Nut-free Vegan Cheese Sauce


My #1 tip for staying healthy while traveling…

Hostel it.

It has to be said before you start thinking I’m crazy for making the suggestion – there are actually some really great hostels out there. Clean kitchens, great beds, awesome people, and many of them are family friendly, too. You’ll have access to a kitchen that’s fully stocked with everything you need to make a healthy meal – pots, pans, ample fridge space. What’s not to love?

AND! If that’s not enough, hostelling will save you a ton of money. Think $20 per day for a room as opposed to $150 in a hotel. Imagine spending just $15 per day on food (and feeling great afterward) instead of bopping from restaurant, to room service to restaurant again. The pennies add up really quickly.

Hostelling. Mega in love. Love, love, long time.


When you’re hostelling, the key to keeping food prep costs to a minimum and healthy choices at an all-time high is bringing a little food kit along with you. In my kit I have:

  • Coconut oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • Onions, sweet potato and garlic
  • Dried fruits, nuts and seeds (including chia for quick chia pudding breakfasts)
  • Super food powders like maca, chlorella and spirulina to help support my immune system
  • Protein powders that mix well with water for a quick protein boost…
  • and; most recently, my homemade Cheez Whiz.

Yes, I brought my bright orange, heavily awesome Cheez Whiz along with me to Toronto and I don’t regret it one little bit. I’ve been slathering it on just about everything. Vegetables, wraps, cooked sweet potato, sautéed onions… everything.

Which gets me to this recipe I’m sharing with you today. The Cheez Whiz I made last week is great, but quite absolutely torturous for all you nut-free lovers out there…

So here goes – a nut-free, vegan cheese sauce for you!


I had the magnificent honor of sharing this recipe over on Shelly’s blog, Vegetarian Ventures. You’re going to hear from Shelly later this week when she shares an ultra delicious chocolate recipe with us all as part of my Power Posse series. It’s going to be ultra fabulous.

To print, email or text this recipe, click here.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Nut-free Vegan Cheese Sauce
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Sugar-free, Corn-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Egg-free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
Ultra cheesy vegan sauce that's free of nuts!
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  1. Add water, sesame seeds and lemon juice to the jug of your high powered blender. Blend on high for 2 minutes, until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Add oil to a medium saucepan or frying pan and melt on medium-low.
  3. Add nutritional yeast and stir with a fork until all yeast is covered in oil.
  4. Pour in sesame seed mixture and stir until it comes to a boil.
  5. Add in remaining ingredients: mustard, onion powder, garlic powder and salt.
  6. Cook for 1-2 minutes until thickened.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in your favorite cooked pasta or serve warm with veggies.
Feel free to replace the coconut oil with whatever oil you have on hand. The great thing about using coconut oil is that, when heated, the sauce is runny and perfect "cheese sauce" consistency. But when chilled, it is similar to a cheese spread. If another type of oil is used, this may not be the case.

View nutrition information (once on page, scroll down)


Your turn to share… I want to know:

How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling?

What major challenges are you faced with when trying to eat healthy on the go?

All of your juicy, glorious answers will help the thousands of women in our community. Be generous, share your story, and miraculous shifts will unfold.

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Comments | Leave Your Comment

  1. I just tried making my first vegan cheese sauce yesterday and loved it – this one looks even better! I haven’t stayed in a hostel before but I love the idea of bringing a mini food kit to keep it healthy on the road.

    • I think I remember you telling me you wanted to go out traveling on your own? You should hostel it! Gosh, love hostels. Just so many people around all the time, but you still have your own space. It’s just fabulous. What did you add to your cheese sauce?

  2. Most of the time I like eating “stuff” plain, but this sauce is good. Had it with broccoli, very good.

  3. Not gonna iie, I expected to see cauliflower in the list of ingredients for this recipe! ;) I hope you’re having an awesome time in the Tdot! For me, my tactics for staying healthy when traveling are to always have a water bottle, packing nutritious snacks, scoping out healthy restaurants beforehand, and keeping active during the day, whether that means a hotel gym (you know I’m a hotel girl!) or just doing lots of walking (in shopping malls, perhaps?!?) ;) Have an awesome Monday – I know you will!

    • I bought a cauliflower yesterday… brace yourself!

  4. Oh this looks amazing!! I just made a dairy-free cream sauce, but wouldn’t have through to put sesame seeds in here. It must give it great flavor. I’m thinking it would also be nice with sunflower seeds…thanks for sharing!!

