February 2, 2012

"Hey That's Nacho Cheeze!"

So we had nachos for dinner.  You heard me.  Frickin' nachos.  Who said vegans couldn't have fun!?!?

I came across this recipe after a friend tried it and loved it.  I have made various cheeze (it's a z instead of an s because vegans think they're better than everyone....see this post) sauces before, and liked most of them.  There are usually two components of a great, thick, cheezy sauce:  Nutritional Yeast and Cashews.

Nutritional yeast is this amazing little food - it's deactivated yeast and looks like little yellow flaky thingys:

Comes in a bag from the health food store
Nutritional yeast

Looks kind of weird and unhealthy but in fact, it's quite tasty and super healthy.  Nutritional yeast is a complete protein and is a wonderful source of vitamins, such as complex B vitamins and even B-12.  If vitamin B-12 could talk, it would say, "I'm kind of a big deal."  This is because it's the only vitamin/mineral that we need that we can't get from plants.  But don't worry, our bodies still aren't meant to consume meat and dairy.  The reason that B-12 is only found in meat flesh and dairy is because it's a microorganism found in soil and animal intestines, including our own.  However, to get the adequate amount we need, we need to also consume B-12 through food grown in good, healthy soil rich with B-12.  So, technically, we could get naturally occurring B-12.  But we'd have to eat dirt.  And last time I checked, dirt tasted like......well, dirt.  So most people get their B-12 through the animals that consume it while eating dirt, grass, etc.  But plant-based rock stars get it through fortified foods (i.e. plant-based milks, nutritional yeast) and/or supplements.  We can get absolutely every other vitamin and mineral we need naturally - but I'll save that for another post.

Nutritional yeast gives sauces, etc., a "cheesy" flavor - I often sprinkle it on popcorn too.

Cashews are a great way to make anything "creamy," but still healthy and keeping with a whole foods diet.  Instead of using butter and flour or cornstarch to make a creamy sauce base, use some cashews!!  Throw them into a food processor until they are a fine powder.  Then add your other ingredients and BAM - creamy time.  Make sure you get raw cashews - the roasted and salted ones usually have added oil and too much salt.  If you get them raw, you're only getting the fat from the cashew and you can control the amount of salt.

Okay, teaching time over.  Food time now.

Last night I made Taco Chili with Nacho Cheeze Sauce.  I should have taken pictures of this dish, but quite honestly, we ate it all before I even thought about it.  Sorry.  I'll take pictures next time (or you can find some here, with the original recipe).  This recipe is super easy and incredibly healthy.  Plus, I'm pretty sure it's kid friendly because it's nachos for God's sake!!

You could serve this chili over multi-grain tortilla chips with some Daiya cheddar cheeze, sliced olives, and the nacho cheeze sauce.  Or, like I did, you could serve it over a huge salad full of various lettuces and some cabbage for crunch, the nacho cheeze sauce and lots of avocados (like a taco salad).

I'm going to make this nacho cheeze sauce again for a vegan queso dip for parties - it would be great served with tortilla chips for the Super Bowl this weekend too!!  (*Note - don't lick the spoon, then try to lick the food processor blade like I did)


Taco Chili

(Original recipe from Oh She Glows, found here)
Yield: 7 cups

  • 2-3 tbsp veggie broth or water
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves,minced
  • 1-15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1-15 oz can black beans
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground chili powder
  • 1-5.5 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 1-28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp homemade taco seasoning (see recipe below or packaged seasoning)
    • 4 parts chili powder, 2 parts ground cumin, 1 part paprika, 1 part crushed red pepper or cayenne pepper, 1 part dried oregano, 1 part onion powder, 1 part garlic powder, 1 part salt, ½ part black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Cilantro (or 1 tsp coriander)
  • heaping 1/4 cup Nacho Cheeze Sauce (recipe below)
  • Serve with: Nacho Cheeze sauce, crushed tortilla chips, avocado, etc.


  1. Cook the onion and garlic with the broth or water in a very large skillet over low-medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the cumin, chili powder, followed by the tomato paste and frozen corn. Cook for a few minutes on low.
  3. Add the canned tomatoes and cilantro/coriander and stir well. Stir beans in and then slowly add the homemade taco seasoning (or store bought) to taste until desired taste is achieved. 
  4. Simmer on low-medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, make your cheeze sauce (below).
  5. Stir in a heaping 1/4 cup of the Nacho Cheeze Sauce and serve over salad or on it's own with crumbled tortilla chips, non-dairy cheese (Daiya), avocados, etc.
Nacho Cheeze Sauce
Yield: 1 cup

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 cup water (I ended up using double this - to thin it out)
  • 1/4 cup salsa (I used Medium heat)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Shake red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions: In a food processor, add all ingredients and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Try not to lick the blade because this stuff is GOOD!


  1. Hello! A friend recommended this blog to me. I think perhaps you guys know people I know? Sandra D and Dawn A W? (my dad's cousin's daughter) Anyway, I recently went cheese free after being sick basically from Thanksgiving on. I was desperate. I made it to day three and then caved, I ordered pizza. I threw up said pizza. Starting over. Although I’ve known many vegetarians and vegans through my life I’ve never been one. Like Ann, I find them preachy and snobby. Now I just may be joining them! I was planning on only going dairy free, but as I told my husband tonight, I might as well go all the way and cut out meat too. I know it’s healthier. Thanks for the great recipe ideas, I copied down several for later use. Now I need a vitamix. OK, maybe we’ll wait on that one and start with a food processor.

    1. Hi Holly! Sorry you were having those problems - but know that you're not alone. So many people have trouble digesting dairy - and they don't even know it. I had a hard time giving up the cheese at first, and now, it makes my stomach turn. Once you start transitioning your meals, your taste and palette will change, and it will get easier and easier.

      Next time you're craving pizza, try buying a whole grain crust and top with your favorite marinara sauce and load it with veggies. OR if you're feeling naughty, top it will just a little Daiya mozzarella cheese (so good!). Crisis averted! (Amy's brand also make an awesome cheese-less vegan pizza with artichokes, onions and peppers. So good, quick and easy).

      The label "vegan" is hard for some people - I totally get that. Try to focus less on the label and the foods you can't eat, and more on the foods you CAN eat. That helped me in the beginning as well. I started trying different veggies that I never used to eat, different grains (like quinoa, brown rice pasta). And the very best part, is that feeling good is totally addicting!! It's like built-in motivation :)

      We'll keep the recipes comin! Let me know if you want to read about anything in particular! Best of luck Holly!!

  2. You know these posts are worthless without pics of the finished product. Right?

  3. I may not go all the way yet but I am off red meat , for now ( one step at a time).

    1. "To get through the hardest journey we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping." – Chinese Proverb

      Take it slow and let us know if there's anything we can do to help - or if there are any recipes you'd like to read about! Thanks! :)