Broccoli with Cheesey Sauce, and Blogger Meet Ups

by Gena on January 17, 2010


Hi guys!

Hope you’re all having lovely holiday weekends. Mine has included (so far) two lovely blog-world meetups. On Friday night, I had dinner at Candle 79 with Kris Carr and the incredible editorial staff at Crazy Sexy Life:


That’s me next to Lauren of Ginger is the New Pink!

And yesterday, I got to share lunch with my friend Kath, who’s in town for a wedding. Our destination? One Lucky Duck (or, Pure Juice and Takeaway, as it’s more accurately called). Kath, Matt and I all split salads. It was great to see them — I hadn’t seem Kath since the Summit in August.


Today, I got back to my own kitchen to whip up a fun lunch recipe. A few days ago, a friend of mine was waxing poetic about her love of broccoli and cheese sauce. This sounded immediately like a fun recipe to veganize and rawify. So this morning, I played around with a raw cheesy sauce to throw over steamed or dehydrated broccoli. There are plenty of recipe for raw cheese sauces — nacho cheese, alfredo sauce, etc. — but my goal with this one was to avoid using the heavy nut or seed bases that most of these sauces rely on. How cool, I thought, would it be to make a faux cheese sauce that was also light, plant-based, and neutral for food combining purposes? I didn’t succeed entirely here: the sauce uses ground chia seeds for thickening, so it combines, technically, with nuts. But the amount of chia seeds I used (1.5 tbsp) is relatively small, and so I think that most of you will find that this sauce can combine neutrally. The base, meanwhile, is zucchini and red pepper, so it’s light, fresh, and nut free. It’s delicious served over broccoli, naturally, but I think it would also work nicely over any steamed, grilled, or raw veggies, and it would definitely give a pleasant kick to raw spiralized pasta dishes! Yum.

Raw Zucchini “Cheese” Sauce (yields 1 1/2-2 cups)

1 heaping cup sliced zucchini
1/2 red bell pepper
1 1/2 tbsp ground chia seeds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 1/2 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (nama shoyu or tamari is also fine — if you use one of these, reduce amount to no more than 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp organic Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric

Blend all ingredients in a blender till very smooth (if you’re using a conventional blender, you may need to add a touch of water to get it all going). Check the mix for seasonings, adjust, and blend again.


I served my sauce over steamed broccoli, but of course you can serve it over raw broccoli, too — or you can dehydrate broccoli that you’ve tossed in a bit of olive oil and lemon juice for an hour or two before you plate this dish.

If you do steam the broccoli, remember not to over-steam it! This is a frequent kitchen mistake — turning steamed or blanched veggies into mush. Steam for exactly two minutes, then plunge the broccoli into cold water to preserve its color and bite.


The result? Rich, cheesy(ish) broccoli goodness that’s shockingly light and healthy!

In store for the long weekend: editing, of course. A few chapters of Wolf Hall. But today, I’ve got a strained shoulder muscle, so I’m helping myself to a rare indulgence: a massage! After that, it’s the premiere of 24 with my Mom. Have a terrific holiday, everyone!


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{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren January 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm

I don’t think I’ve ever been first to post!

Hey Love, thanks for the shout out! It was so much fun to hang out again! We need to do that more often! :)

This recipe looks great, I love how you don’t rely on nuts, like a lot of raw recipe tend to.

Forgot to mention at dinner that I just love your hair! So fun and spunky!

Enjoy your massage!


Marissa January 17, 2010 at 5:14 pm

I am drooling over that sauce!!!!


Aletheia January 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Wow. Y’all are such a great-looking bunch. Characteristic wonderwomen ;) ! Wow, red bell pepper in a cheese sauce?! Smart move, Gena. I love it :)


Nikki January 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

That sauce looks so good! And awesome that it’s not nut based. You girls all look so cute. All of you in black tights, my favorite :)


molly @thevegandorm January 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

I love that the sauce is vegetable-based as opposed to nut or seed based! I get pllllenty of nuts (mainly in nut butter form) so this sauce is perfect! Can’t wait to try it!


evergreen(happy raw kitchen) January 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm

I have already thought of about a dozen things to put that cheese sauce on, it looks so amazing!

Thanks for sharing your recipe and weekend adventures with us!

Hope the shoulder feels better soon.


Amy January 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Hey Gena,
I just found your great blog through Chocolate Covered Katie’s Vegan Thursday post

and I was wondering if you still do Raw Wednesdays?


