The Magical Answer Machine brought me to a blog called One Sweet Vegan and this recipe for Vegan Queso Dip. This website got me thinking about veganism. Now, I am not vegan, I'm not even vegetarian, but I'm always looking for healthier options for the fatty foods I like the most: Caesar dressing, mac 'n cheese, ice cream, etc. Vegan recipes can offer a lower-calorie heart-healthier alternative that can often come close to the high-calorie version, if made right.
(Warning: Rant Ahead.) I was in a meeting recently listening to the carnivorous owner of my company talk about how his vegan diet had drastically reduced his cholesterol, when exercise and medication had had little effect. Based on the audience reaction, you would have thought he had announced he had started consuming human stem cells. Rather than applauding him for making a lifestyle change that improved his health, the audience shouted, groaned, and shook their heads.
Working in the food business, the extreme reaction a lot of people have to the very idea of a vegan diet always surprises me. And it's not just my company, it's just about everyone I come across in my life and in the media. This very basic lack of understanding of how the food you eat effects your health (not to mention the larger world), is, to say the least, puzzling to me.
We talk with urgency about the health care crisis, obesity, hunger, rising energy costs, climate change, then we throw up our hands and go get another cheeseburger. All of these modern issues can be traced back, at least in part, to our current diet which relies on "growing" (in the industry parlance) animals for food, and the fossil fuel- and water-intensive process it involves.
The best thing you can do for your health, and the health of the environment, is to eat more plants and eat less meat. It's not a matter of opinion, it's a fact. And yes, it is that simple. All that other stuff will fall in place.
Okay, rant over. For now. Back to the recipe.
I was pleasantly surprised and how closely this vegan queso dip approximated real queso dip. Now, you won't mistake it for a cheddar fondue, but it's certainly not far off from a queso made with melty, processed cheese. Give it a try. Make it for your Super Bowl party and don't tell anyone it's vegan. I can guarantee no one will know the difference. The best part is you can eat all you want without wondering how much time you'll have to spend on the treadmill to work it off. If that's not worth it, I don't know what is.
Vegan Queso Dip
Adapted from One Sweet Vegan
I've changed the proportions of the original recipe quite a bit, but I imagine that this recipe has a lot of flexibility. I could see adding some Soyrizo or other meat alternative for "meatiness."
I like Trader Joe's Salsa Especial for the salsa. It's not too watery and has a good heat. If you don't want heat, use a mild salsa and leave out the cayenne.
1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. turmeric
dash of cayenne
2 cups water
2 Tbsp. margarine
1/2 cup spicy salsa (not too watery)
In a saucepan, combine the dry ingredients. Whisk in water and turn on heat to medium-low. Whisk constantly until the sauce is thickened, about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and add margarine until melted. Stir in salsa. Return to low heat until heated through.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups