- Melissa Ieraci
Dairy-Free Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese
If you or your loved ones have ongoing digestive troubles you know what a huge impact digestive health has on your quality of life. Bloating, gas, stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea or indigestion are just some of the issues you may be experiencing on a daily basis. These symptoms are painful, disruptive and unpredictable which make it difficult to plan and be spontaneous for fear of what your stomach may do.
You may be suspicious that certain foods are the culprit to your many digestive woes, however it difficult to pin-point exactly what foods are the problem. This is not an unusual complaint for those with digestive issues because unlike a true food allergy that triggers an immune response immediately in the body (through specialized IgG immune antibodies) after the ingestion of offending foods, food intolerance reactions can happen 2-72 hours after the food was consumed.
Often still, people do not attribute their digestive complaints to certain foods since they have been eating these food all their life with no reaction... that is, until now. For example, a lactose intolerance can appear at any time in life and becomes more likely as we age, with a high prevalence in the senior population. In fact, a congenital lactase deficiency is very rare.
65% of people world-wide lack the genetic variant necessary to produce the enzyme lactase to breakdown milk sugar, lactose. The LCT gene, which is more abundant at infancy, decreases its expression (and therefore it's activity) as we age causing inability to digest dairy, resulting in pain, inflammation of the gut and unpredictable digestive symptoms.(1)
If this sounds like you, eliminating dairy from your diet or at least reducing it greatly, is your best bet. There are also certain food intolerance blood tests that can be preformed through holistic practitioners like myself, which test hundreds of food to help determine what your gut is reactive to. If you do decide to consume dairy, stick to small amounts of hard cheeses which are more easily digestible. Avoid cow's milk which typically is the most reactive and opt for non-dairy versions like my pumpkin seed milk.
Non-dairy alternatives are plentiful now-and-days. It is very easy to find non-dairy cheeses and milks but its just as easy to make these at home. I love a bagel with cream cheese, but soft, milky cheese can be a digestive nightmare for most. Below is my recipe for Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese, just a few ingredients and a few minutes is all it takes. Once you learn the base of this recipe it can easily be adapted to fit your needs. For example, some people may find garlic reactive for their digestive system, so how about swapping out the spices and garlic in this recipe for 1-2 tablespoons of dill or chives.
Roasted Garlic Cashew Cream Cheese
This recipe is easily adaptable. You can opt to switch out the herbs and garlic for other favorite cream cheese additions such as dill, chives, lemon zest or blueberries for a sweeter profile. Looking for a nut free version, try sunflower seeds instead of cashews.
1 1/2 cups cashews soaked overnight in water or placed in a bowl and covered with boiling water for 1-4 hrs. The longer you soak your cashews the creamier the cheese will be.
2 cloves roasted garlic* (see note)
2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes (like this one)
2 teaspoons herb de Provence
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons of filtered water, divided.
1. Put soaked cashews in a food processor or blender with all other ingredients except for water. Pulse until you reach a mealy texture scraping down the sides of the bowl.
2. Add water as needed, starting with 1 tablespoon only and blending until you achieve a hummus-like consistency. You may not need the full 4 tablespoons of water. I usually need 1-2 tablespoons.
Store in an air tight container. Will keep in refrigerator for 5 days.
* To roast garlic, preheat oven to 350F. Place whole garlic onto a small sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle garlic with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Seal up tight and bake for 20-30 mins. Your kitchen will smell wonderful which will tell you its ready!