Holiday Appetizer: Sunflower Seed and Cashew Cheese with Cranberries. Lunch at SweetGreen with Anne!

Sunflower Seed and Cashew Cheese with Cranberries

I’m back!

Hope you all had lovely weekends, full of festive preparation for the holidays to begin. I was busy finishing, and then celebrating the finish of, my first official full year as a post-bacc student. It has been without a doubt the hardest experience—and really, the hardest year—of my life, but I’m proud to have persevered so far, however shakily. And I could not manage to do that without all of your constant support and encouragement. So, CR readers: Thank you.

I thought I’d share with you a simple, yet festive holiday recipe I made this week: a sunflower seed and cashew “cheese” with cranberries. This may remind you of my cashew cheese with meyer lemon and dried cherries, which is also good, but this one is tangier and in some ways a little more fun. It’s an excellent idea for a raw and vegan party appetizer that’ll astound your guests: watch as they liken it to a sweet cream cheese! And it’s very easy to make. I actually fermented mine, per instructions here, but you can skip all that, and in fact I made the recipe fermentation free.


Sunflower Seed and Cashew Cheese with Cranberries (raw, vegan, gluten and soy free)

Makes about 3 cups; Recipe Can Easily Be Halved

1 C. raw cashews, soaked 1 hr and drained
1 c. raw unsalted sunflower seeds, soaked 1 hr and drained
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. salt (more to taste)
Pepper (to taste)

1 cup dried cranberries (find an unsweetened brand if possible: not always easy, so don’t sweat it if you can only find juice sweetened ones. Do opt for organic)

1) Add nuts and seeds to a food processor (or VitaMix). Add all other ingredients.

2) Turn on machine motor slowely, and start drizzling in water. Start with 1/2 cup water and add just enough for the cheese to be smooth and creamy, but still thick and spreadable (like a very thick hummus).

3) Add cranberries. Pulse to combine.

4) Store in fridge until ready to use.


Thick, creamy, and bursting with sweet cranberry flavors! Delicious. Bring this to your next holiday cocktail gathering!

I also celebrated the end of exams yesterday with one of my favorite people: Anne P!

photo - Copy

Anne and I haven’t hung out since our trip to Café Green this past summer, and we were way overdue for some catch up and giggling. We decided to hit the Georgetown Sweet Green for lunch:



…and we both arrived exactly 5 minutes late and with wet hair, having each decided not to cut our runs short Smile

There’s no indoor seating at this SG, so we took our salads to Dean and Deluca and got some tea and a table. I enjoyed a salad of chickpeas, sweet potato, mushrooms, broc, beets, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. Anne was impressed with my capacity to order every veggie on the salad menu. I got lemon on the salad and the hummus dressing on the side.


Con green tea:


I have to say, Sweet Green has become by far my favorite place for salads. That’s a big honor in my book!

It was wonderful to chat with Anne, and all too short. I can’t wait till she’s back in DC, so that we can extend these short visits into weekly events.

And now, as I write, I’ve just finished packing for a glorious three week (or almost three week) trip home to NYC. I. Can’t. Wait. I’ll be posting regularly from home, naturally, and eating out quite a lot, but I’ll also be cooking at my Mom’s place. This isn’t easy for me, because my Mom doesn’t have a food processor, and while I can usually make do happily without a VitaMix and a dehydrator, I’m a little lost without the mighty processor. Still, I like to remind my readers that raw and vegan foods don’t demand too many appliances, so I guess I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is! I’m sure you’ll be seeing more cooked foods than usual, but in the meantime, could you guys tell me which non-appliance raw dishes you’d like to see me make? Or, do you have suggestions for good ones I should try? Let me know!

Happy wkd,


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Categories: Uncategorized
Dietary Preferences: Raw

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  1. Just made it! I could eat the whole thing by myself, but I’m being nice on Christmas and I’m going to test it on my mostly carnivore family on a Christmas party tonight πŸ™‚ Thanks for the recipe and I hope you enjoy your Holiday πŸ™‚

  2. Gena,

    If I ferment this when should I add in the cranberries? Pre ferment or post?

  3. Food processor-less I’d defo go for fork-mashed guac (I like it chunky) and this weekend I made a big bowl of roasted veggies topped with some fiorentin falafel (a really nice brand) and whisked up your balsamic tahini dressing (SOO good thank you!) just with a fork in a small bowl so nut butter dressings are a good bet

  4. Do you have any tips for finding cheap-er cashews? Or is this recipe of a combo of sunflower and cashews an attempt to mitigate the costs? I am struggling with nut costs without Trader Joe’s around.

    Soups and salads are an easy route when traveling without too much kitchen stuff. I have borrowed food processors from local friends for the short times I’ve been home from people who don’t use theirs often or were away. The vitamix might be too big but I find the Blendtec reasonable to travel with (I pack the container with shirts or food) and it doubles as a food processor.

    • B,

      The thing is, I’m never traveling by car, so carrying more than I already carry is just too much. But soups and salads will work πŸ™‚

      The idea here was to minimize cost, actually πŸ™‚ But way to be relevant!


      • i’ve still brought the blender by plane, bus, train, boat…but i usually enlist strong men or women to help with my bag.

