Tip of the Week: Nut-Free Solutions

Being vegan, one of the hardest things for me to work around is a nut allergy. There are countless recipes for vegan cheese and cream sauces that require nuts. I have been making cashew cream and have used almond milk without even thinking about it for years. Over the years, I have had a handful family members and friends that have a nut allergy. Trying to accommodate that can be difficult at times, but I have found a few ways to work around that. It has taken some trial and error, but they work and I have tried to incorporate more nut-free options into my meals and desserts.

There are actually a lot of replacements for the nut milks that are most commonly used in vegan recipes. The obvious solution is using something like coconut milk or soy milk in recipes. I always struggled replacing cashews or almonds in a cream sauce or in a cheese sauce. After some experimentation and a brief review of my notes from culinary school, I realized it wasn’t that difficult. There was a day when we made nut-free cream soups using oats, arborio rice, and potatoes to add creaminess and viscosity. Through my internship, I also learned that some vegetables can be puréed to create the same effect!

Over the past couple of years, I have found that there isn’t any telling which vegetable, or grain will work the best until it is tested. From my research, I do know that zucchini works best in a regular cream sauce, like an Alfredo; the combination of potatoes and carrots make a cheese sauce that is just like any other nacho cheese out there, even down to the texture; tofu can be used instead of cashew sour cream or almond ricotta; and oats or rice work best in a cream soup. There are a lot of times I can hardly tell the difference!

It took me a while to find out that I could use all of those different ingredients to create the same flavors and textures as the nut filled counterparts. I have actually had a lot of fun experimenting and creating new alternatives for those who have nut allergies. If anything, try these substitutions to reduce the ridiculous consumption of cashews. Plus, it is a lot more inexpensive and requires less planning ahead (no soaking required)!

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