Just because we are vegan doesn’t mean we can no longer enjoy the thick, creamy comfort food of our childhood or rich desserts if we are craving them.
When I first became vegan, I relied heavily on pre-made food to fill in the gaps my palette was used to. I loved the cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and milks as well as salad dressings like ranch. Don’t get me wrong, some of these foods are still in my diet, just way less than they used to be. I started looking at the ingredients on the items and just realized that I could do better.
Slowly, but surely, my tastes changed and my cravings for the above foods went away. As a holistic nutrition coach, I will choose whole foods over processed when given the choice. I want to give you that choice too!
This time of year is full of creamy, warming foods, and we do not have to be left out. The great thing about eating these whole food, plant-based options is that you won’t feel heavy and tired after a meal of the creamy stuff.
Easy Ways to Create Creaminess
This section is for those who like to experiment. I have not given recipes here, so you can play it by ear. Add in more or less of the ingredient to make it more or less creamy. If you are not comfortable with this yet, and you need recipes, keep scrolling to the bottom section where I give links to some delectably creamy foods.
There are a few ways to make soup creamy, but the easiest and my favourite is to simply blend the soup when it is finished cooking. This works well when there are potatoes or squash in the soup. Heat the soup until everything is cooked and then transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. The less water you use in the soup, the creamier the blended stuff will be.
A note on liquids in the food processor – make sure that the level of soup in the container doesn’t exceed the hole on the tube that houses the blade. I’ve done this on more than one occasion, and it is always a horrible mess!
If you want a chunky soup that is thicker, I would suggest a thickener (a starch) that you add to the soup as it is cooking. The starches must all be mixed in a little cold water and dissolved before adding to the soup. For all of the 3 starches below, use 1 tablespoon of starch for every cup of liquid you are working with. Add it to the soup slowly to reach the desired thickness. Feel free to add more if the soup is too thin after adding the recommended amount.
- Cornstarch – you will get a translucent thickened solution. It will not tolerate extended heating or freezing. If the meal you are making will be eaten fresh and the cornstarch mixture is added while the soup is on a low simmer, this is a good choice.
- Arrowroot – this can give off a shiny appearance. Add the arrowroot/water mixture when the soup is simmering. It is highly stable when thawed and recooked and so is a good substitute for cornstarch if you plan on storing excess.
- Potato starch – use similar to cornstarch. It is more stable when frozen.
Cashews have a smooth, rich texture when they are soaked and then blended. They are used for creaminess in a lot of different types of foods.
To try your own thick, cheese sauce, soak cashews for 6-8 hours. Drain and then blend in a high speed blender until smooth. Adding nutritional yeast will give it a cheesy-ish flavour. You can also add cooked onions, garlic, and any other vegetable you enjoy the flavour of. Turmeric would also be good to give it that yellow colour as well as great health benefits. If using turmeric, add black pepper because this makes the super healthy part of the turmeric more useful in our bodies. If the sauce is getting too thick, you can always use vegetable broth or water to thin it out. Use this on anything that you would put liquid cheese on – vegetable sautés, pasta dishes, nachos, pizza, etc.
If you are not a fan of nuts, try the same as above with white beans, potatoes (regular or sweet), cauliflower, or squash instead of the cashews. All of the foods just listed should be cooked until soft. You can also play around with raw zucchini, cooked carrots, or other types of beans if colour doesn’t matter.
Mmmm. This is one of my favourite things to talk and think about and cook! There are many types of creamy desserts out there, and most can start with one of the two bases below.
Surprise, surprise, we are using cashews again. These create such a versatile texture when they are soaked and blended, you will often see them in recipes for these types of foods. What can you make with cashews that would be good enough for a dessert? Let me tell you!
- Cheesecake – it is easy to make a basic cheesecake filling with soaked cashews, non-dairy milk, coconut oil, lemon juice, and your preferred sweetener. Just blend this together and add in your favourite flavours like strawberry, blueberry…
- Sweet cream – blend soaked cashews, sweetener, and liquid (water, non-dairy milk) to your desired consistency. Use over fresh fruit, as a layer in a parfait, or even as a base for ice cream.
These are all simple ways to get your creamy craving met. They work wonders for that lonely dairy craving that comes along every so often.
I am the kind of cook that likes to make up stuff as I cook. I may have a recipe in front of me, but 9 times out of 10, at least one thing will be changed. I wrote the above for the people that are similar – you want to have room to play with your food!
Below I have included recipes that you can follow to a tee and will work out every time.
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Check out the links below to recipes that fit the creamy bill. I have included a little bit of everything in the list, but please feel free to search for others that may be closer to your taste. There are so many great recipes to choose from. Good luck!
Whatever you may be craving, there is always a vegan version out there. These rich meals and desserts will help the creamy craving go away and you will feel great while eating them.
Tell me what you do for those moments you need creaminess. What are your favourite recipes and go-to’s? Comment below.