Are you avoiding dairy for some reason, but you LOVE cheese? This Vegan Sunflower Seed Cheese makes a great appetizer or spread for dipping, putting on crackers, spreading on wraps or flatbreads and more!
I though it would be very appropriate to share this sunflower seed cheese recipe here, at Whole New Mom, because it's basically Adrienne’s recipe! You see, I haven't been able to eat dairy for years now and I had given up the hope of finding a delicious, candida-friendly substitute.
Every vegan "cheese" I tried either had an unpleasant taste or some ingredient I either couldn't pronounce or eat. Then one day, I stumbled upon Adrienne’s recipe for Almond Feta and it was amazing!
I thought it was such a brilliant idea to make cheese out of almonds. While I hadn't tasted real feta in years, her recipe had all the creamy, salty, tangy flavor that I remembered, with just a hint of nuttiness. I was ecstatic! All of this flavor without a week of bowel discourse that usually followed any dairy consumption? Yes please!
We ate it on crackers, spread it on celery, added it to this Spaghetti Squash Salad , crumbled it on pizza,threw it in wraps, and made it the filling for some killer empanadas. It was nice to finally have a tasty substitute for cheese on hand and I knew I would be making it often! I think it would be great on salads like this Broccoli Salad too.
The Need for Sunflower Seed Cheese
Fast-forward a few months and I discover, much to my chagrin, that my brand new breastfeeding baby didn’t agree with my new culinary discovery. It turned out she was having a bad reaction to the almonds in that tasty cheese, with symptoms that included bad gas, crying all night and blood in her stool, yikes!
This all added up to one extra tired and concerned mama and, not to mention, one cranky baby. Her doctor told us she likely had an intolerance to the almonds and I should test out his theory by avoiding almonds for 10 days and then reintroducing them.
I followed his instructions only to confirm that almonds were surely the culprit. The doctor also mentioned that she might grow out of it (and I think she since has) but in the meantime I’d have to go without.
Now, I know there’s controversy over the issue of whether to avoid foods during breastfeeding or not, but after seeing my baby in pain, along with several sleepless nights, good ol’ instinct told me to just cut it out.
Well, I switched out my almond milk for hemp milk and turned to cashew butter for an occasional spread (had to cut back when my candida returned) but how to replace my new found cheese?
It took me a few days of thinking, but it finally came to me when I spotted a giant bag of sunflower seeds I had purchased to make sunbutter (still haven't) in the cupboard. Sunflower seeds would work for cheese, right?
I mean they have a bit of a stronger flavour, so I might have to add something to mask the taste of the seeds. Then it hit me - garlic and chive.
Well I got on soaking those seeds right away, and 24 hours later we were Vitamix-ing our way back into cheese heaven.
The result was a wonderfully creamy, flavourful sunflower seed cheese that reminded me of the soft spreadable chevre I had enjoyed so many years before. It was delightful.
The sunflower seeds were barely detectable and not at all unpleasant. In fact my sister served this sunflower seed cheese at a birthday party and everyone enjoyed it, even those that weren't non-dairy!
She formed the vegan cheese into a ball and placed it on the BBQ on a cedar plank and it turned out lovely!
Another great thing about this sunflower seed cheese is that it’s nut free and a safe option for most playgroups and schools; a nice bonus for you parents out there. So go ahead, slather it on to your sandwiches, throw it on a pizza and spread it on your crackers…you won’t be disappointed!
This vegan cheese recipe would also be great on:
- See The Easiest Way to Peel Garlic for help peeling garlic.
- Note that the miso and nutritional yeast are optional. They add a nice extra flavor, but the sunflower cheese tastes great even without!
- Paleo Notes: If you are eating paleo, and are concerned about miso, you can leave it out, however some die hard paleo eaters do eat miso due to its stellar nutritional profile, including the fact that it is fermented.
- Soy-free Notes: You can substitute chick pea miso for the soy miso if necessary.
Garlic and Chive Sunflower Seed Cheese (Dairy and Soy Free)
- Soak sunflower seeds overnight or up to 24 hours in water with 1 tsp of salt. (Note: If you use already soaked and dried nuts and seeds you will not need to use salt again likely.)
- Drain and rinse.
- In a high-powered blender or food processor, blend the sunflower seeds, and remaining ingredients until very smooth.
- You can bake this vegan cheese recipe as well, but I don’t find it alters the texture much. Following are the directions to do so if you wish.
- Preheat oven to 200F. Spread the mixture onto a parchment paper lined pan, or form into a disk, approximately ¾ inches thick. Bake for about 40-50 minutes. You’ll have a firmer top and sides to the vegan cheese, which is quite nice. This cheese will still be very spreadable.
What would you eat this sunflower seed cheese on?
Candace is a stay-at-home-mom, wife, graphic designer and food lover. She loves to make healthy, whole foods that are dairy free and candida friendly. She loves being a mom and is passionate about parenting, living healthy and helping others do the same.