Before starting a plant-based diet, I used to be a cheese addict… and I don’t say that lightly. I remember eating handfuls of cheese from the bag as a kid (and adult) – I seriously could hardly go a meal without it. Cheese was the last thing to go when switching to a plant-based diet and really was the hardest thing for me to give up. It wasn’t until a year or so later that I found out why. It turns out that cheese (and dairy) actually IS very addictive… proven by science.
This article by Dr. Michael Greger (NutritionFacts.org) explains it very wel. When the stomach breaks down dairy, it produces a byproduct called casomorphin. This substance binds to opioid receptors (yes, you read it right) in the brain, which makes it addictive. After learning more about this process, it made total sense to me! After about a week, I stopped constantly craving cheese. Every now and then I will crave a savory, cheese-like flavor and have started experimenting with cashew-based cheeses (also take a look at my cashew cheese sauce and these loaded sweet potatoes with cashew cheese drizzle). One thing that was missing for me was parmesan cheese! I looked at a few different recipes online and made a rendition of my own that is perfect atop pizza, pasta, or salad!
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp Himalayan sea salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- Put all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a fine meal. Store leftovers in a glass container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
- Sprinkle on pasta, pizza, salad, or other savory entreés!