Thursday, 15 July 2010

Say "Cheez!"

I've recently been foraging about for some kind of satisfactory cheese substitute. All the current versions on the market seem to have vegetable oil in, which probably lends it that nice smooth consistency, but is useless to someone who has to avoid eating it!

I came across this genius book: The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, by Jo Stepaniak and I'm working my way through the awesome and hugely creative recipes. They basically use a really eclectic mix of ingredients including garlic and onion powders, cashew nuts and something I'd never heard of before called "nutritional yeast" to replicate the highly unique flavours in cheese. (Nutritional Yeast is nothing like brewers yeast, it has the tang of yeast extract in Marmite.) In the rather messy but fun mixing process, you also add boiled up Agar flakes to gel it all together and get it to set (as you'll see in the picture, it really looks quite pleasing). Admittedly, it's really almost impossible to imitate that particular rubbery texture because that would involve adding casein. I'm not sure where I can get my hands on some, but if I could I would put it in (although I rather enjoy my mostly vegan diet).

Anyway, so I've tried this cheese now, which in the book is listed as Colby Cheez, and it works for me. You can cut it, grill it, melt it, even. I like to eat it in a sandwich with cucumber and just pretend it's actually cheesy. It's close, but no cheese biscuit.

Give it a try!

You'll need:

1 1/2 cups of water
5 tbsps of agar flakes (or 1.5 tablespoons of agar powder)
0.5 cup of roasted red peppers
0.5 cup of chopped raw cashews
0.25 cup of nutritional yeast flakes
3 tbsps lemon juice
2 tbsps tahini
2 tsps onion powder
1 tsp salt
0.25 tsp of garlic powder
0.25 tsp dry mustard

Phew - little bit like a chemistry experiment, eh? It's verrry easy from hereon in...

So, you'll also need a 3 cup plastic storage container to set the cheese in.

1. In a small saucepan, mix the water and agar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and stir constantly until the agar is dissolved - this will take up to ten minutes.
2. Pour into your food processor and add everything else!
3. Process it for maybe five minutes, stopping every now and then to scrape down the sides of the mixer. Ensure it's really smooth.
4. Pour into the container and leave it to cool in the fridge, uncovered.
5. Once cooled, cover and leave overnight.
6. Eat! You can melt it, slice it, serve it with crackers and grapes!

Leftovers allegedly last up to five days. Yeah, like they have a chance....


  1. Hi! I found your blog while trying to find recipes with no saturated fat. I've just finished Jelinek's book and am trying to re-adjust my diet accordingly. Your recipes are great and I'll definitely be back to check out more. Thanks! Gillian

  2. I've made the cheez now. It's a bit like a firm pate; very useful to have something to go with bread, ryvita etc for lunch. It really tastes quite good (though family seem to leave it for me). Thanks for the recipe, I'll be using it again.

  3. Please post some more - I've also just finished Jelinek's book but was despairing of having the willpower to make the changes I know at heart I need to - it's blogs like these that give me the practical help to actually do it - the few recipes that you have put up here have made me feel excited about trying something new!

  4. AMAZING receipes! Please post more - thanks!!

  5. Hi!
    Thanks for dropping by my blog
    My ex husband has been able to keep his fybromylagia at bay by switching to a vegetarian diet It also helped lower his cholesterol

    Like the cheese recipe