When I first got into Personal Chef work I was cooking for celebrities, the kind of people who can afford to pay the very best people to work for them. As a Chef who had only cooked in restaurants, I totally knew this and it made me nervous. I was confidant in my cooking but this was a different kind of cooking. Many of my clients wanted healthy food that tasted like bad for you food. I mean, who doesn’t?
I had never even heard or raw or macrobiotic cuisine before I started in this line of work. It just happened that my Mom was diagnosed with cancer around the same time, so I had an extra big reason to pay attention to these new, exotic, interesting ways that people were eating to stay healthy (or skinny or like, a good actor or whatever).
I loved the new challenge of this somewhat uncharted territory. After years working in fine dining, I knew exactly what buttery dishes, braised meats and rich desserts tasted like. It was just about finding these flavours within these healthier new parameters.
Luckily dairy was one of the easiest things to replace. To be honest, it is mostly thanks to cashews, a nut that I have seen hanging off of the trees in India, like a pair of earrings that my offbeat grade five teacher would have worn. They don’t look like anything that would ever grow anywhere near where I live, but I do make an allowance at times when creamy is what we’re looking for.
I have cut them with sunflower seeds in this recipe; this makes me feel a little bit better about it and will save us some money too (India is a long way away!) You could also use all sunflower seeds, the texture just won’t be as smooth, but it makes a great nut-free dip.
A version of this dip is what got me really excited about this alternative/healthy style of cuisine (that and Zucchini Noodles) years ago when I was first learning. Why would you ever buy cream cheese when you could have something like this: filled with ingredients that you should be eating anyway and that’s before you’ve taken into account the veggies that you’re going to dip into it or the collard green you’re going to spread it on to make a delicious wrap. SO AWESOME!
I’m into dill these days but if you’re feeling wild, use the nuts/seeds and acids as a base and add the flavours you love to make it your own. I used to go over to my friend’s house in elementary school and her Dad would mix cream cheese with chili peppers and we would eat it with Ritz crackers (and then go jump on her trampoline). It was so simple and good, I still think about it today (obviously). Not surprising, chili peppers also taste great in this. Or sundried tomatoes and basil, or cilantro, lime and jalapeno, or curry powder and black pepper (with some extra turmeric), the sky is the limit! You can also make this in your food processor if you don’t have a blender, just let it go until it gets very smooth.
Today we have spread it on Sweet Potato Toast with sliced radishes and more fresh dill, but use it the way one might use cream cheese. Spread it on a sandwich, use it as a veggie dip, toss it with warm veggie noodles, stir it into some Millet Polenta, or something I did with the delicious leftovers: add it at the very end to some sautéed mushrooms. I even watered it down and tossed it with some diced cabbage, green onions and celery -a pretty great cole slaw. I like to think about that curly-haired lady in the cream cheese commercials (I think she was supposed to be an angel in heaven who had a thing for cream cheese?) anyway, she would stir that stuff into everything, and you should do the same. Let me know if you come up with anything delicious!
- 1 c Raw Sunflower Seeds, soaked for 6-10 hours, drained and rinsed well
- 1 c Raw Cashews, soaked for 8-10 hours, drained and rinsed well
- 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- ½ c Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ c Lemon Juice (plus the zest)
- 1 Jalapeno, diced (optional -leave out if sensitive to nightshades or spice)
- ½ c Fresh Dill, chopped
- Sea(weed) Salt, to taste
- In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients EXCEPT for the dill until very smooth.
- Once smooth, add the chopped dill and blend on low to combine (otherwise the whole thing turns green and you don't get the fun little pops of dill).
- This dip is totally raw and rich in enzymes so if you plan to add it to cooked things like soup, pasta or roasted veggies, add it at the very end to retain the health benefits. Its still good for you once cooked, it just doesn't have the same health properties.
- It makes a lot, feel free to halve the recipe, just make sure that the smaller amount will still blend properly in your blender or food processor.
- keeps for 3-4 days in your fridge.