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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Finally - Dairy-Free Cheese
One of the hardest things to give up when going vegan is cheese.  Of course it tastes good, but that's not why it's so difficult.  There are ingredients in cheese that are addictive because they are similar to morphine.  The theory is that these "morphine-like" substances ensure that babies will nurse.  Weaning makes sense when you think about the fact that babies need to have these substances reduced from their diets gradually, otherwise they will go through withdrawal.

The opiates found in dairy products are found in casein, the main dairy protein, and break apart when digested to release tiny opiate molecules, called casomorphins.  To make matters worse, because cheese is processed in a manner that removes water, whey proteins and lactose the casein is concentrated.*

For me, eliminating dairy was a no brainer when I learned about the dairy industry (That's a topic for another blog), the health risks and the environmental dammage caused by the production of dairy products.

That doesn't mean that I don't miss cheese.  I do.  But not enough to ignore the problems I see with dairy-based foods.  So I don't eat it.  I've tried a few dairy substitutes, some were OK, others were downright horrible.  For the past few years I've depended on a Vegan Soy Parmesan to lend certain recipes that salty/savory flavor.  Other than that, nadda.  Until now...

I've been reading about a new "cheese" on the market that really hits the spot for those folks who no longer eat cheese.  It's calle Daiya.  I finally bought some on a trip to Whole Foods last week.  Of course I had to open the bag and taste the shredded mozzarella version as soon as I got home.  I found the flavor to be very similar to dairy-based mozzarella. 

The next test was pizza.  I haven't had cheese on a pizza in years and have come to a point where I don't even miss it.  But I made a pizza the other night and topped it with the Daiya.  It melted well enough.  Now for the taste test.  I found it to be tasty, but did it bring back memories of pizza dripping with mozzarella....I can't say it did.

My next experiment was putting some on a veggie burger.  Again, it was good, but I think I would have enjoyed the burger as much even without the Daiya.  I sprinkled some on some broccoli, too, with similar results.

Maybe I'm just so used to not having cheese that I no longer need it to feel satisfied. 

Will I buy Daiy non-dairy cheese again?  Probably.  Do I still miss my cheese?  When I think about it, not really.  I've weaned myself off of dairy products.  And that's a good thing. 

But if you miss cheese, or if you want to reduce or eliminate cheese from your diet but still have a hard time parting with the gooey topping, consider Daiya brand non-dairy cheese.  It's also soy, gluten, lactose and casein free.  Enjoy!

*You can read "The China Study" by T. Collin Cambell to find out more about how casein and other animal proteins cause cancer and other health problems.
3:34 pm est

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Christine Scalfo

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