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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tell me what you do for those moments you need creaminess. What are your favourite recipes and go-to’s? Comment below.