Updated: Jan 15
Even today after 10 years, there is something about cheese.
Easy & Tasty Homemade Cheese, yes, vegan!
I never lost that taste desire.
When I eventually decided that it was over for dairy products, it took me some time to stop completely. Others in the house ate cheese, so I would steal a slice when they cut it or just have a taste ;) ...
One thing we did notice was that the cheese was not eaten as it used to be. So though I did not realize it, I was the biggest cheese eater in the house. No wonder why it was so difficult for me to give it up.
The last straw came when I was invited to someone's home for dinner. They had made a special effort to make a vegan meal for me, even the dessert. At the end of the night a little aged Manchego cheese was produced for the others as a snack. Well, I was just going to have a small taste, a nibble, but before I knew it was eating slice after slice. The host looked at me in surprise ... her look said it all, " you vegan?" I can only blame it on the good wine that made me do it!
Since then it has been no more cheese ... well no more dairy cheese.
More on that below.
Gifts that can change your life
At Christmas, my favourite gift is a good book.
My dear mother always sends everyone in the family books and has done for as long as I remember.
This year I received, ' The Cheese Trap ' by Dr. Neal Barnard.
She knows I have an interest in cheese.
All I can say is, " Wow, what a book!". This being January or Veganuary for people trying plant-based food for one month, this book will give you all the encouragement you will need. It explains why cheese is so difficult to give up and how eating cheese is actually very unhealthy despite what we have been told for decades.
And best of all, It is full of great positive stories of people who, by giving up one thing, transformed their lives and have never been healthier.
Here are a few;
Patricia suffered with stubborn weight problems, diabetes, and worsening heart disease until she discovered that a simple diet change could trim away 95 pounds and make her feel great.
Marc had a similar experience. His extra weight melted away, as did diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol problems, and erectile dysfunction. He got his life back.
Katherine, an aerospace engineer, was at the point of needing a hysterectomy to treat endometriosis, a hormone-related condition that causes intractable abdominal pain and can lead to infertility. Breaking a love affair with cheese and other unhealthy foods cured her pain, trimmed her waistline and let her live again.
There are many more, just buy the book and read it ... YOU ARE WORTH IT !
Why should we give it up?
There are a number of reasons to quite eating cheese. But let's look at health because for as long as I can remember we have been bombarded with messages saying how good cheese is for our health ... is it?
Heart Disease - A narrowing of the arteries. The narrowing and eventual blocking of the blood flow leads to heart attacks, caused by a build up of cholesterol. This cholesterol comes mainly from animal products and saturated fats. Cheese is very high in cholesterol.
Alzheimer - Loss of the ability to reason, remember and function properly. The same cholesterol which is affecting the heart seems to be detrimental to proper brain function. People with higher levels of saturated fats & cholesterol have been known to develop Alzheimer at a much greater rate them people who do not consume those animal fats.
Diabetes - Type 1: A lack of insulin production in the pancreas. It seems that our metabolism creates antibodies against dairy proteins, it consider them as foreign bodies to be rejected. It just so happens that the cells producing insulin have proteins similar to dairy proteins, so the antibodies attacking the dairy proteins also may be attacking the insulin producing cells.
- Type 2: A rise in blood glucose levels - In the case of Type 2, it is not the lack of insulin production that is the problem but rather the insulin is not working properly. The reason for insulin malfunction is fat in the blood and specifically saturated fat which inhibits the proper transfer of glucose sugar from the blood into our cells.
Infertility & Erectile Dysfunction - The reduced blood flow caused by the narrowing of the arteries also affects the proper functioning of the male and female organs. But there is also another concern coming from cheese and dairy products, they increase the female hormone estrogen in our bodies. An excess of estrogen in males and females can lead to infertility and the increased risk of cancer.
If you are interested in more nutritional information from doctors and nutritionists, here is a great website, www.pcrm.org
But, I love cheese
Back to my difficult situation... I love cheese. After giving up cheese for a few weeks, I lost the taste for it and if ever I did taste it, I no longer liked it. For months I ate no cheese.
But then bit by bit we started to see vegan cheeses in the shops. Some were not great, at least at the beginning, but with time some where quite acceptable and I started eating cheese again.
In fact I started to look into making cheese and realized that it was not so difficult at least to make the soft ones like ricotta or goat cheese.
Here is a real cultured vegan cheese that is sooooo good and so easy.
RECIPE: Soft Garlic & Herb Plant Cheese
- 1 1/2 cups of whole organic cashews
( if you have cashew pieces,, just rinse them first with hot water )
- Filtered water or water that has been boiled and cooled
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ( with the mother in it, live cultures )
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- A little finely chopped fresh chives
Soak the cashews in filtered water overnight, 8 hours or so
Drain the water
Put the cashew is a blender and blend until smooth. You will need to add a little water. Add a bit at a time, just enough to get it moving and until it is real smooth.
Add the tbsp of cider vinegar and give it a final spin in the blender.
Transfer to a glass bowl that has been wiped with a little of the cider vinegar.
Cover and allow to culture for 24 hours. Check that there are bubbles. If not leave it for another 12 to 24 hours.
Add the salt, garlic and chives.
You can eat now, it is like cream. But I like it firmer. Put the cream into a muslin cloth or a clean fine tea towel and hang it overnight. Place a bowl under it to catch the drips.
Place into a sealed container and allow to set in the fridge for a day or two.
Will keep for over two weeks in the fridge.