This is the most delicious alternative to yoghurt or cream. Once I decided to try wean myself off dairy somewhat after learning the plight of the dairy cow, there was a rather large gaping hole in my food repertoire. No milk? No yoghurt? No cheese, cream cheese, cottage cheese, butter, cream? As a mostly vegetarian, I'd come to rely pretty heavily on dairy products. That was no doubt amplified by a childhood (and country) where stretched truths are fed to us by the nicely financed dairy industry and its good friend the government. For example that dairy is critical for protein and calcium, when studies have in fact shown dairy consumption can inhibit calcium absorption. Possibly one of the reasons why the heavily dairy-swilling western world has the highest rate of osteoporosis across the globe. While Eastern cultures who favour more soy-based products over dairy, such as the Japanese, have some of the lowest rates.
So I was really excited when recently I whipped up this recipe. It is an absolutely superb substitute for greek yoghurt, regular yoghurt, thick cream, pouring cream, mascarpone, creme anglais, even milk - you name it, this recipe can be turned into it. It even makes a delicious vanilla bean ice cream if you pop it in the freezer, slice, then pulse in a food processor until smooth. White chia seeds are the magic ingredient here. They absorb up to 17 times their weight in water, which is what makes this cream so delightfully thick. It's also full of healthy fats, omega 3 6 & 9, and protein.
After the cream has set you can split it into two containers, adding more water to one to get your runny yoghurt/creme anglais version, and leaving the other as is for your thick greek yoghurt/mascarpone needs. You can even add a few teaspoons to your favourite tea if you don't have a batch of plant-based milk handy (it mixes in perfectly). Or add a bit more water still and pour over your morning cereal. It really is too versatile.
Try it out, play around; I think you'll love it.
Makes 1 large jar ~600ml (enough to last you the week - or just a few days in our house)
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1c raw cashews (soaked 2 hrs or overnight)
400ml coconut cream*
2 Tbsp chia seeds (white if available)
2 tsp vanilla extract OR 1 tsp vanilla powder / 2 inches vanilla bean
1 Tbsp coconut nectar/yacon syrup/agave nectar/brown rice malt syrup OR 2 dates
pinch sea salt
*If your coconut milk or cream is quite runny, then omit the extra water. Coconut milks and creams vary greatly in thickness and cream content, but you can always add more water in the morning if your mixture ends up too thick. I use Trade Aid's Organic Fair Trade Coconut Milk (you can order it here) and it works perfectly.
c = 250ml cup, tbsp = 15ml tablespoon, tsp = 5ml teaspoon
Will keep for around 4 days in the fridge - if it lasts that long. Enjoy dolloped on fresh fruit salad, stewed fruit, fruit crumble, muesli, porridge/oats, buckinis, raw granola, or served alongside your favourite orange, carrot or chocolate cake for added moisture. My favourite combo at the moment is a few generous dollops of cream perched atop a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit salad, sprinkled with Loving Earth buckinis (raw dehydrated gluten free buckwheat cereal). Just delicious.
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