Gut Health Vegan Queso and Cassava Tortillas (oil free!)

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(Nachos pictured with the gut health queso and crumbled fried lentil loaf. The best!)

I loaded up this gut health forward vegan queso with prebiotics, namely resistant starch. Resistant starch isn’t digested in the small intestine so it makes it all the way to the large intestine where it’s then fermented, feeding our good bacteria and increasing microbial diversity. People on the microbiome forums I read that eat ridiculous low carb/keto diets see massive improvements by just adding even a teaspoon of potato starch to their diet everyday.

While this queso is pretty healthy, above all it’s just super, super tasty, incredibly satisfying and soothing. A large portion of my diet growing up was some form of chips + cheese so I’m really familiar with all sorts of quesos and this one is perfect, something you’d still finish the whole bowl of even if it were unhealthy because it’s just that good. Burton said just one bite makes his stomach feel instantly good. I serve this alongside cassava flour tortillas (also really high in resistant starch!) which are mind-blowingly good fresh.

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The western diet is starving our microbiomes, which run exclusively on fiber, leading to dysbiosis (an imbalance where bad bacteria takes over) and increases our susceptibility to inflammatory diseases, insulin resistance/type 2 diabetes, hypertension, a weakened immune system, Alzheimer’s, allergies, liver disease, autoimmune diseases and anxiety. 95% of serotonin is made in the gut!

Only 5% of American’s hit the daily recommended fiber intake – and that’s just 25g per day! That recommended amount is already ridiculously low considering humans evolved over millions and millions of years eating 100g per day, and it’s only been in the last blink of an eye that we’ve been consuming next to no fiber whatsoever. Every system in our body was made to run on a high fiber intake. When ramping up your fiber, it’s best to do so slowly. Bloating/discomfort/gas is a sign that your body is used to consuming so little fiber it’s now foreign and it doesn’t know how to respond. Some tips for going from ~15g a day closer to 70g+ is to consume digestive bitters before and after a meal, prepare your food with lots of spices like ginger, fennel, mustard seed and chase your meal with a cup of peppermint or licorice tea.

This recipe makes a lot! When reheating it, be sure to add a splash of water. I love freezing the leftovers in 1 cup amounts to use in making refried beans.

Gut Health Vegan Queso

(serves 5 well)

1 cup diced potato (I use yukon gold)

2.5 cups water

3/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup oats

1/4 cup loosely packed pickled jalapenos

1 tbsp pickled jalapeno brine

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp cumin

1-2 tsp chili powder

1-2 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp tapioca or corn starch

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp ground flax

1 tbsp light miso

*if you’re not looking to make this as healthy as possible and you want just a more general nacho cheese vibe, add 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese or a few tbsp of vegan butter/refined coconut oil to the blender.

Add the diced potato and 2.5 cups of water to a pot with a small pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add a lid to reduce evaporation and let simmer for ~5 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add potatoes and hot water to a high speed blender, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth. The heat from the boiled potato water will cause the starches to thicken up, so make sure to do this while it’s still hot!

Cassava Flour Tortillas

(makes 12 street taco sized tortillas)

1 cup cassava flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2/3 cup plus 2 tbsp warm water

Mix the dry ingredients then pour in the warm water and mix well, forming a tight dough ball. Roll a small piece, slightly less than 2 tbsp, into a ball. Press using a tortilla press between two pieces of parchment paper, then cook over medium heat 1 minute per side in a skillet with no oil.

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