Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Thoughts on Vegan Alternative Foods (and a recipe for Cashew Cream)

I am often asked the following question:

"If I stop eating animal products like cheese or sour cream and try to avoid processed foods, what about the Vegan alternatives to those foods. Aren't those processed? "

Good question and a very valid one. Many people believe it's better to eat a hunk of natural raw cheese or add a dollop of real sour cream (from a cow) to their baked potatoe rather than use packaged vegan substitutes.  I personally would not eat products from cows (or goats or any other animal) but in some ways, those who choose to do so are probably right.  Kind of.  Their choices are often  more "natural".  The vegan alternatives we buy in the supermarket are processed and usually contain a few ingredients we really don't want or need.

I try not to make a habit of relying heavily on vegan alternative foods. I believe food in its most natural state is best.  Foods I can make myself are healthier and better than anything I buy at the store. But I have to be honest. Sometimes I want something rich and creamy. Or I want a piece of pizza covered with melted "cheese".  What if  I don't have time or feel like making my own from soy or nuts? That's when the so-called substitutes come in handy. 

My rule: use them sparingly and don't rely on them as a major source of protein or nutrition.

Pure is always best. Choose foods and condiments that are minimally processed. Try to make as much as you can at home, from scratch. Your body can absorb and use the nutrients more quickly from foods that are less processed. End result- you'll feel better - body, mind and spirit.

That being said, here's a wonderful recipe I found for Cashew Cream in this week's edition of Veg News.  Easy to make and a healthier alternative to sour cream and much better than any vegan variety you can buy in the store.  It might take a bit to adjust to different flavor (it's definitely not sour cream but it is deliciously unique)  but eventually, you will love it. Cashew cream is perfect served with veggie tacos and even on baked potatoes.

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