Miss the flavor and fun of Nacho cheese dip but can’t tolerate dairy or the mystery oils and ingredients in the processed stuff? This is the answer. Vegan Nacho Cheese Dip. It is amazing and you can adjust the heat to suit your tastes and cravings.
But don’t let the name fool you.
This is nutritious tasty awesomeness parading as junk food. Raw cashews, water, a red bell pepper, nutritional yeast and seasonings combine to rival the most decadent cheese sauce. Serve it with chips, over nachos or tacos, in enchiladas, or even lasagna.
Or have it my favorite way – curled up under a warm blanket poised to watch the next episode of Victoria or Poldark dipping away with freshly cut veggies and a glass of chilled chardonnay. A true Hygge moment if ever there was one!
What’s so good about Cashews?
Not only are cashews versatile with a neutral flavor used in both savory and sweet dishes, they are packed with vitamins and minerals known to help brain function, digestion, heart health and nutrient absorption.
Cashews are actually seeds and not nuts. They have been used for centuries in traditional medicine systems to heal various ailments like heart disease and diabetes.
A plant-based protein and fat, cashews are a good source of copper, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese as well as Vitamin K, iron and folate. Predominately monounsaturated fatty acids with a smaller portion of polyunsaturated fatty acids, cashews have a positive effect on metabolism. Just a cursory glance at the numerous body systems effected by the consumption of more seeds and nuts, including cashews, makes you wonder why you’re not eating more of them.
A few, mentioned in an article by Dr. Axe, include
- Heart health
- Lowering Cholesterol
- Gallstone prevention
- Weight loss
- Absorption of Vitamins A & D
- Improved metabolism
- Bone health
- Aid in preventing cancers, especially colon, prostate and liver cancers
- Healthy brain function
- Help with ADHD
- Help with depression
- Lowering risk of diabetes
- Migraine headaches
- Healthy skin
The thing that makes this vegan dip so great is that you can add more or less cayenne pepper to make a mild cheese sauce that could be used for Vegan Mac and Cheese or spice it up for a hotter dip with chips. This is somewhere in the middle and tastes great by itself.
Remember to purchase raw cashews to get the best flavor. It is a snap to blend up and if you are using it in a casserole or lasagne, you can just add the blended mixture to the dish without having to heat it up and thicken it.
The cashews will expand as you heat them on the stove making the thin mixture from the blender into a magical concoction of gooey bliss. Stir constantly over medium heat up to a boil and then boil for one minute while you continue to stir. Pour into a serving bowl and taste to adjust flavors as needed.
- 1 cup raw cashews (NOT roasted cashews as the taste will be different)
- 2 cups filtered water (divided)
- 3 Tablespoons of flaked Nutritional yeast (found in the bulk item bins at Whole Foods)
- 1 red bell pepper, cut up into large pieces
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons Celtic sea salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
- Place the raw cashews in the jar of a high speed blender.
- Add about 1 cup of the water.
- Blend until smooth.
- Add the nutritional yeast, the red bell pepper, the salt, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne and the rest of the water.
- Blend using a smoothie blend - slow at first and then increasing the speed until the mixture is completely smooth.
- Transfer the sauce to a sauce pan on the stove, and begin heating on Medium heat making sure to stir constantly.
- Keep stirring and let the mixture come to a boil.
- Boil and stir for 1 minute. Mixture will be thickened to a nacho cheese sauce consistency.
- Pour into a serving bowl and serve warm with chips and veggies.
Honestly, vegan or not, it’s just a better way to do cheese dip, if you ask me!