Homemade vegan soft cheese, gluten free

As part of the detox I have given up dairy.  However, some of the recipes call for vegan cream/soft cheese.  I had a look in the local health food shops, and was sad to discover that all the vegan cream cheeses had carrageenan added.  A type of carbohydrate made from red edible seaweeds, it has had a bad press.

It was first brought to my attention by Angela at Oh She Glows in January.  She points to research that shows links to gastrointestinal inflammation, lesions, and even colon cancer in animals.

Ella at Delicioulsy Ella also wrote a post mentioning the harmful effects of carrageenan:

It has an especially destructive effect on the digestive system causing a lot of inflammation and gut irritation, and even worse it is often linked to numerous types of cancer.

So, I didn’t really want to be putting that in my system when I was supposed to be detoxing. So I decided to make my own.

I’m eating enough nuts and fats on the detox menu, so I didn’t want something that was just nut based, so I dediced to buy some organic tofu, and turn that into soft cheese.

I wanted something that could be paired with fruit, or salad – so without a strong flavour.  I used the same Dragonfly brand tofu that I mentioned in my most recent Kitchen Love post, but this time I bought original rather than the smoked.

I soaked some cashews for a couple of hours and added them for a bit of flavour – I find cashews pleasantly sweet, and I added lemon juice and a dash of salt – yummy.

Vegan Soft Cheese

  • 250g organic tofu
  • 25g cashew nuts
  • 15g organic rice syrup
  • juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
  • Pinch of salt

Wrap the tofu in kitchen paper and give it a good squeeze.  Unwrap, and repeat with clean kitchen paper.  Place it under something heavy, such as a tin of beans.  Meanwhile soak the cashew nuts in some water.  Leave for an hour.

Once the tofu is drained, and the cashews soaked, place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add in some water if necessary to reach the desired consistency.

vegan, soft cheese, tofu, cashew,

vegan soft cheese

I’m looking forward to trying some new things that I bought from Real Foods.  I can’t believe it, I placed my order late on Sunday night, and the parcel was with me on Tuesday Afternoon!

kombucha, pumpkin, miso, maqui, maca, coconut butter

Real Foods order

In my order was more kombucha for Christmas, another tin of pumpkin for the cupboard, sweet white miso which I can’t get from the supermarket anymore, maqui berry poweder for some of my detox recipes, maca powder – again in some of the recipes, and coconut manna – made from the flesh as well as the coconut oil.

Can you recommend any brands of vegan cheese I should look out for?



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6 thoughts on “Homemade vegan soft cheese, gluten free

  1. jmlol December 12, 2013 at 4:29 pm Reply

    Vegan cheese is awful. Haven’t found any good ones yet, but I haven’t made my own.

    • Emily Hawkes December 13, 2013 at 8:36 am Reply

      I’m glad I’m not mising out then :-/ I thought this was good 🙂

  2. […] and basil soup with spring greens wraps on the side.  They were filled with a homemade sardine and vegan cheese […]

  3. […] and some homemade kale chips (made on the dehydrator – so still raw), made with a dressing of tofu cream cheese mixed with nutritional […]

  4. Debbie December 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm Reply


    Q. What is Carrageenan??

    A. Carrageenan is a naturally-occurring seaweed extract. It is widely used in foods and non-foods to improve texture and stability. Common uses include meat and poultry, dairy products, canned pet food, cosmetics and toothpaste.
    Q. Why the controversy?
    A. Self-appointed consumer watchdogs have produced numerous web pages filled with words condemning carrageenan as an unsafe food additive for human consumption. However, in 70+ years of carrageenan being used in processed foods, not a single substantiated claim of an acute or chronic disease has been reported as arising from carrageenan consumption. On a more science-based footing, food regulatory agencies in the US, the EU, and in the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) repeatedly review and continue to approve carrageenan as a safe food additive.
    Q. What has led up to this misrepresentation of the safety of an important food stabilizer, gelling agent and thickener?
    A. It clearly has to be attributed to the research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an Associate Prof at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She and a group of molecular biologists have accused carrageenan of being a potential inflammatory agent as a conclusion from laboratory experiments with cells of the digestive tract. It requires a lot of unproven assumptions to even suggest that consumption of carrageenan in the human diet causes inflammatory diseases of the digestive tract. The objectivity of the Chicago research is also flawed by the fact that Dr Tobacman has tried to have carrageenan declared an unsafe food additive on weak technical arguments that she broadcast widely a decade before the University of Chicago research began.
    Q. What brings poligeenan into a discussion of carrageenan?
    A. Poligeenan (“degraded carrageenan” in pre-1988 scientific and regulatory publications) is a possible carcinogen to humans; carrageenan is not. The only relationship between carrageenan and poligeenan is that the former is the starting material to make the latter. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan and cannot be produced in the digestive tract from carrageenan-containing foods.

    Q. What are the differences between poligeenan and carrageenan?
    A. The production process for poligeenan requires treating carrageenan with strong acid at high temp (about that of boiling water) for 6 hours or more. These severe processing conditions convert the long chains of carrageenan to much shorter ones: ten to one hundred times shorter. In scientific terms the molecular weight of poligeenan is 10,000 to 20,000; whereas that of carrageenan is 200,000 to 800,000. Concern has been raised about the amount of material in carrageenan with molecular weight less than 50,000. The actual amount (well under 1%) cannot even be detected accurately with current technology. Certainly it presents no threat to human health.
    Q. What is the importance of these molecular weight differences?
    A. Poligeenan contains a fraction of material low enough in molecular weight that it can penetrate the walls of the digestive tract and enter the blood stream. The molecular weight of carrageenan is high enough that this penetration is impossible. Animal feeding studies starting in the 1960s have demonstrated that once the low molecular weight fraction of poligeenan enters the blood stream in large enough amounts, pre-cancerous lesions begin to form. These lesions are not observed in animals fed with a food containing carrageenan.
    Q. Does carrageenan get absorbed in the digestive track?
    A. Carrageenan passes through the digestive system intact, much like food fiber. In fact, carrageenan is a combination of soluble and insoluble nutritional fiber, though its use level in foods is so low as not to be a significant source of fiber in the diet.
    Carrageenan has been proven completely safe for consumption. Poligeenan is not a component of carrageenan.
    Closing Remarks
    The consumer watchdogs with their blogs and websites would do far more service to consumers by researching their sources and present only what can be substantiated by good science. Unfortunately we are in an era of media frenzy that rewards controversy.
    Additional information available:
    On June 11th, 2008, Dr. Joanne Tobacman petitioned the FDA to revoke the current regulations permitting use of carrageenan as a food additive.
    On June 11th, 2012 the FDA denied her petition, categorically addressing and ultimately dismissing all of her claims; their rebuttal supported by the results of several in-depth, scientific studies.
    If you would like to read the full petition and FDA response, they can be accessed at http://www.regulations.gov/#!searchResults;rpp=25;po=0;s=FDA-2008-P-0347

    • Emily Hawkes December 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm Reply

      Thank you for that information. I have to confess I hadn’t heard of poligeenan, mind you I hadn’t heard of carrageenan prior to reading the sources I posted. Can you tell me the source of your information?

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