Crispy Carrot Crust Pizza Part 2: The Best Part

I have a hunch that much of the problem people have with the idea of vegan food is giving up cheese. For me, I can’t fathom the idea of never again having ice cream. That’s really all it comes down to.

Cheese is kinda ubiquitous though, and kinda necessary to make a lot of delicious conventional things. Grilled cheese. Pizza. Double-stack brie-and-avocado sandwiches… or maybe the last one’s just me.

Regardless. This raw vegan cashew “cheese” goes great with the aforementioned crust, just as well on a sandwich, on a bagel, or in some raw lasagna. Cashew cheese is nice and thick and creamy and while it’s not cheese, it’s pretty damn close. And it won’t give you the other not-so-nice side effects that often go alongside dairy digestion.. no details necessary.

This cheese is great because it’s got a healthy dose of probiotics—good to keep your gut flora balanced, especially if you’ve been on antibiotics like I have!

Red Pepper Cashew “Cheese” (raw, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free)

No picture, because it looks like… cream cheese. Adapted from Instructables.

Ingredients:

2 cups cashews
1/2 red pepper
1/2 onion
2 tbsp nutritional yeast/brewer’s yeast or “nooch” (optional)
1 tbsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
3 capsules probiotic dissolved in 1 cup water (totally optional, adds to the fermented cheese-like texture and taste)

Directions:

Soak the cashews at least 4 hours. Drain cashews and blend separately in a food processor or blender until creamy. Blend in all additional ingredients. Strain mixture into a bowl or mason jar with cheesecloth, a nut mylk bag, or a soup bag and refrigerate for 6-12 hours or until desired firmness (I used about 8 hours).

You can shape and top with ground spices like goat cheese, put in a container and spread like cream cheese, or shape and set overnight in the fridge to act as a harder cheese. Of course, if you want to spread on pizza and top with tomato sauce and veggies, be my guest!

Yields: Deliciousness.

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Crispy Carrot Crust Pizza: Part 1

Remember that time I posted a picture of a raw pizza that looked kinda delicious and drool-worthy?

Yeah. That one.

Well first off—it is that good (if I do say so myself). And secondly, it’s surprisingly easy to make—just so long as you have a food processor. (I bought mine on sale at Canadian Tire for $40 in the summer and never looked back.)

Raw food is gaining popularity as people seek it out for it’s natural health benefits. Basically, raw foods are supremely good for you because they retains all of the enzymes that are destroyed when food is cooked or heated—enzymes being the active parts of food that do good work inside of you including nutrients and minerals. Raw food is never heated higher that about 104 °F (40 °C)—so no ovens, stovetops, deepfryers, and definitely no microwaves. Since the enzymes in food remain intact, most people find it easier to digest, not to mention that (most) raw foods are gluten-free and dairy-free, a bonus for easy digestion.

Raw food, however, does require quite a bit of think-ahead prep work. Soaking, sprouting, and dehydrating are commonly overnight or day-long processes. But I can assure you they’re worth it.

I like a thin-crust pizza so that’s how I made mine. You could certainly make a deep-dish version of your own, just leave some extra time to heat this puppy.

Wait, heat? Yup—while raw food can’t be cooked, it can be warmed and for that most use a dehydrator, the same thing used to make fruit leathers, beef jerky, sun-dried tomatoes, etc. Food out of the dehyrdator will be warm, but not hot, and all enzymes remain intact. Unfortunately dehydrators can be expensive and quite bulky, so they’re an investment only if you will use them a lot. I’m not there, yet, so I use a little trick of the trade—my oven has a “warm” setting which heats to 150 °F. Once it reaches that temperature, I simply turn off the oven and put in my goodies. Easy! I’ve heard of others propping the oven door open with a wooden spoon to keep it cool. If that’s too risky or you don’t want to waste all the heat, most raw recipes can simply be cooked in a normal oven, just without the benefits of the results being raw.

If you do have a food processor, this is probably the easiest thing you’ll ever make. You only need patience, young grasshopper.

Carrot-Flax Pizza Crust or Crackers (raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free)

(adapted from Mama in the Kitchen)

Ingredients:

2 cups flax seeds

3 carrots, chopped roughly

3 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon sea salt

Directions:

Soak the flax seeds overnight (or about 8 hours) in 2 cups of water. (This helps them to thicken up and make a gel-like consistency to create a binding agent for the crust—flax “gel” takes the place of eggs in many vegan recipes.)

In food processor, combine soaked flax seeds, carrots, garlic, and sea salt and blend until desired consistency.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, spread the mixture flat with a spatula until desired thickness (or on a dehydrator and teflex sheet, if you have them). Warm for 6 hours, peel off mixture and flip over onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper, and warm another 6 hours. If you want crackers, score the mixture into desired size with a knife after it is flipped.

Store in the fridge. Keeps for 10-14 days.

You can eat this plain, spread with hummus, make into a sandwich with avocado, sprouts, and peppers, or wait for the pizza and raw, vegan cheese recipe that will follow later this week!