Like many of you, I grew up in a football-obsessed family. My dad played back in the stone age, my brothers all played in high school and some on college teams, and now my nephews are either alums of high school and/or college football, and one is currently playing in college.
I also grew up in a family that loves food – we love to cook, grill and definitely eat. Celebrating life and especially football with food is a time-honored tradition for us and for millions of others. Let’s be honest, a football game without a tailgate is kind of like Christmas without Santa – it still happens, but the magic is gone.
So, when my husband, a meat lover himself, convinced me to watch the recently released documentary “The Game Changers” on the subject of elite athletes (including NFL players from the Tennessee Titans) trading out steaks for tofu and getting increased performance, along with reduced recovery time, inflammation and pain, I was more than a bit skeptical, not only as a chef, but as someone who, over the years, has tried many different eating lifestyles and had thought I felt better and was healthier when I ate more animal foods.
Then, I watched the film…
Needless to say, my mind, not to mention my palate were blown away by what I learned.
And even though I have had many discussions with vegan friends and colleagues over the years, they could never convince me to eliminate my meat-loving ways.
The fact is I had never seen a film explaining the benefits of plant-based eating quite this way, especially the science explaining how plant-based, or I would say, plant-focused eating improves human health. Another fact is, for many years, I was unwilling to consider veganism because I truly believed eating animal protein was essential for human health. And finally, a deeper truth is as a chef, cooking and serving animal based meals had become an integral part of my identity, and I didn’t want to change.
I am pretty confident I will never become a vegan, as my obsession for Italian leather shoes runs deep, and truth be told, sometimes a girl’s just gotta have her hometown Detroit-style coney dog. Nor is it my intention to advocate for one political position or food orthodoxy over another. But it is a new year and a new decade, and I have decided to challenge myself to expand my notion of delicious.
So with that in mind, I have created a yummy creamy alfredo-style sauce I hope you will try – it comes together very quickly and freezes well for up to a month. My husband loves it over zoodles (zucchini noodles), and this week, I am going to make a veggie pot pie using it as the sauce.
JQ’s Creamy Alfredo Sauce
16 oz. riced cauliflower
12-16 oz. almond milk (based on preference for thickness of sauce)
3/4 cup Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Shredded Cheese Alternative (+ extra for garnish)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (usually found in bulk aisle of Whole Foods, or online at Amazon, Target, etc.) It mimics some of the salty umami of Parmesan.
1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 1 hour and then drained)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste
1. Over medium heat, place pot with riced cauliflower and 2 Tablespoons of water – top with tight fitting lid. Steam for 3-5 minutes, just until cauliflower becomes translucent, and water evaporates. You may have to stir once.
2. In a large blender, place cauliflower, cashews, nutritional yeast, almond milk, cheese, cayenne, nutmeg, salt and pepper, and blend on high speed until creamy.
You can adjust the almond milk to make a thinner or thicker sauce. I often leave it a bit thicker and then add a bit of almond milk or even water when I am reheating with pasta or veggies.
As your looking for a class at The Chopping Block class to take, I encourage you to give one of our vegetarian and/or vegan classes such as Vegetarian Boot Camp and Vegan Boot Camp a second look. What better way to introduce new ingredients and/or cooking methods into your life, and who knows, perhaps even a new family favorite could emerge!