatin. Pulse to distribute the gelatin throughout.
►Pour into prepared dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

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