Vegan Queso Blanco
Vegan Queso Blanco- a healthier plant-based version of white queso that’s just as delicious as it’s cheesy counterpart. Mixed with corn and diced green chilies, it’s sure to be a hit at your next get together! (vegan, gluten-free + soy-free)
Do you ever wonder why regular queso is orange?
If you read the ingredient labels for most brands of cheddar, they often contain more than just enzymes and milk. One thing you’re likely to find is the word annatto which is a food coloring that comes from the seeds of a tropical plant.
Back in the day, cheese that had a yellow tinge came from cows that ate a nourishing grass-fed diet rich in beta carotene. That yellow color eventually came to be known as a mark of quality. Then as cheesemakers realized they could make more money if they skimmed off the cream and sold it as butter, the cheese started to lose it’s signature color. So to trick consumers into thinking it was still the same high quality, they decided to add food coloring.
As time went on and the agriculture industry continued to find new ways to make more money, the dairy cow’s diet completely changed from nutrient-rich grass to one of pesticide-laden corn and soy. So even if the cream was left intact, there’s little chance the cheese would naturally have that once reputable yellow hue.
That’s all to say you’re okay with drinking milk from a cow that produces it solely for it’s calf after giving birth. For the longest time I thought that cows just continually produced milk, not realizing that they had to be pregnant and give birth in order to lactate just as humans do. Now I can’t help but think of it as stealing another mammal’s breast milk.
With all that said (and much more left unsaid), it’s hard for to me to look at cheese or any other dairy product as food these days. I will admit that eating out has it’s restrictions since most of society refuses to give plant-based alternatives a chance, but when I cook at home I never feel like I’m missing out. Especially when I can make vegan queso that’s just as satisfying and nutritious as any dairy version I’ve had in the past.
My version is made with raw cashews which healthy fats give it a rich texture, and boiled potato which starches help give it body. Lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and a touch of nutritional yeast offer a tangy resemblance of real cheese while cumin and lime juice lend a desirable white queso flavor.
I have to admit, I do like this version better than my healthy vegan queso which uses carrot and butternut squash for color. That queso might be a touch healthier but the vegetables add a hint of sweetness which can be off putting to some. This one has a much more classic “cheesy” taste.
I like to stir in diced green chilies and corn kernels for extra texture and flavor but that part is totally optional. You can add diced tomatoes or whatever you find appetizing!
Vegan Queso Blanco
Yield: 4 cups
Prep Time: 10
Cook Time: 20
Total Time: 30
- 1 small russet potato
- 2 cups raw cashews, soaked*
- 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped shallot (about 1 small shallot)
- 1/2 cup lime juice (about 2-3 limes)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or distilled white vinegar)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)**
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- optional add-ins: corn, hatch green chilies, diced tomatoes
In a small pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add the potato and cook for about 15 minutes, until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Remove from water and set aside to cool.
In a skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 3 minutes, until translucent. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Once the potato is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off and dice into small cubes. Add it to a high speed blender (like a Vitamix, Blendtech or NutriBullet) along with the drained and rinsed cashews, 1/2 cup water, shallot, lime juice, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, cumin, garlic powder, and sea salt. Blend until smooth. Add more water as needed to thin and seasonings to taste.
Stir in any optional add-ins then transfer to a bowl for serving. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
*To soak cashews, add them to a bowl and cover with water by a few inches. Allow to soak for at least 6 hours or up to overnight. For a faster option, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat, add cashews and allow to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and rinse before using in recipe.
**Nutritional yeast can be found in the bulk section at any health food store. It is NOT brewer’s yeast that you use to bake with. It’s a fermented byproduct of beets that’s rich in B-vitamins and protein, and lends a naturally cheesy flavor.
Did you try this recipe? Please let me know how it turned out by leaving a comment below or sharing a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #makingthymeforhealth. I love hearing your feedback!