    • Oh totally, sunflower seeds would work, too. Soaking them would be good to make the sauce super smooth. Gah, I love my cheese sauces!

      • Oh, I really hope that sesame seeds could work in this instead of sesame seeds. I’m looking for a vegan cheese that has zero nuts and sesame seeds, because of my son’s severe allergy to both. I’m going to give it a try and see what happens! Thanks so much!

  5. Oooo – Now I have TWO cheez sauce recipes to try – Yippee!! Like Angela said, I expected to see cauliflower in the ingredients list, too. But I bet it’d be great OVER some cauliflower! I’ve never eaten cauliflower that way, but it sure sounds tempting, especially if the cheez is vegan. :)

    The last few years have been lean in the way of trips, though we’ve been fortunate to host many of our family members several times – the past four weeks have seen so many visitors we were considering listing our domicile online as Casa Roebuck Bed & Breakfast. Actually, I find that what works for us for travel is not dissimilar to what I do when we’re expecting company: food prep. I like to chop/dice/slice some onions, celery and carrots; shred some zucchini, carrots and beets; dice some sweet potatoes and squash; whip up a large batch of Mama Hummus; wash grapes; and make sure we have plenty of fruit, crackers and wraps on hand. I put as much as I can in zippered plastic baggies so it takes up as little cooler/fridge space as possible and is ready very quickly (when we’re on the road, I place all the small baggies together in a larger one-gallon zippered bag to 1.) keep it all together and 2.) keep any melted ice water out of our food. When my sisters are at the house, it helps to not have to spend a long time on food prep because between the four of us girls, we have TEN children, only two of whom are over 5. One. Big. Happy. Right? :D

  6. Love ALL of your recipes – finally having nut-free vegan options!! So exciting!

    Question: Can this be done without the sesame seeds? Sesame allergy over here too, unfortunately.

    • Hi Natasha – I bet you could use sunflower seeds! Is that okay for your family?

  7. I do my fair share of plane travel, and last year discovered a fantastic replacement for airport and in flight food. I just bring a good size bag/container of rolled oats, which 100% get past security. Then whenever hungry, just put them in a coffee cup (everywhere in airports), maybe mix in some nuts or yogurt or just water, and enjoy. I feel sooo so much better at the end compared to grabbing whatever I can find that looks somewhat healthful. And you can’t beat the money you save. Although there’s been some curious looks from fellow passengers.

    • Such a great travel strategy, love it! Thanks for sharing, Rachel.

  8. I travel all the time for races and competitions. Not only do I have to fuel my training, I also have to maintain my racing weight in a new environment. Tough stuff.

    A couple of things that make it easier: I always pack a cutting board, paring knife (checked luggage!), can opener, tupperware and silverware. (Nothing ruins a morning like a melted plastic spoon in your oatmeal.) I also rely a lot on shelf stable foods, like canned beans and tetra pak soymilk. (You can usually find at least chocolate soy or almond milk, which still taste delicious over cold cereal.) I’ve also gotten quite good at microwave cooking! My last tip: pack a bunch of spices in a pillbox–one of the ones with seven days of individual pods. A few spices make even microwaved tofu taste delicious.

    • Oh my gosh, spices in the pillbox. That is BRILLIANT! You’re right, its so totally about the spices. Thanks for sharing your tips, Michaela.

  9. Ugh! I just came out of 2 weeks on the road– sleeping in the back of our van style. It feels so good to be home! On the way down, I was awesome traveling girl, stopping in grocery stores to pick up fresh produce and cooking quinoa with spices and dried mushrooms, etc. over our camp stove every night. The way back home was so not like that– random greasy spoon diners, more baked goods than I’ve eaten in YEARS, and weight gain, nasty complexion, and an ugly guilt/shame complex rearing its head. :( My tip to staying healthy on the road would be to limit the actual time on the road! I do okay for the first while and then totally lose steam when all my clothes are dirty and I haven’t washed (or brushed) my hair in a week. :)

    • Hmmm I wonder what shifted? Was it that you were just tired of being out on the road? Tired in general? Would be interesting to figure out what switched in you so that you could prepare for next time. Not washing your hair in awhile? Story of my life. I ALWAYS forget to do it. It’s a problem.

      • I think it was tired of being on the road. We had been on holidays for 3 months by then, and I was really ready to be home. Not much of an excuse for eating like a sloth, but still. I think the key for me is to do frequent, but shorter, road trips. :)

        • Eating like a sloth… well, that’s a visual! Well, now you know what works best for you! So it wasn’t all totally useless. If you learned from it, then awesome!

