If you’re looking to reduce the amount of dairy and meat in your diet, one of the first things most people do is to replace these items with lots of soy and nuts. In particular, dairy products like milks and cheeses are replaced with plant-based versions made from soy or various nuts, especially cashews.
But what happens when you don’t or can’t eat soy or nuts? Or both? Adding other food restrictions to a plant-based diet can be a challenge. The good news is that plant-based cooks are always coming up with creative ideas. After all, we are masters at substituting ingredients. So there’s no need to feel deprived; here are some nut- and soy-free alternatives to plant-based whipped cream and cheese sauces.
Note: Coconut is classified as a fruit and is not technically a nut. The Food and Drug Administration recognizes coconut as a tree nut even though most people allergic to tree nuts can safely eat coconut. If you have nut allergies, check with your personal medical provider to determine what is right and safe for you.
1. Coconut Whipped Cream
If you’re avoiding soy but can eat nuts, this Cashew Whip is delicious. Other non-dairy milks such as hemp milk, oat milk and rice milk can be used but will probably take more cream of tartar or even agar agar to thicken the whipped cream since these milks are low in fat.
If you’re also avoiding nuts, the most common substitute for making whipped cream is coconut milk. When canned coconut milk is refrigerated, it becomes thick and creamy. All you have to do is mix it with an electric mixer (or by hand if you choose) until it forms peaks. You can add sugar, agave or maple syrup for sweetness as well as vanilla, amaretto or other ingredients for flavor. If it’s not forming stiff peaks, a little cream of tartar, cornstarch, tapioca flour or arrowroot powder can help.
Read How to Make Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free Whipped Cream for the easy instructions. Then try these amazing recipes: Spiced Whipped Coconut Cream, Homemade Twinkies With Coconut Whipped Cream Filling, Grilled Vegan Apple Pie with Vanilla-Coconut Whipped Cream, Custard Cake With Whipped Coconut Cream, Chocolate Raspberry Shortcakes with Coconut Whipped Cream and Strawberry Shortcakes with a Coconut Whipped Cream Topping.
2. Aquafaba Whipped Cream
If coconut isn’t an option, there is another way to make soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free whipped cream. The magic ingredient that makes this possible is aquafaba. Aquafaba is the liquid in canned chickpeas (and other beans) and it actually works as a vegan egg white replacer. It can be used as a leavening agent, emulsifier, and foaming agent and it’s turning the vegan world upside down! To read more about aquafaba and see lots of ways to use it, check out All About Aquafaba: 13 Amazing Recipes Made With Chickpea Brine.
Making aquafaba whipped cream is easy. All you have to do is mix the brine from a couple of cans of chickpeas with one-quarter teaspoon of cream of tartar. Add vanilla, sugar, and any other flavors you want and whisk the mixture, by hand or by electric mixer, until it gets fluffy and has a consistency like whipped cream. This could easily take over 15 minutes so electric might be the way to go. It’s very similar to making Vegan Meringue but with the added cream of tartar.
3. Cheese Sauce with Nooch and Seeds
Many dairy-free cheese products are made with soy, but it is possible to find brands that are both vegan and soy-free. The problem then becomes finding cheese that is also nut-free since so many cheeses are made with cashews and other nuts. There are some vegan cheeses you can buy that are made with tapioca. Check out Vegan Cheese is Better Than Ever: Try These 11 Brands to see which are right for you.
If you’re making your own cheese sauce at home, you have options besides soy and nuts. First, there’s the old standby of nutritional yeast. It adds a cheesy flavor without soy or nuts. Try nooch in this Vegan Hot Corn Dip and this Vegan Cheesy Mac n’ Yeast.
This Big Ol’ Texas Bowl With Nut-Free Nacho Cheese uses soaked sunflower seeds and nutritional yeast along with some fiery spices to make a creamy and zippy cheese sauce. Pumpkin seeds and nutritional yeast pair up deliciously in this Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo With Kale and Sweet Peas.
4. Cauliflower Cheese Sauce
We keep telling you how magical cauliflower is because you can make so many different things out of it. Read Cauliflower is the New Kale. Try These Recipes! to learn all the different ways to use this vegetable. Creamy Alfredo-type cheesy sauces can be even healthier when made with cauliflower. Try this Spaghetti Squash With Basil and Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce and just be sure to use a soy-free and nut-free milk.
This Super Creamy Mac and Cheese (No Nuts, No Soy, No Problem!) has a cheese sauce made with cauliflower and butternut squash along with hemp seeds and rice milk.
5. Other Veggies
There are other veggies that can be used to make cheese sauce. Pumpkin puree is used to make the cheese sauce in this Mac ‘N Squash.
This Fat-Free Vegan Cheese Sauce is not only vegan, it’s also gluten-free, fat-free and nut-free. It’s made with Yukon gold potatoes and zucchini with nutritional yeast and paprika. Now that’s a sauce you can feel good about drizzling over your roasted veggies!
This beautiful Paprika Cheese Without Nuts or Soy slices and grates just like cheese should. Made with potatoes, red peppers, oats, and nutritional yeast, this is perfect for a cheese sauce. Just melt it into a béchamel sauce made with nut-free, soy-free dairy-free milk.
You can also use white beans to make a cheese sauce. Simply blend cannellini or Northern beans with nutritional yeast, seeds or nut-free, soy-free vegan cheese. By adding nooch to this Great Northern Bean Dip, you can have a thick, creamy cheese sauce that would taste great.
See? Eating a plant-based diet that’s also free of soy and nuts doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in desserts topped with whipped cream or comforting cheesy dishes. All it takes are a few substitutions and delicious dishes are there for the taking.
Lead image source: Strawberry Shortcakes With a Coconut Whipped Cream Topping