I'm coming up on a full year of being dairy-free. Minus a few regretful pizza indulgences that left me hating myself a little (read:a lot), I have been committed and I feel so much better. Up until this year I found myself doubled over in severe stomach pain 4-5 nights a week and now it happens once every three months and usually from loosening my reigns a bit.
When I first started to cut out dairy I wasn't super convinced that was my problem, so sometimes I'd skip the cheese and other times I'd say "Ah, what the heck! It won't kill me!". I would find myself super tempted by cheese fries and cheesecake. But after a few months of avoiding it and not having any stomach issues, I knew what the problem was and avoiding it became a no-brainer.
Being dairy-free I was so afraid of missing out on the creaminess that cheese has to offer. Like major FOMO. I knew that I didn't want to eat the artificial dairy products (vegan butter, vegan cheese, etc.) unless they had clean ingredients and feared living a creamy-cheese-less life. Unfortunately most of those dairy alternative products DON'T contain ingredients I'm cool with, so there was a period where I had to suck it up and live without creaminess. After much searching though, I stumbled upon Kite Hill cream cheese. It's made from almonds and doesn't have a lengthy list of ingredients. The first time I tried it, I was immediately obsessed! It gave me the creaminess, my cream-deprived soul was longing for.
This recipe uses that wonderful Kite Hill cream cheese to give the rice it's creaminess. If you are dairy-free and are longing for the smoothness of a classic dairy recipe, but want to avoid the stomach ache, then look no further. This recipe is on a regular rotation in our house and dairy-free or not, it is a must try.
CREAMY PESTO RICE + SAUTÉED MUSHROOMS
- 4 ounces Kite hill almond cream cheese
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup water or chicken broth
- Salt to taste
- 3 cups rice , cooked
- 2-3 cups mushrooms, sliced (I like a lot, but you don’t have to add that many)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- Pinch of salt
Place the almond cream cheese, basil, spinach, olive oil, and garlic cloves in a food processor and blend until combined. Slowly add the water or chicken broth until the desired consistency is achieved. Salt to taste and then combine with the 3 cups of cooked rice.
Heat a cast iron skillet to medium heat and then add the coconut oil. Once the coconut oil has heated so that it sizzles, then you can put the mushrooms in the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until you notice the mushrooms begin to brown on one side. This takes about 3-4 minutes. This is when you add a pinch of salt and stir. Continue cooking the mushrooms until they've brown all around, about another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve over the rice.
Notes: I've used the chive flavored cream cheese and it is equally as delicious! Also, if you do not have access to kite hill products, you can soak 4 ounces of cashews in water overnight and use in place of the cream cheese here. The flavor may be a bit different and you might have to end up adding more salt than in you used the kite hill cream cheese, but you will definitely get your creaminess. I like to use the chicken stock in place of the water because it gives it a really great flavor, but it is not vegan or vegetarian friendly so if that is important to you, use water. It is important to note that the salt should not be added to the mushrooms until AFTER they begin to brown, otherwise the salt will pull the moisture out of the mushrooms and you'll end up with dry mushrooms.