So, who else is completely obsessed with pizza? If you say that you’re not, then you’re lying. Pizza is usually filled with greasy cheese and fatty dough. I have created a healthy alternative to those pizza cravings that is even packed with some good-for-you greens and homemade cashew cheese. I call them Cali Style Pizza Bites!
The Homemade Cheese
Making your own cheese might be a little intimidating to some, but it’s actually super easy! All you really need is a high speed blender (I love my Blendtec) and the right ingredients. For this traditional mozzarella style cheese, all you need is cashews, basil, coconut milk (the full fat kind) and nutritional yeast.
Just throw the perfect amount of each into your high speed blender and BOOM! You’ve got the perfect cheese for dipping, spreading and topping! For this recipe, you’ll top the pizzas with a dollop of the cheese before baking. It surprisingly doesn’t get runny in the oven and keeps it’s gooey texture that is essential for the perfect pizza!
What is Nutritional Yeast & where can I find it?
Nutritional yeast (aka: nooch) is a yellow-ish seasoning that has a nutty/cheesy flavor. It’s a pantry essential for plant based foodies and is super good on literally everything from popcorn to avo toast! Bob’s Red Mill is my favorite brand so far and you can get a good deal on it when you buy in bulk.
You can find nutritional yeast at home health food stores. Most of the time I find mine in the baking section by all the other Bob’s products (like almond flour and flax seeds) but sometimes you can find it next to the nuts and candy dispensers. Make sure to store an opened bag or container in the fridge. This will ensure that it won’t get old and sticky. No one likes sticky nooch!
Cali Style Pizza Bites
Now that you know a little more about making your own cheese and the special ingredients you need, it’s time to start making those perfect little pizza bites!
Start off by placing the mini bagels face up on a large sheet pan and spread some pizza sauce on top. Sauté the onions and peppers until they are really soft and “caramelized” then add the basil and spinach to the pan. Add them to the bagels and top with the cheese.
You’re ready to bake them! They only need to be crispy and warm, so you really only need to bake them for about 15-20 minutes!
These are perfect for parties when you want to impress your friends with some yummy vegan food. It’ll taste awesome and is still slightly on the healthy side! Of course you can just make these for yourself on a Wednesday with a bottle of wine and a few too many episodes of the Office…
PRO TIP: If you want to make these pizza bites even healthier, swap out the mini bagels with sprouted grain buns! Find these in the bakery section on the grocery store (Super Target has them for sure) next to the other sprouted grain breads.
On to the Recipe!
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Cali Style Pizza Bites
- 7-8 mini bagels, halved (or sprouted grain rolls, halves)
- organic pizza sauce
- 1/3 cup coconut milk, full fat from a can
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 tsp chopped basil, jarred is fine
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tsp coconut oil for cooking, optional
Start by heating your oven to 350ºƒ. Add the coconut oil to a large pan and heat. Chop the onion and bell pepper and add to the hot pan. While cooking these you might think you need to add more oil, don't. Just add a splash of water when needed to cut back on your oil intake.
While the veggie are cooking, measure out and blend up all the ingredients for the cashew cheese. Blend the coconut milk, cashews, nutritional yeast and the jarred basil on high until smooth. Set aside.
Check on the veggies and if they are starting to look "carmalized" then you can add the spinach and fresh basil. You'll only need to cook for about 3 more minutes. Turn off the heat.
Place the bagels or buns cut side up on a large sheet pan. Spread about 1 Tbsp of pizza sauce on each slice. Top with the veggie mix, evenly distribute the whole mix. Add a dollop of the cashew cheese on each slice.
Bake at 350ºƒ for about 20 minutes or until the bagels/buns start looking crispy. Serve warm straight from the pan or serve on a large platter! Enjoy!
You may have leftover cheese, it's great for dipping! Keep sealed in your fridge for up to 7 days.
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