  5. you=reading my mind. i’m hosting my mother for xmas eve, and i after coming up really uninspired as regards an app, it came to me last night. a friend of mine smokes dairy cream cheese, and people go effing nuts over it. it hit me it was high time i grabbed the liquid smoke and got to making a vegan version. but i might have to consider this, too.

    and, though not exactly what you requested, i got something i’d like to see, no processor required: i could use a vicarious trip to kajitsu. if you happen to find a $50 bill in your back pocket you forgot about. πŸ˜‰

  6. Congrats on finishing a challenging year..phew…you’re done!! πŸ™‚ Recipe looks great..thanks for sharing!!

  7. CONGRATS on finishing up Year One!! It must feel fantastic–and you soooo deserve your break! I know you’ll have a great Christmas in NYC. The cheese looks amazing–I am going to put this on our holiday menu. πŸ˜€

    Oh, and raw recipes sans appliances? How about a root veg salad (I think I’ve actually made one of yours already, but always up for a new recipe)? Breakfast foods would be nice, too. And of course I’m even okay with non-raw. πŸ˜‰

    Happy Holidays, Gena!

    • Thanks, Ricki. So often throughout the process, your encouragement has helped me keep on keepin’ on.

  8. Congrats on the completion of your first year of Post-Bacc! I hope you have a great time visiting your Mom for the holidays. Looking forward to seeing what kinds of recipes you churn out with limited resources. I’m sure they will all be delicious πŸ™‚
    Safe travels home!

  9. Yummy. Does your mom have a mandolin? You can make amazing ‘slaws, etc, with no fp, if you use a nut butter for the dressing base and can whip the dressing by hand. Lots of other ideas–when I have a minute I’ll shoot you a few more.

      • Well, actually with a sharp knife, you can pretty much replicate a mandolin (as you know) although it’s slower and more arduous. Does she have a pestle and mortar? It’s amazing how much you can do with no power tools… Especially if you have nut butters as a base–can make something creamy in the blender and then texturize it afterwards with finely chopped/minced veggies…

  10. Congratulations on your first year! And thanks for the recipe, I’ve been trying to incorporate more fermented foods so I definitely want to give a fermented version of this a try. I’ll bring it along to my family party!

    Have a safe and fabulous trip to NYC πŸ™‚

  11. Congrats on finishing exams and your first year!!! Enjoy the next few weeks off.

    That spread sounds amazing! I’m going to make it to bring to my families for Christmas. What do you recommed serving it with? I was thinking veggies and maybe some toasted wheat bread slices.

    I’m pretty sure I use my food processor or Vita at least once a day if not more so I would probably be lost without them. Maybe you could make some sort of smashed bean spread or mix smashed beans in with guacomole. Good luck πŸ™‚

    • Alright, spread is made for tomorrows festivities. It tastes so good I think I could dip cardboard in it and still enjoy the dip. Haha, I’m just going to go with a mix of veggies and hearty wheat bread slices. Thanks!! Merry Christmas!

  12. Congrats on finishing the year Gena! What an accomplishment. I hope that your weeks in NYC are restful, rejuvenating and everything lovely that Christmas should be. You are awesome!!

  13. Wow that’s hard. Not even a food processor? Well, it’s not “scratch” and it will be a little more expensive, but you could get the cashew scallion cream cheese at OA and bring some raw bread or buy some, and assemble a pizza or open-faced sandwich with all kinds of crazy greens and avocado and dressing. On the other hand, it’s FREEZING here now and maybe you want soup!

    I too vote you buy your mom, or yourself, a cheapish processor to leave there. You’re always gonna visit your mom!

  14. Congrats, Gena! I just passed my dissertation proposal on Friday, so I am in celebration mode too! Spent Friday night in LA and ate at Native Foods (best vegan restaurant ever) both Friday and Saturday. Have you considered a blending stick for your mom? It’s the single most handy appliance I own- cheap, small, easy to clean, and can play a similar role to a food processor. As for what you should make, I’m always into the chai-eggnog-pumpkin spectrum of smoothies, puddings, etc.

    • Laura,

      I have a great blending stick, but it doesn’t do very well with nut pates and hummus and grinding nuts, which is mostly where the processor comes in handy (I use it more for soups, root veggies, that sort of thing). Do you have one you recommend?


  15. That salad looks wonderful! I think I want to try some “wintery” salads, because I’ve mostly been eating heavy things like chilis and stews. I miss fresh! Maybe it’ll keep a little spring in my heart through this Northern Utah winter.

  16. Have a wonderful visit home. I hope you enjoy this much deserved respite from the academic grind. Congrats, and safe travels!

  17. Glad you had time with Anne and were able to catch up. Being with friends and having those special, girl talky, chatting about life moments are….irreplaceable and so very important!

    Have fun at NYC and at your mom’s house. I know it sounds crazy…but why not just bring your food proc if you truly love it. Or better yet, give your mom a food proc for the holidays. For under $100 bucks and a 20% Bed Bath & Beyond coupon, you could probably pick up a really good one…or you could go el cheapo and for less than 19.99 be totally set…your mom gets a food proc and you have a spare to use while you’re there.

    Non food proc holiday meals? I’m thinking cookies! Or cake!

    • Averie,

      I’m not sure I can spend any money on one right now, but it’s definitely a tempting thought, since I spend plenty of time here. Hmmm πŸ™‚

      Now, to find a coupon…


  18. I’m SO happy for you, Gena! You persevered so well during this stressful year. I will definitely be making this cashew cranberry cheese when I get home after my final exams stretch!

    Soak up the big city for all of us!

  19. I heart you. πŸ™‚ Can’t wait until next time! Enjoy your break – you earned it big time! Xo

  20. Ah, NYC, I misst it! I “discovered” green juices there and been addicted since then! Luckily Paris is catching up so I can get my fix.

  21. If you added cocoa powder to this, it would be even more awesome because chocolate+cranberries=amazing.

    (Oh, and add extra salt. Us endurance athletes love our salt)