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Vegan Queso Cheese Dip

By Crystal Baldwin

Step aside velveeta & cheddar cheese, this healthy alternative is creamy, flavorful, spicy (if you want) and oh so cheesy and it's actually good for you!

No more guilt with this queso recipe, it is full of vegetables, healthy fats and protein so, you can eat till your heart's content and you can feel good about what you are eating! 

So what exactly is in this vegan queso?  The main ingredient here is sweet potatoes!  Don't worry, if your not wild about he taste or texture of a sweet potato, this dish gets so transformed you can't even tell it is full of them.  It just becomes creamy, smooth textured and full of spices and flavor.

What else is in this dish?  Cashews add protein and dairy-free fats (no butter here), more fiber and another layer of creamy goodness.  These are soaked in boiling water and then blended into a cream of course so again, you will never know they are there.  Add fire roasted tomatoes, hatch green chilis, garlic, jalapenos, smoked paprika and even some beer (optional) and you are on your way with flavor.

So, what gives this a cheesy flavor you might ask?  The answer is simple- nutritional yeast.  This ingredient is a must have for this recipe - don't skip it.  Besides creating that savory, cheesy, umami flavor, nutritional yeast is good for you - helping to boost your immune system and may even lower cholesterol...something cheddar cheese does not do!

What exactly is nutritional yeast?  It is an unactivated version of regular yeast that you might use to make bread however, it will not rise.  Don't try using it for your dinner rolls or they will be flat and a little bitter tasting.  Also, don't use regular yeast in this recipe...or it will be a bubbling mess that won't taste like cheese.

Nutritional yeast is also full of trace minerals, protein and fortified with B vitamins.  It looks like flat flakes and has a yellow color - which reminds you of cheese.  You can sprinkle it on popcorn or veggies and its' perfect for this cheesy, queso recipe.  Who would think that sweet potatoes, cashews, nutritional yeast and some other veggies and spices would turn into this beautiful, creamy, golden cheese like queso?

Vegan Queso Cheese Dip   

 

  • 1 Cup Cooked Sweet Potato Peeled
  • 1 Cup Raw, unsalted Cashews
  • Water (or replace with beer or near bear)
  • 2-3 Cloves of roughly chopped fresh garlic
  • 2- Tablespoons Fire Roasted Canned Chopped Tomatoes- more to taste
  • Juice of 2 fresh limes
  • ¼ Cup of Nutritional Yeast (for cheese flavor -don’t skip this)
  • 1-3 Fresh Jalapenos
  • ¼ -½  Cup of canned Hatch Green chilies
  • Sea Salt to Taste (don’t be shy as it brings out the flavors)
  • Black Pepper to Taste
  • ½-1 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • Sprinkle of Cumin
  • 1-2 Teaspoons of chili Powder (to taste)
  • ½-2 Teaspoons of Cayenne Powder (to taste)
  • 1-2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  • A sprinkle of Onion Powder
  • Fresh Tomatoes, Jalapenos, cilantro & onions to top the Cheese (all are optional)

Directions:

  1. Pour boiling water over the cashews, cover and let sit 40-60 minutes to soften, strain, rinse & strain again.
  2. Bake or cook the sweet potato, peel, cube and set aside
  3. Chop the jalapeno & juice the limes
  4. Place in a Vitamix or high-powered blender; sweet potatoes, cashews, lime juice, garlic, 2-4 Tablespoons of Roasted Fire Tomatoes and 2-4 Tablespoons of the fire roasted tomato juice, ¼ to ½ Cup of beer or more to taste (optional, you can use water or more tomato juice depending on the taste you want), add hatch green chilies, fresh jalapeno, all powdered spices. *note for jalapeno flavor but less heat, remove the seeds and spines of the jalapeno.
  5. Blend until very smooth (note- you will need a high powered blender to make this smooth)
  6. Go slow with the liquids to keep the queso thick and creamy. Add fluids a little at a time.

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Add beer, tomato juice and tomatoes to your taste or water if you want less tomato taste and to get it to just start blending. 

  1. Taste and customize to your preference…more cayenne & chili powder for more heat, salt & pepper to taste, (salt will bring out flavors), smoky paprika for more smoke flavor.
  2. Feel free to add some spoonfuls of canned tomatoes at the end and stir for color and more tomato taste.
  3. Top with fresh chopped tomatoes, jalapeno, spring, red or regular onions
  4. Serve with fresh chopped veggie or chips

This Queso is unbelievably good…it’s hard to tell it doesn’t have any cheese in it!  My cheese-eating friends even like this dip. Remember - don't skip the nutritional yeast or it will not have the cheese flavor.  I still feel guilty when I eat it since it tastes so much like the real thing…but it’s not the real thing - enjoy!

 

 




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