The one food that most vegans and lactose-intolerant folks miss is cheese. Gooey, fatty, and creamy, cheese does things that few other natural foods can duplicate. It melts, holding things like bread and tortilla chips together. Great national cuisines have been built on the back of cheese: think Italian Mozzarella, French Brie, Wisconsin Cheddar.
The only thing is, many MANY people are lactose intolerant, or their guts get clogged up by cow’s milk products, or they just think it’s gross to drink the milk from a hormone-fed bovine.
The brilliant, and possibly diabolical, food scientists of the world have been coming up with dairy-free cheese replacements for years now, but only recently have quality, tasty, meltingly yummy products hit the market. Since I like playing with my food and enjoy making “healthy junk food” every once in a while, I thought it would be fun for me, and my readers, to explore the world of dairy-free cheeses.
Not only will vegans appreciate the reviews, but also all those lactose-un-lovers. The great thing about vegan cheeses is that there’s NO cholesterol, making these foods healthier for people concerned about heart disease.
First up: Rice Vegan Slices
Made by Galaxy Nutritional Foods, Rice Vegan blocks and slices have been on health food store shelves for a while now. Both dairy and soy free, these cheeses have added calcium for a nutritional boost.
My recipe: Grilled “cheese” sandwich
I decided to go with the old standard, the grilled cheese sandwich. I was hungry enough to want more than nachos, and besides, I was out of tortilla chips.
2 slices Food For Life Sprouted Ezekiel bread
2 slices each Rice Vegan Pepper Jack and Cheddar
Preheat your skillet or panini press. My favorite toy in the kitchen this week? My cuisinart Griddler
(on sale here, by the way)
Slather the inside of each piece of bread with enough veganaise to cover. Layer the vegan cheese and form a sandwich. Lightly “butter” the top of the sandwich with Earth Balance.
Then take another 1 teaspoon dab of Earth Balance and melt it on the heated Griddler. Set the sandwich, “buttered” side up, on the griddler, and press down. Cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. You can check after 3 minutes to see how much the cheese is melting, and this Griddler give you nice even grill marks.
This sandwich was pretty good. The cheese didn’t melt all the way through by the time the bread was done grilling. This could have been avoided by grilling the sandwich in a cast iron skillet on both sides for a minute and then baking in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes.
Added Calcium, Pre-Sliced for easy preparation of sandwiches and snacks, this brand also offers organic vegan cheeses which are hard to come by.
Doesn’t melt quite as well or taste quite as good as some other vegan cheeses
My rating overall:
A Big Vegan Silver Star