A few months ago, I seem to have stumbled upon having an adult on-set allergy to the milk protein casein. It's apparently very common for adults to suddenly become allergic to this substance. I'm still waiting for an allergy test to confirm this, but the flaming rash on my hands that lingers for a week, after ingesting any kind of dairy, would seem to indicate that I have a milk allergy.
Oh, it's been a tough transition for this cooking mama, trying to work around recipes calling for things as simple as butter. I thank wonderful companies like the makers of Earth Balance vegan margarine, Rice Dream rice milk, and of course, my favorite Publix Greenwise soy milk for helping to make this transition easier :)
Just when I thought I'd never again experience the ooey goodness of melted cheese, I started reading about an intriguing ingredient: nutritional yeast. Also called vegetarian yeast, the one from the famous Bob's Red Mill brand got rave reviews on Amazon.com. Many were singing the praises of this long-lived, yellowy powdered yeast, that has been around since at least ancient Egyptian times. Sprinkled on popcorn or hot pasta, or stirred into a sauce, this nutrient-packed yeast adds a surprisingly good nutty and cheesy flavor, all without the dairy! This all-natural substance is packed with B-vitamins, and is also serves as a source of complete protein!
Nutritional yeast keeps very well in the freezer, so I went ahead and ordered a full case. My shipment of four packages of Bob's Red Mill large-flake variety nutritional food yeast arrived today from Amazon, and I couldn't wait to try it out. This recipe for Nutritional Yeast Queso Sauce from VegWeb.com looked simple, yet delicious. I added a few tweaks, as we like our nacho dips a little chunkier, and this is what I came up with:
1/4 cup nutritional yeast1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder1 cup water
2 tbsp Earth Balance dairy-free margarine
1 cup fresh salsa0.5 tsp rice vinegar (optional - for that tangy flavor)
Organic corn tortilla chips for dipping
In a sauce pan, over medium heat, combine the first five ingredients, toasting them for about a minute. Whisk in one cup of cold water. Continue to whisk over medium heat, until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble.
Remove the sauce pan from the heat, and whisk in the margarine, followed by the salsa and rice vinegar.
Return the sauce pan to the stove, and continue stirring until heated through.
Serve warm with tortilla chips for dipping.
According to the green organic kids panel (aka my daughter), the verdict is "Yum!" :D I guess hubby didn't hear me when I said this was made with "fake cheese", and he didn't even notice the difference! We thoroughly enjoyed this as a dip, with Publix Greenwise organic blue corn tortilla chips.
Now on a side note, please, do not confuse nutritional yeast with any other kind of yeast (dry active yeast for baking, Brewer's yeast, etc). They are NOT the same thing, and will not yield the same results. Your local health food store or organic grocery store should carry nutritional yeast; either in flake or powder form. I do plan to make my own yeast powder from these large flakes, by grinding some in my food processor. Powdered nutritional yeast is supposed to be a great condiment, and we'll be using that in place of Parmesan cheese on our pasta and veggies. We'll be sure to test out more recipes for things like "cheeze" spread, and we'll be posting our recipes and results. We love our new dairy-free cheese alternative :D
Bob's Red Mill Nutritional Food Yeast image courtesy of BobsRedMill.com