“Un-Cheese” Dip (Without the Cheese!)

Cheese is one of my favorite things (next to chocolate), and I probably eat some form of cheese most days of the week…cheddar, feta, mozzarella, bleu…I love them all!

One thing my husband and I love to do is order queso at a Mexican restaurant…I have no self control! We don’t do this very often, but when we do, I eat too much and usually feel bloated, wishing I had enjoyed it in moderation versus licking the bowl…

While I am not vegan, I do enjoy switching out animal based foods with plant based foods wherever I can! This recipe uses raw cashews, nutritional yeast, peppers, and tahini to create a similar alternative to dairy cheese dip.

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What’s Nutritional Yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a vegetarian dietary supplement rich in vitamin B-12 with a faint cheesy flavor–similar to Parmesan. It is a single-cell organism grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to make the yeast inactive (meaning it has no leavening properties).  According to the USDA Nutrition Database, 1/4 cup serving contains 60 calories, 8 grams of protein, 0.5 grams of fat, 5 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and numerous vitamins and minerals including iron, niacin, vitamin B 12, and other B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is one of the few plant-based sources containing vitamin B 12 without fortification.

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What I love about this dip?

A typical serving of traditional queso at a restaurant is 2 tablespoons with 60 calories, 4 grams of fat (mostly saturated fat), 3 grams of protein and no fiber.

Traditional Queso Nutrition Facts (according to MyFitnessPal)

Serving Size: 2 Tablespoons
Calories 60
Total Fat 4 g
Sodium 200 mg
Total Carbohydrate 2 g
   Fiber 0 g
   Sugar 2 g
Protein 3 g

Vitamin A: 2%   Calcium: 8%

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My “Un-Cheese” Vegan Cheese Dip has just 64 calories per 1/2 cup serving with 3 grams of fat (mostly unsaturated, heart healthy fats), 3 grams of protein and 1 gram of fiber. What a nutritional win!

  “Un-Cheese” Nutrition Facts (Tracked in MyFitnessPal)

Servings: 8 servings Serving Size: ½ cup
Calories 64
Total Fat 3 g
Sodium 149 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8 g
    Fiber 1 g
    Sugar 2 g
Protein 3 g

Vitamin A: 9%   Vitamin C: 20%   Calcium: 3%   Iron: 5%

 

You can eat over twice the amount of traditional queso when swapping to “Un-Cheese” dip with less saturated fat, sodium and more fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Iron. It’s a nutritional win!

You can get the full PRINTABLE recipe below. Make sure you tag me @livebetterwithkatdetter in you creations!

 

Un-Cheese Dip

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1-4 ounce jar of pimentos
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 Tbs cornstarch
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs tahini
  • 1 can (15 ounce) of Rotel (I use mild because my palate is weak) 🙂
  • 2 cups of water, divided

Directions:

  1. Soak cashews in 1/2 cup of water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. After cashews have been soaked, add them to a high powered blender with pimentos, nutritional yeast, salt, onion powder, cornstarch, lemon juice, tahini, Rotal, and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of water.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Add mixture to a sauce pan and simmer for ~10 minutes until un-cheese gets bubbly and thick.
  5. Serve with fresh veggies or your favorite dipping chip! Would also be good on salads and tacos.
  6. Enjoy!

 

I hope you love this dip as much as I do! While enjoying “the real stuff” is good every now and then, finding healthier, more nutrient dense options THAT TASTE GOOD is the way to go.

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

Follow me on social media!

@livebetterwithkatdetter

 

 

 

References:
  1. Ndb.nal.usda.gov. (2019). Food Composition Databases Show Foods — LARGE FLAKE NUTRITIONAL YEAST, UPC: 039978025463. [online] Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/45360902 [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].
  2. Myfitnesspal.com. (2019). Calorie Chart, Nutrition Facts, Calories in Food | MyFitnessPal | MyFitnessPal.com. [online] Available at: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/mexican-cheese-dip-441450166 [Accessed 6 Jun.
  3. Myfitnesspal.com. (2019). Free Calorie Counter, Diet & Exercise Journal | MyFitnessPal.com. [online] Available at: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/recipe/view/67379228593837 [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].

