I've been talking to more and more people lately who are starting to think about increasing their intake of plant foods, and decreasing their intake of animal foods. The reasons are many and varied, but it seems like this transition is the most difficult for people who need to do it for health reasons. A friend of mine in her 50's recently told me that her cholesterol was dangerously high, and that she needed to do something about it. She was overwhelmed and put off because, "all of the foods I love to cook include meat." That's a tough spot to be in.
I consider myself to be lucky because I lost the taste for meat once I started to learn more about the meat industry, animal conditions, etc. When I realized that I didn't need it to be healthy, and that the environment (and the animals in it) would be better off if I left it out of my diet, the desire to consume meat fell away.
This has not been the case for me with cheese. I love cheese. I love to eat it often and in bulk. I get giddy and cheese high, especially here in Quebec where killer cheese abounds. But here's the thing - a person can't go crazy on the cheese plate too many times without starting to feel consequences. It's highly caloric, loaded with saturated fat, high in cholesterol, and let's be honest; it's not exactly great for keeping your pipes clean, if you know what I mean.
Still, I'm not ready to prohibit cheese consumption. Prohibition breeds desire, after all. What I CAN do, is take it down a notch. There are plenty of dishes I can cut cheese out of, and plenty of things that add amazing flavor without contributing to the veal industry, which I abhor.
This easy little recipe is a great starting place. Brazil nuts or hazelnuts work well since they don't require soaking as they have no enzyme inhibitors in their skin (unlike almonds, see: Raw Almond Hummus recipe). You can blend up a batch in under five minutes and use it to add punch to salads, soups, enchiladas, you name it.
1/2 cup raw hazelnuts
1 small clove garlic
1/4 t sea salt
Process in the bowl of a food processor until fluffy.
This recipe comes from I Am Grateful, a recipe book from San Francisco's Cafe Gratitude. Enjoy!