Very often, I find that food is closely tied in with my memories, and just seeing a certain food will remind me of an event or feeling. The opposite is also true – sometimes, a certain place or experience will set off a craving for a specific food. I used to snack while reading, and I find now that whenever I re-read a book, I find myself craving the food I was eating when I last read it. Food is powerful! This connection can make it very difficult to break a food addiction or eating cycle, as we are often more attached to the feeling we get from food than to the food itself. The realization of this has been very important to me as my husband and I embark on our journey toward radical health and a raw foods lifestyle.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of climbing into my mom’s bed on Sunday mornings to eat bagels and cream cheese and watch old black and white TV shows from the 50’s. Even now, when I see a bagel with cream cheese, I think of those times snuggled up next to my mom, laughing and relaxing together, and bagels have remained one of my favorite foods.
While this is still a wonderful memory for me, it is also somewhat sobering to realize what a large role food addiction has played in my life. I struggled with eating disorders from my late teens into my late 20’s, and I still have to fight an emotional connection with the foods I eat, as well as the temptation to sinfully judge myself based on my eating habits and food choices. I must carefully guard against my tendency to believe the lie that if I eat healthy, don’t snack and drink the right amount of water, I am a good and worthwhile person, but if I eat something I shouldn’t or fall short of my high nutritional standards, I am a failure and less valuable in God’s sight. I must continually preach the gospel to myself and remember that nothing I do – or eat – can make me more or less acceptable to God. He did not save me because of my pantry stocked with organic food; I did not become worthy of salvation by virtue of a vegetarian diet. My salvation is in Christ. I did not earn it, I do not deserve it, and, therefore, I can not “undo” it by eating something less than ideal. I can however, surrender my will to Christ and allow Him to guide my choices, and that is what I seek to do.
I realize it may sound a bit strange to tie food in to the gospel, but this is an area of sin in my life, and the gospel speaks to our sin, no matter what form it takes.
Now, back to the bagels. 🙂 When I became a vegan, my beloved “bagel and schmear” had to go (the TV had to go too, which went a long way toward overcoming certain food addictions. Those commercials are serious temptation!), and while I knew it was for the best, I always missed the wonderful contrast of cold, creamy cheese on a hot, crunchy, toasted bagel (I’m getting pretty nostalgic just typing it!). I was thrilled to discover sprouted whole grain bagels, but finding something to put on them was a major challenge. I tried the soy cream cheese I found in stores, but it was grainy and had a strange aftertaste and was, well, soy, which I avoid for a number of reasons. I also avoid processed and packaged foods, so the whole concept of buying a tub of artificial white goo was just completely unappealing. I basically gave the whole idea up until one day, when I found a recipe for cream cheese that was creamy, delicious, raw and completely guilt-free. Enter: cashews!
Cashews are rich in a number of health-promoting nutrients, including magnesium, copper, tryptophan, and healthy fatty acids. A diet that is rich in high quality raw cashews can aid tooth and bone health, as well as helping to prevent high blood pressure. Additionally, eating cashews with a carbohydrate-rich food at your last meal of the day can help promote a good night’s rest due to their high tryptophan content.
Best of all, cashews make an ideal alternative to dairy products in recipes because of their creamy, blendable texture and mild taste that works in both savory and sweet dishes. This dairy-free cream cheese puts real nutrition into your cells and promotes energy and vitality.
Cashew Cream Cheese
- 2 C raw, organic cashews
- 3 Tbls cold pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 3-6 Tbls Water
- 1-2 Tbls Green onions or chives (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend into a smooth cream. Add just a few tablespoons of water at first, and add an additional tablespoon at a time as you blend until you reach the desired consistency.
If you enjoy cream cheese with fresh herbs, add a heaping tablespoon of green onions, chives, or any other fresh herbs that are readily available to the mix before you blend. For a sweet option, use 2 Tbls EVOO and 1 Tbls organic coconut oil, omit the herbs and add a drizzle of raw honey, a light sprinkle of cardamon and a pinch of coriander. Spread over a sprouted whole grain bagel or toast or, better yet, some raw, sprouted flax crackers and top with a sliced apple or carrot for an amazing energy boost. This makes a great meal for toddlers and kids, too. Enjoy!