Maria (Tough Cookie) January 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Mmmmmmmmmmm! Looks delicious! And you girls look absolutely glowing! Wish I could witness that love fest of beauty and talent! Enjoy the holiday weekend xoxoxo


bitt January 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm

it looks good but i have some questions: isn’t braggs not really raw? and what about mustard? if there is a raw mustard, let me know because i’d love a raw one.

it’s weird that some people would prefer a non-nut sauce over steamed veggies. but for my body steamed veggies do not do well but nuts are just fine!


Michal January 17, 2010 at 6:17 pm

Looks simple and delish to me! How did you know I was looking for a good cheesy sauce recipe?


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg January 17, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Oooh…I have all of these ingredients! I might have to make this sauce sometime this week…do you think it would be a good “mexican queso” replacement?


Meg's Gut January 17, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I have definitely missed cheese sauce since I’ve been dairy free.
I can’t wait to try this recipe!!!


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) January 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Brilliant–broccoli and cheese is indeed a divine pairing, but you’re right in that it can err on the side of super heavy. Case in point, boyf ordered broccoli-cheddar soup at dinner tonight. I had a taste and was like, wow, delicious, but wow would that ever turn my tummy inside out afterward.

Hope your massage was glorious and your shoulder gets some relief! xo


Jessica @ How Sweet It Is January 17, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Ok – that cheesy sauce looks amazing!!! And you know how much I love real cheese!!


Christine January 17, 2010 at 7:34 pm

Mmmm, that sauce looks great, I can’t wait to try! Thanks!


Ami January 17, 2010 at 8:23 pm

I love broccoli and my go to fav is steam it and sprinkle generously with nutritional yeast, little olive oil, turmeric, fresh squeezed lemon juice, black pepper, onion powder, a dash of cayenne and a pinch of pink salt then stir it all up! yummmm, I just made it tonight. I think even a little avocado and/or sprulina would be delicious next time as well. hmmmm…


Antony January 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Wow! I’m definitely making that cheese sauce. Thanks for sharing it :-)


Katie January 17, 2010 at 9:07 pm

I’ve wanted to read WOLF HALL for so long! Not that I have time… but I hope you like it! I’ve heard great things from everyone at work.


Veggiesmack January 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm

Mmm. That cheese sauce sounds both delicious and healthy!


The Healthy Hostess January 17, 2010 at 10:02 pm

I have a zucchini ready to be used! Great recipe!


Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) January 17, 2010 at 10:13 pm

I do love that the zucchini cheese isn’t ridden with nuts! It’s often hard to find a cheese like that, which can be helpful when looking for flavor but not a hearty subsistence.



Trail January 17, 2010 at 10:40 pm

Mm, that looks delicious! Irish loves cheese and doesn’t so much like broccoli. The only way he eats broccoli actually is with cheese, so I’ll have to give this a try. Looks like it would be tasty and tangy!

What great blogger meetup opportunities you had this weekend! How fun!


The voracious Vegan January 18, 2010 at 3:01 am

This is such a great idea! When I first saw this I assumed it would be another cashew based sauce, which is fine, but it is fantastic to see something totally different. I really love broccoli, whether it is raw, steamed, roasted, however, and this sauce will be a delicious topper. Thanks!

And yay for blogger meet ups, looks like you all had a blast!


gluten free welsh lady January 18, 2010 at 3:45 am

You guys look so cosy in your winter jackets, love it! Your cheezy sauce looks great. Think I may try it out one evening this week, and broccoli is one of my fave veges. Thanks Gena x


Michelle January 18, 2010 at 3:53 am

Wow! That looks delish!!


gluten free welsh lady January 18, 2010 at 6:09 am

Doh, just realised it’s on the meal plan :)


Iris January 18, 2010 at 6:47 am

Enjoy your massage!

I just finished a two day smoothie cleanse, and I’m very excited to eat again! But I know I need to start out light, so I will definitely be having some raw meals today.


Cindy January 18, 2010 at 9:07 am

OH Thanks! I was on the hunt for a nut/seed less sauce. This sounds wonderful. have it saved for later!

Thanks Gena


Hello Veggie January 18, 2010 at 9:35 am

Gena, this cheese sauce looks great! Thanks for this recipe. It looks like you girls had fun!


Zoe January 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

Oooh, I am so trying this! Broccoli is so good for you so I’m always looking for ways to work it into my diet while making it delicious at the same time, which can be tricky ;)


Sophie @ yumventures January 18, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Looks delicious, I will have to try it! I already have a bottle of your raw almondaise in my fridge, which I now use on my sandwiches instead of real mayo!


Brenna Kater, the Oceanskater January 18, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Do you have a non-soy suggestion for a substitute for Bragg’s Liquid Aminos/nama shoyu/tamari?


