The idea of these came to me a few weeks ago without having researched any existing recipes online, and from what I understand, raw versions of these ultra-indulgent appetizers have been around. I am going to improve on my experimentation with this batch and have still not consulted other recipes. Feel free to share any ideas for future batches.
Raw pals, Rob and Kelly Marra (rawlifecoaching.com) were my gracious hosts on my book tour in North Carolina this spring. As they are visiting family over the holiday here in Tampa Bay, I’ve invited them over for a pre-Thanksgiving raw fusion dinner this week along with three other couples. I asked Kelly if there was anything in my recipe book or any of my latest concoctions (these are posted on our Facebook Fan page) and she expressed a curiosity for these poppers.
So I had to start a fresh batch of the simply amazing Pimento (Nut) Cheeze Spread that was inspired by Russel Jame’s nut cheese ebook. It was, in fact, Rob and Kelly who turned me on to this book at their pot luck. I’ve been making this variation of his “Cheddar Cheese” recipe for months now and it’s a favorite for special demos and my “Dine & Discover” events. It takes two days to ferment and will form the base of the stuffing (blended with some fresh pico de gallo, which is one of the variations in this new batch)
Cheese was one of the foods that I found most challenging to give up when I became a high raw vegan, and from what I understand this is quite a common concern. I will go into more details on our nation’s addiction to cheese, along with a lot of neuroscience behind the craving in a future post, but most of my raw-aspiring students and clients adore the fact that you can replicate some of the textures and flavors of this yummy comfort food without any of the health hazards.
Pimento Cheeze Spread photo on the lower right (I will post the onion cracker recipe soon!)
Pimento Cheeze Spread
2 cups raw cashews, soaked
1 large red pepper
water (as needed)
5 probiotic capsules (I use the vegan Powerdophilus by Country Life)
2-3 TB. nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp. celtic or himalayan sea salt
Directions: Soak cashews for twenty minutes. Rinse and drain. Either juice or blend red pepper with a small amount of water. You will need 1 cup of juice. If you have less, make up the difference with filtered water. I have a juicer, but it’s a lot of work to take it out for a single red pepper so I blend in my vitamix and strainer through a hand held sieve. You can save the pulp for other uses but you will use the juice ONLY. Blend the cashes and 2 cups of liquid for several minutes, opening up and adding the 5 probiotic capsules. Blend until smooth.
Line a colander with cheesecloth or nut milk bag and place on a clean plate. Pour the cheeze liquid into the colander and cover with cheesecloth. Cover colander with a clean kitchen towel and store in a corner of your counter for 36-48 hours. Add nutritional yeast and salt to taste and store in an airtight container. You will use less than a cup for the popper so enjoy this fabulous spread on flaxseed crackers, sprouted tortillas, organic tortilla chips or as a dip for crudites. Be prepared for how amazed your friends and family will be at how it tastes “just like cheese”!
VARIATION #1 – When I made my initial batch and taste-tested them with my friend, Rosemary, the next day we both loved them but thought maybe if there was more texture in the filling, they would be even better.
UPDATE FROM LJ: Okay, I tried them with the filling described below (pico de gallo) and honestly I enjoyed them more without, but you can experiment to see which you like best!
Make a small batch of “pico de gallo” or fresh salsa by chopping up a tomato, cilantro and red onion and squeeze a bit of lime. You can spoon this mixture into the Pimento Cheeze allocated for the poppers for more texture and taste variety.
Photo of the poppers as they were first going into the dehydrator – You can use an oven for this recipe!
Guilt-Free Jalapeno Poppers
(can’t figure out how to put the ~ on the “n” in wordpress!)
2/3 cup of the pimento cheeze( mixed with the fresh salsa ingredients
10 green jalapenos)
10 fresh jalapeno peppers
4 TB. ground flaxseed
2 TB. pine nuts
2 TB. olive oil or grapeseed oil
Sea salt and Nutritional Yeast for flavoring
HINT: When working with fresh peppers, they can be irritating to your skin so either wear gloves or coat your hands with some olive oil.
Directions: You can buy ground flaxseed but the fresher the better. I use a coffee grinder that is only for grinding seeds and spices. Grind flaxeed and sunflower seed kernels first, leaving pine nuts for last as they get a bit pasty. combine together in a dish with some salt and nutritional yeast. Make a slit in each jalapeno and gently scoop out the seeds and ribs. Spoon the cheese mixture inside and press the slits together to seal. It’s okay if a bit overlaps. Coat each pepper with oil and roll in the dish with the seed mixture to coat.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, try these in your oven. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I would use the lowest temp setting and keep the door slightly ajar to keep them raw but if you don’t mind raw fusion, you can bake these a few hours until outside is a bit crispy and peppers are soft. FOR DEHYDRATORS: Place on parchment paper on screen and dehydrate 2 hours at 145 degrees, then lower to 115 – these should take at least 8 hours to get the pepper soft.
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