Going Plant Based: Tofu

If you’re looking for another #meatlessmonday meal idea, look no further! This Ginger Tofu Stir Fry is SO good that you won’t miss that meat!

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Tofu is a bean curd made from soybeans used mainly in Asian and vegetarian cuisines. I was about 10 years old the first time I tried tofu and I HATED it…I didn’t like the texture, consistency, or taste…

Fast forward ~14 years and it is one of my favorite protein sources–and I truly believe it is all in how you prepare it. My favorite kind of tofu is extra firm which is found in most grocery stores. The key is straining the liquid out as much as possible. My most used method is placing the tofu block in a clean dish towel (or paper towels) and wedging between 2 small plates. For time effectiveness, I add a heavy canned food item on top to really squeeze out the excess moisture. I let this sit for at least 30 minutes to get as much water out as possible.

Once the moisture is out of the tofu, I cut it up and place it in my marinade. Adding 1 tablespoon of cornstarch really makes a difference in cooking tofu as well–it gives it a crunchier texture after its  been baked.

What’s good about tofu?

According to the USDA nutrition database, a 1/2 cup serving of tofu contains 94 calories, ~10 grams of protein, ~6 grams of fat, 2.32 grams of carbohydrates, 0.4 grams of fiber and numerous minerals including calcium and iron. While animal protein is a fine choice, tofu is lower in calories, saturated fat and contains fiber (which no animal protein source contains). A 2017 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition concluded that consuming ~3% less animal protein and replacing it with plant protein potentially results in 19% lower risk of death from a chronic illness. Incorporating more plant based proteins (and foods) into your diet may help decrease development of chronic diseases resulting in longevity.

 

On to the meal recipe! This Ginger Tofu Stir fry can be whipped up in no time as long as you have your ingredients prepped! Biggest tip: cut up all your veggies ahead of time so you can just throw it all into the wok.

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Ginger Tofu Stir Fry

  • Servings: 4 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

Marinade:

  • 1 block of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoon Ginger Dressing (I used Makoto’s brand-only 1 gram sugar per 2 T)
  • 1 Tablespoon Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground Black Pepper

Stir Fry:

  • 1.5 cups of Asparagus (washed and chopped)
  • 1 cup of Broccoli florets (washed)
  • 2 medium Zucchini (washed and chopped into half moons)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter (or oil of choice)
  • 1/4 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce

Directions:

  1. Squeeze out excess moisture from tofu (directions found above in blog post). Let sit for 30 minutes. Cut tofu block into cubes.
  2. Put tofu in mixing bowl and add cornstarch, ginger dressing, low sodium soy sauce and black pepper. Stir and let sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes on each side.
  4. In the meantime, stir fry your veggies using a wok. Add butter and garlic to wok. Add asparagus in first (as it takes longest to cook). Then add broccoli and water, cover and allow to steam until tender. Add zucchini last, uncover to let moisture evaporate.
  5. Add low sodium soy sauce and let simmer.
  6. Add baked ginger tofu to stir fry. Serve over brown rice + cauliflower rice, or your favorite starch.
  7. Enjoy!

You can truly make this meal versatile by adding different veggies to it.

Some other suggestions:

  • bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • onion
  • water chestnuts
  • baby corn
  • squash
  • cauliflower
  • bamboo shoots
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • bok choy

This meal is 100% hubs approved, so try it for your family the next time you wanna incorporate some plant based proteins! This recipe makes great left overs, too! 🙂

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

follow me on social media!

@livebetterwithkatdetter

 

 

References:
  1. Ndb.nal.usda.gov. (2019). Food Composition Databases Show Foods — Tofu, raw, regular, prepared with calcium sulfate. [online] Available at: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=16427 [Accessed 3 Jun. 2019].
  2. Monique Tello, M. (2019). Eat more plants, fewer animals – Harvard Health Blog. [online] Harvard Health Blog. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/eat-more-plants-fewer-animals-2018112915198 [Accessed 3 Jun. 2019].
  3. Micha, R., Peñalvo, J., Cudhea, F., Imamura, F., Rehm, C. and Mozaffarian, D. (2019). Association Between Dietary Factors and Mortality From Heart Disease, Stroke, and Type 2 Diabetes in the United States.