Craving ooey, gooey cheese but can’t tolerate dairy? Try our Vegan Nacho Cheese – you’ll never know it’s not the ‘real’ thing!
This ain’t your average nacho cheese
Which is a very good thing considering the fact that ‘nacho cheese’ isn’t a real food. If fact, it’s probably the furthest thing possible from real food. But it’s one of those ‘fun foods’ that we all grew up with. And there’s just something about that creamy, cheesy, spicy orange goo from a can with a pump handle that’s like a trainwreck. You WANT to look (er, taste) but you know you shouldn’t because nightmares/indigestion/questionable ingredients.
I so get it. I’m married to a self-proclaimed ‘Nacho King’. His comfort food is crispy, salty tortilla chips smothered in cheese (nacho, shredded, sliced, crumbled…it makes no difference). In fact, we can’t pass by a 7-Eleven without him mentioning the ‘good ol’ days’ when he’d bike to the corner store for a plastic tray of mediocre chips and fluorescent ‘cheese’ sauce.
So, like many of the recipes I create or ‘healthify’ for the blog – this one’s for my ‘Nacho King’ and for you, fellow nacho cheese lover.
Now let’s talk Vegan Nacho Cheese, shall we?
Most vegan cheese sauces are made entirely with soaked nuts which while they produce a lovely texture and flavor, they’re chock full of omega-6 fats (which as you may remember, are the ones that promote inflammation which is no bueno). Nuts are also very expensive so I wanted to make a vegan nacho cheese that was lower in inflammatory fats and easier on the wallet. By substituting vegetables for some of the nuts I was able to just that and get this gorgeous orange color without added dyes or colors. To say I was ecstatic was an understatement. I think I texted Stacie several times with “Vegan Nacho Cheese Rocks!” and “Vegan Nacho Cheese is in da house”.
By itself, it was absolutely perfect and my nacho-loving hubby declared it to be ‘better than the real thing’. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that THIS is actually the ‘real thing’ since it’s actually made with food, not chemicals. But I know what he meant.
Healthy Vegan Nacho Cheese... even better than the 'real' thing #paleo #vegan #dairyfree Click To Tweet
But adding a few roasted green chiles, diced tomatoes and fresh cilantro truly elevated it from cheese sauce to full on cheese dip – perfect for dunking these new Jackson’s Honest Sprouted Red Corn Tortilla Chips into. Again and again and again…
Not only are these chips the perfect vehicle for vegan nacho cheese they’re also incredibly amazing on their own right out of the bag. HUGE bonus points for the fact that they’re certified gluten-free, Non-GMO Project Verified and made with nutrient-dense organic coconut oil. Being a nutrition nerd I’m always keen on choosing foods that are going to offer the most nutrition bang for their buck – even when it comes to snack foods or treats.
Using red corn means more antioxidants (hello anthocyanin, zeaxanthin, ferulic acid and lutein). Sprouting the corn before it’s processed lowers the amounts of phytic acid, an antioxidant that can impair the absorption of zinc and iron by the body. That’s nutrition nerd talk for ‘more nutrition bang for your buck’.
Dip, dunk, drizzle or dollop
Since creating this recipe we’ve had it on repeat at our house. We’ve served it at parties with our favorite Jackson’s Honest tortilla chips, drizzled it over fajita/taco/burrito bowls, tossed it with steamed broccoli and cauliflower (now THAT’s how you get a kid to eat an entire plate of vegetables) and even made a dairy-free, gluten-free mac and cheese that all the kids could eat.
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cubed (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into small pieces
- ½ cup raw cashews
- ½ cup unsweetened, plain cashew or almond milk
- 3 Tbsp. avocado oil (such as Primal Kitchen Avocado Oil)
- 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne (or more for a spicier sauce)
- ¾ tsp. salt
- 3 Tbsp. roasted green chiles from a can or jar, drained
- 1 small Roma tomato, seeded and finely diced
- Fresh cilantro and lime wedges for garnish
- Place cashews in a small glass bowl. Pour boiling water over the top to cover completely. Cover the bowl with a plate or kitchen towel and allow the nuts to soak while you prepare the vegetables.
- Place diced potatoes and carrots in small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until vegetables are soft (about 20 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces).
- Drain cashews and vegetables and add to a food processor or high powered blender.
- Add remaining ingredients (except diced tomatoes) and blend on high, stopping to scrape down sides of the bowl/blender, until sauce is uniformly smooth. Add additional non-dairy milk if needed to attain desired consistency (thick for dipping, thinner for drizzling).
How do you build the perfect plate of nachos? What favorite food from ‘the good ol’ days’ would you like to see us recreate or healthify next? Share in the comments below!
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