This week’s Change the World Wednesday was to go vegan for one whole day. I think one of the difficulties about a challenge like this is our tendency to immediately focus on the things we can’t eat and reject substitutes as weird or dissatisfying. It’s true that I have yet to find a vegan mac and cheese that I enjoy, and having tried black bean brownies, I still don’t think beans belong in dessert, but it pays to keep an open mind.
Especially when it comes to cheesecake. I’ve made this raw vegan cheesecake several times now, and although it doesn’t really taste like dairy cheesecake, it is omnivore-approved for its smooth texture and creamy sweetness. No tofu, no vegan cream cheese substitutes, just whole, minimally processed ingredients. (Note: it is not low in fat or sugar.)
My recipe is based on Bon Bon Mini’s raw vegan cheesecake. I can rarely avoid the temptation to fiddle with a recipe, and I’m not a precise cook (everything is ‘to taste’ in my world), so if in doubt, check hers out first. However, this is a pretty forgiving recipe. I used honey and graham crackers in this particular batch (my best ever), so that’s why they’re only mostly raw and mostly vegan.
- 1 1/4 c raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours and drained
- 5 TB unrefined coconut oil (melted is easier to measure)
- 1 TB coconut butter (for more flavor; you can substitute another TB of coconut oil)
- seeds of 1 vanilla bean
- 1/3 c fresh lime juice (to taste, about 3 medium limes)
- grated zest of 2 limes
- 1/8 c – 1/4 c light agave or mild honey (I prefer honey; start with 1/8 c and add 1TB at a time to taste)
- 6 TB water or almond/coconut milk
- pinch of salt
- 2 c raw almonds (soaked 2 hrs and drained)
- 1/2 c raisins
- 4 graham cracker sheets
- 1 1/2 TB margarine
- 1 TB sugar
- Soak the cashews and almonds (if using) 2 hours in advance. Drain and rinse.
- Combine all filling ingredients in the blender. Start with the lower quantities so you can adjust to taste. (You don’t need a power blender. Just a regular blender and some patience.) Blend, scrape down, wait for blender engine to cool down. Adjust sweetness. Repeat. If the blender is really struggling, you can add 1TB more water or almond/coconut milk. It may take some time until the mixture is really smooth. I use this time to make the crust and/or clean the kitchen.
- If you’re going for the raw crust, combine almonds and raisins in a food processor and process until finely crumbed.
- If you’re cheating with the graham cracker crust (which I always do, since I don’t have a food processor), crush the graham crackers, add the sugar, and rub the margarine in until crumbed.
- Line mini muffin cups with paper liners (trust me, they will stick otherwise) and press the crust into it. If using the cheater crust, bake at 350 for about 7 minutes.
- Pour the filling into the cups and freeze for at least 1 hour (more if you are using bigger muffin cups). Transfer them to the fridge 1-2 hours before serving so they have time to soften up to perfect cheesecake consistency. Of course you’ll want to check to make sure the consistency is right before serving them to your friends…
How did I do for CTWW vegan day? It’s hard to say. I didn’t make a concerted effort to keep away from all animal products for any particular day, but 1-2 of my meals every day is either completely vegan or with minimal animal products (a splash of milk in my tea, a little parmesan on my popcorn. I don’t eat a lot of dairy to begin with, though eggs continue to be an important source of protein in my diet.
I could improve my already relatively low impact diet, of course, but I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be more effective for me to transfer my money into a credit union to protest how my current big bank invests my money. Hmm. All signs are pointing to the idea that individual action needs to become more political in order to be effective. Clearly, I need to spend some more time thinking about that idea.
Have you ever tried going vegan for a day? Have you found any vegan ‘substitutes’ that you were pleasantly surprised by?