• 2

    Cups

  • Prep Time 10'

  • Total Time 15'

  • Gluten-free

  • No refined sugar

Vegan cream cheese with Tkemali crackers

  • 2

    Cups

  • Prep Time 10'

  • Total Time 15'

  • Gluten-free

  • No refined sugar

I always joke that my ideal meal would be just a collection of appetizers. The problem is, I treat appetizers like they are my main course and usually end up filling up before the entrée is even served. Every holiday party I try and remind myself to save room for dinner, but there is just something about the beautifully arranged appetizers that are so appealing. Without depriving myself of any crackers or dips, I came up with a solution. In my ideal world, there would be lighter and healthier versions of my favourite appetizers that I could enjoy in moderation and be left feeling satisfied and still ready for dinner!

The holidays are always nostalgic, and for me certain food dishes can transport me back to a moment in time. When I started experimenting with this particular dish, I was remembering my amazing family holiday traditions. I could picture parents, aunts and uncles gathered around the beautifully arranged appetizer table with their wine glasses in hand. As a kid, I remember thinking that this food looked like a work of art and I was never the first one to dig in, but definitely the one to make sure there was nothing left behind! I would run all around the house with my cousins playing hide and go seek, sneaking a cracker or two before it was my turn to hide. My favourite appetizer was always my mother’s, she was known for her herbed cream cheese dip. I could have eaten the entire bowl of this if she let me, this dip was pure happiness.

This week, I was on a mission to re-create what I loved about the dip – the perfect flavour and creamy consistency. The only difference, I am using cashew cheese! In awe of how plant-based restaurants can serve an entire cheese platter without having any dairy, I thought I could make one cheese dip without cheese. I made sure to include the two herbs my mother used – dill and parsley. I also added sage, lemon, salt, pepper and Erbology Organic Chia Seed Oil to make the dip festive and exciting. The last step was adding filtered water to get the dip to my desired consistency – one that was perfect for cracker-dipping and finger-licking! If you add too much water, you can simply blend more cashews – it is really hard to mess this dish up.

I am so proud of what I have come up with. Not only is this dip exploding with flavour and texture, it is also healthy and full of live enzymes, phytonutrient, and iron. Smeared on our activated crackers, you’ll be reaching for seconds and asking for the recipe.

This dip may also be one of the easiest and most versatile appetizers you put together. With a little bit of planning, you will soak your cashew nuts overnight or at least for several hours. But keep in mind that cashews have very soft skin so you don’t want to soak them for too long. Soaking your cashews, or nuts in general, is a great way to activate the enzymes and make them easier for your body to digest. The soaking of cashews also makes for the silky texture that replaces the ‘creamed cheese’ for the dip! In general, once you have the blended base of cashews, you can decide whether or not to go for a sweet or savoury flavour. Cashews have a mild flavour on their own, that’s one of the reasons I find them so great to cook and bake with!

The aroma of the sage and the delicate taste of the cheese from the cashews are a great compliment to our raw Tkemali crackers, activated with sprouted buckwheat. Tkemali is a traditional Georgian sauce that comes from plums. It is appetizing, delicious and nutritious. Although the Tkemali sauce is sour on its own, the crackers are rather neutral. Neither the dip, nor the Tkemali crackers are too overpowering in flavour. When put together you end up with the perfect crunchy-creamy combination and can still distinguish the slightly tart crunch from sage and cheese flavour. I also slipped my dip right in with hummus, olive tapenade and other cheese dips. It has been the perfect addition to all of my holiday festivities and has earned its title as my go-to dish. If I am putting on the spread by myself, I always will include the herbed plant-based cheese, aubergine dip with Greek olive crackers and/or green pea dip with garam masala crackers! I love giving my guests something that is bursting with flavour and nutrients. It is also fun to see people’s reactions when they learn that what they are eating is entirely plant-based!

The benefits of chia seed oil

I love using chia seed oil in my recipes. A good quality chia oil is made from cold-pressed chia seeds. Erbology Chia Seed Oil is packed with essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Our body produces most of the necessary fats on its own. The two fats that it cannot synthesize are omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are important parts of nerve cells and cellular membranes. Together, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids support healthy functioning of our brain, kidneys, as well as our body’s ability to fight against cardiovascular disease. Essential fatty acids also play a key role in keeping hormonal balance.

When it comes to these fatty acids, we want to strive for a lower, more balanced ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, somewhere around 4:1 and 3:1. Add a spoonful of chia seed oil daily to your soup, smoothie, appetizer or pasta. For an optimal omega 6 to omega 3 ratio, you can combine it with our organic virgin milk thistle oil.

Written By: Danielle Bear

 

References

(1)“Omega-3 : Omega-6 Balance.” What Is a Healthy Ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3?, gbhealthwatch.com/Science-Omega3-Omega6.php.

(2)“Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS).” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight or for at least 2-3 hours in warm water)
  • 5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 leaves of dried or fresh sage
  • 3 tbsp chopped dill
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • Big pinch of black pepper
  • ¼ cup Erbology Organic Chia Seed Oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup filtered water, depending on desired consistency

Here's how you make it

  1. Place one cup of cashews in a bowl with room temperature water so that all cashews are fully submerged. Cover the bowl with a towel or cheesecloth and set aside overnight or at least 2 to 3 hours.
  2. Once soaked, drain the cashews and keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to prepare the dip.
  3. Place the cashews, salt, lemon, and water in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Start with less water, as it is easier to add more if you would like it runnier.
  4. Add the black pepper and chia or olive oil into the blender and then blend again.
  5. Take out your mixture and place it into a bowl.
  6. Stir in the chopped sage, dill and parsley.
  7. Place in a serving bowl, decorate with remaining herbs and dip those crackers in!

Tags

  • Appetisers
  • Buckwheat
  • Cashew
  • Chia seeds
  • Dips
  • Gluten-free
  • Guilt-free
  • Party food ideas
  • Snacking
  • Vegan cheese

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