  10. another amazing recipe by leanne! so excited to put this sauce on everything :P
    also, did you change the font of your Healthful Pursuit website header? Super into it. If you haven’t already heard of it you should check out Lost Type Co-op for unique and fonts. A friend of mine contributed to the project. Super neat concepts! I just used Lavenderia for a project and really enjoying the fonts they have available. Anyways, check it out and enjoy :)

    • Oh cool! I’ll have to check it out! I’m actually preparing for a massive rebrand here in the coming months so I’m currently looking for new fonts and things. Thanks for the tip, Dayanna

  11. Hello:
    Do you have a recipe for soy free, dairy free, gluten free xcottage cheese? I have been beggin the manufacturerers to make this, all to no avail. You are my hope!


    • I’m sorry, I don’t! I’ve tried it multiple times but all of my attempts have failed

  12. I can imagine this is good…but no one mentioned if this tastes at all “cheesy” and appealing to kids. My son has been exposed to a lot of odd flavors so he is fairly flexible but I’m especially looking for more recipes that are gluten free’/milk free for him, that are less “exotic” flavored. I know he really misses cheese.

  13. Oh, about travel. I stayed in hostels in Europe twenty years ago (I’m now in my 40s) and didn’t worry about eating healthy at all, or much else for that matter. After 10 years living abroad, when I returned to the USA, I first set out on a 2.5 month cross country trip to see my own country…and on a very tight budget, sleeping in the back of a minivan and not eating out at all. I did not eat particularly healthy then either, aside from having a salad a day. These days we stay at $150 hotels, eat at healthy restaurants, and simply pack healthy snacks. (Although we haven’t traveled since recently becoming gluten-free (grain free for me) and dairy free…so there may be some changes ahead — thanks for getting me to think about this!) I would love to know more about hostels in the US. Not sure if I could get my hubby to go for it w/o a nice sales pitch. I’m sensitive to chemicals and perfumes (causes migraines)…many places use harsh chemicals to clean and then cover them up with horrible air fresheners. What was your experience like in this regard? Many thanks!

    • Hi Susan! There are some super awesome hostels in the US. The one I stayed in in New York was fabulous. Many of them have single rooms, too. So it’s like a hotel, but with a kitchen and much cheaper. If your husband likes your cooking, maybe he’ll go for it? I’m with you – very sensitive to chemicals and such. There are a lot of hotels in the EU that have gone chemical reduced, but I haven’t seen many in North America with the same. Sorry!

  14. I think the best way to stay healthy while travelling is to stay in a place that has a kitchen, as opposed to a hotel. I recently went to Israel for my brother’s wedding, and we found a condo on airbnb, which I highly recommend. Not only did the condo have a decent kitchen, but it was steps away from one of the largest markets in the city – so we were able to go there almost every day for fresh fruit and veggies, hummus, etc. Heavenly. I also brought a ton of gluten-free and dairy-free snacks with me – protein bars, nuts and seeds, etc. Oh, and your cheese sauce looks delish!

  15. What does the nutritional yeast have for purpose in the recipe? I do not have it at home so can I omit it? / Hugs from Sweden! =)

  16. Hi Leanne

    Just a question: you mark this recipe as candida-friendly, yet it makes use of yeast. As far as I know yeast is the list thing someone who suffers from candida should be digesting? Love the website! So glad I found it <3

  17. Thanks for another great recipe, Leanne! You’re amazing! I’m eating this right now with brown rice and it gets two big thumbs up.

    • On brown rice? Double yum! I’m so happy that you like it, Holly!

  18. I don’t have any sesame seeds, can I use tahini instead and skip the water, lemon juice and blender step?

    • Hi Liz – I’m sure that would work, but I would keep the lemon juice in there. Enjoy!

  19. Loved this! I wanted to make a quick cheezy sauce for an evening snack, didn’t feel like taking the time to make my Veganomicon favorite cheezy sauce recipe. This is easy, requires very little cook time, tastes fantastic. Thank you!

    • Hi Julia! Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to make and then review my recipe! I’m so happy that you liked it :)

  20. Thanks for this recipe! My husband and 13 month old loved it. I doubled it and served it with einkorn fusili, grated tempeh and chopped spinach. Definitely a make again!!!!

    • Grated tempeh… that’s BRILLIANT! So happy that you liked it, Leslie ;)

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