The Cheese That Won’t Trigger Migraines: DIY Almond Feta Recipe

A few years ago, my parents decided to experiment with going vegan for three months.  They loved it so much, they are still vegan now.  Whenever I go home to visit them, my father serves up this delicious almond cheese with many meals.  He makes it a few times a week, and many of his non-vegan neighbors also make it now just because it tastes so good.

This exquisite vegan cheese has a lot to offer those of us who are migraine prone (even if we are not vegan) because it is not fermented and therefore won’t trigger a histamine response like most cheeses or fermented dairy will.

Through all of my experimenting with different ways to eat, I’ve learned that anything that is perceived as a limitation (such as not being able to eat cheese) is really just an invitation to explore a whole new world of options that would have never been discovered otherwise.

This almond feta cheese shows us that we can avoid fermented dairy products and still enjoy creamy, savory, “cheese”. This cheese is also great for those of us who are migraine-prone because the almonds are full of magnesium and oleic acid, the olive oil increases DAO and reduces histamine, the salt improves electrolyte balance, and the rosemary reduces CGRP, an inflammatory neuropeptide implicated in migraine.

Yes, it will take some time to make this cheese (more than going to the store to buy some cheese) – but the more involved we are in our own food production, the more we are likely to savor and appreciate every bite.  And yes, almonds are more expensive than cheese (thanks to big subsidies for corn and soy fed to milking cows), and require a ton of water as well as imported pollinating bees to produce.  All the more reason so appreciate every single morsel rather than gorge on it.  Bottom line: I think we can all agree that having this cheese substitute is much preferable to caving into a cheese craving and then spending the next day with brain fog or a migraine headache.

So enjoy this recipe from Vegetarian Times!

Ingredients:

1 cup whole blanched almonds
¼ cup lemon juice
3 Tbs. plus ¼ cup olive oil, divided
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. fresh rosemary leaves

Instructions:

1. Place almonds in medium bowl, and cover with 3 inches cold water. Let soak 24 hours. Drain soaking liquid, rinse almonds under cold running water, and drain again.

2. Purée almonds, lemon juice, 3 Tbs. oil, garlic, salt, and 1/2 cup cold water in food processor 6 minutes, or until very smooth and creamy.

3. Place large strainer over bowl, and line with triple layer of cheesecloth. Spoon almond mixture into cheesecloth. Bring corners and sides of cloth together, and twist around cheese, forming into orange-size ball and squeezing to help extract moisture. Secure with rubber band or kitchen twine. Chill 12 hours, or overnight. Discard excess liquid.

4. Preheat oven to 200°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Unwrap cheese (it will be soft), and transfer from cheesecloth to prepared baking sheet. Flatten to form 6-inch round about 3/4-inch thick. Bake 40 minutes, or until top is slightly firm. Cool, then chill. (Cheese can be made up to this point 2 days ahead; keep refrigerated.)

5. Combine remaining 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and rosemary in small saucepan. Warm oil over medium-low heat 2 minutes, or until very hot but not simmering. Cool to room temperature. Drizzle herb oil over cheese just before serving.