BroccoliHut January 18, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I don’t which I like better: the cheesey sauce or the lovely broccoli it sits on top of–I’ll take both, please.


Kim January 18, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I’m sure this sauce goes well with all veggies.

I’ve a question. I often get an afternoon hunger attack even if I had a substantial lunch (a sandwich, salad, and fruit). And that attack is always around 4ish. I try to eat a small meal that combines protein (beans) and vegetables (steamed greens), but I’m always afraid that it turns out to be a ‘full’ meal rather than a snack. Is this normal? Thanks!


Gena January 19, 2010 at 12:45 pm

Hey Kim,

I think it’s a good idea not to get too caught up in what’s a “meal” versus a “snack,” so long as the foods eaten are healthy and nourishing. If the beans and veggies work for you as a snack, then go ahead and enjoy them as such! No reason to feel guilt, if they are a seamless part of your routine.



Whitney @ Lettuce Love January 18, 2010 at 5:04 pm

I love how that looks just like cheese!


Paige (Running Around Normal) January 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm

That is genius! It looks just like cheese. I could even fool my husband!


Audey January 18, 2010 at 9:12 pm

That looks great! I love that it is not nut-based. Nothing against nuts, but like you say, too many isn’t good. Oh, and thanks for the broccoli steaming tips. :D

Is it just me or did everyone at the meet up on Friday at Candle79 kind of coordinate outfits…especially you and Kris. It’s kind of funny: black tights, black boots, long coats. But maybe that’s just called “winter”. ; )


Elizabeth January 19, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Are you vegans sporting down coats? I don’t mean that in a mean way. I think it’s cute, actually. Nothing irks me like perfectionism (and veganism and perfectionism do go hand in hand a lot of the time), so it’s always a relief to discover others aren’t perfect either. Personally, I’m always cold – if it’s below 30 degrees, it might as well be Siberia – and I’ve been caught wearing my own down coat in June.


Gena January 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm


Errr, thank you for pointing out my imperfection, and for thinking it’s cute. I bought my down coat before I took veganism seriously as a lifestyle as well as a diet, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t throw out things I bought before that point. I also still buy leather or down that is used/hand-me-down/vintage, but that’s a position of mine that may yet evolve some more.



Dina January 19, 2010 at 10:52 pm

that dish looks wonderful! I think broccoli is such a versatile veggie — I eat it with everything!


Amy January 20, 2010 at 7:19 am

I just made this sauce for my lunch today and it was awesome! I substituted Hemp seed for the chia since that’s what I had on hand, and did serve it over some organic spinach noodles that were lurking in my cupboard. I was also amazed when looking at the nutritionals of this recipe that half of it packs 20 grams of protein (with the hemp seed) and only about 200 calories! Thanks – this was super easy and will be definitely one I use again!


Corinne Bowen January 21, 2010 at 7:16 am

It was so nice meeting you at Candle 79! Can’t wait to meet up next time I’m in NYC. Thanks for being such a bright light at CSL.


melissa January 22, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Fun with friends! I love that striped shirt of yours. You have the best clothes ever. There are so many amazing things readers don’t know about you, your ridiculous closet, amazing taste in music, the list goes on! Oh Pure Juice, always delightful.


Leslie @LaMamaNaturale January 23, 2010 at 12:11 am

Mmm!! “Cheesy” Broccoli- YUM! Was always a fav of mine growing up! Of course, this version is soooo much healthier for you. Great pics! Hope you had a wonderful massage! :)


Katie January 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm

That sauce looks so good. I will be making it tomorrow!


Bianca King July 19, 2010 at 11:54 pm

I just tried the sauce, and while I did enjoy it,I didn’t find it very cheesy. All I tasted was the mustard. I think it might be because I left out the tamari/Braggs ( I have no idea what that is). Do you think that’s why? Should I leave out the mustard next time?



Gena July 20, 2010 at 6:32 am

Bummer! I would reduce the mustard for next time, or eliminate it. And the tamari adds salt, so it is relatively important. Substitute a bit of sea salt if you don’t have it.


Sydney Weinbauer November 17, 2012 at 9:49 am
Veronica January 14, 2013 at 7:32 am

Hi Gena,

I know you posted this a few years ago but I just wanted to thank you! Although it is nice with the sauces that contain nuts I appreciate your version that has a little less calories. Even though I am not “Raw” or a vegetarian for that matter, I still try to reduce meat and I base our meals on vegetables. It is not entirely easy since I have a husband and two kids that would prefer food they are used to but my husband is starting to come around and the kids like my raw desserts. Yay! :)
I will try this on steamed cauliflower for dinner tonight. Thanks again for posting!! :)


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