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Say (Vegan) Cheese!

Are you all ready for a super informative excerpt from The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, by Karen Page? Today is National Cheese day, so it’s only appropriate that we delve into vegan cheeses! Read all of the way to the end so that you can enter to win a copy of this AWESOME book!

Say (Vegan) Cheese!
by Karen Page
(based on an excerpt from THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE)
Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page

Cheese addiction is one of the last things standing in the way of would-be vegans. Indeed, as my husband Andrew Dornenburg and I sought to reduce our consumption of eggs and dairy, we easily stopped buying eggs and butter and yogurt. A wedge of Parmesan cheese was long the last bit of dairy to be found in our refrigerator, however. And it took us months to evolve our regular order for our favorite neighborhood pie – a large ‘Shroomtown pizza on organic multigrain crust with roasted garlic from Vezzo in Manhattan’s Murray Hill – to evolve from “light cheese” to “half-cheese” to “NO cheese,” which is how we’ve been ordering it for the past several months even prior to our participation in “Veganuary.”

I interviewed bestselling author Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) about the phenomenon for The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, and he shared that some people’s addiction to cheese is physical. “Nutritionally, [cheese] is awful – with a very high content of saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium…It’s not just taste, it’s not just mouthfeel – dairy producets are unique in that they release casomorphins, and cheese has a much higher concentration of them than milk or ice cream,” he told me. “If I stuck a needle in your arm a half-hour after you ate cheese, there would be opiates in your bloodstream and attaching to your brain. While it’s not enough to make you drive dangerously or rob a convenience store, it’s enough to make you say the next day, ‘I think I’d like a little more cheese.’”

A cottage industry of vegan cheeses has sprung up. Vancouver-based Daiya cheese debuted in 2008, supported by a strong marketing campaign, and launched a retail line in 2010. Vegenaise makers Follow Your Heart debuted their line of Vegan Gourmet shredded vegan cheeses in 2013.

Portobello Trattoria PDX Vegan Restaurant

Many vegans enjoy branded vegan cheeses, which come in various flavors (e.g., cheddar, mozzarella) and often melt and stretch much as dairy cheese does. Just last week, Andrew and I enjoyed a vegan slice at The Slice of Life in Sebastopol, California, which we were told was made with shredded Follow Your Heart mozzarella-style cheese. We were impressed with its very mild flavor and melting texture – which is sometimes lacking in other brands.

I have to admit that I’ve been even more impressed with the flavor of some of the artisanal vegan cheeses I’ve tasted. In addition to serving cashew cheese on its vegan pizza, Portobello Vegan Trattoria in Portland, Oregon, serves an artisanal vegan cheese plate that has showcased cheeses from cheese makers across the country, including Field Roast, Seattle-based producer of Chao Cheese (herb-crusted, tofu-based cheeses), Door 86 (Nashville), Heidi Ho (Portland, OR), Kite Hill (Hayward, CA), Punk Rawk Labs (Minneapolis), and Treeline Treenut Cheese (Kingston, NY).

Vegan Cheese Rounds

The very best artisanal vegan cheese I’ve ever tasted was made by a woman named Lori Robin (above right) — who goes by Cheezehound – based in Fleischmanns, New York. Last July, we were houseguests of our omnivore actress friend Susan Dey, who couldn’t remember if we were eating vegetarian or vegan at the time, and bought some of Lori’s vegan cheese at a local farmers market for us. When we tried Lori’s peppercorn-flavored Brie-style vegan cheese (made with a combination of hemp seed milk and macadamia nut milk), we were truly floored. It turned out to be the first-ever vegan cheese we ever truly loved. (Thank you, Susan!)

Miyoko Schinner Artisan Vegan Cheese

Interested in trying to make your own? You’ll want to pick up a copy of Miyoko Schinner’s 2012 book Artisan Vegan Cheese, which is developing a cult following among vegan chefs and foodies.

And the next time you or your friends are trying to kick your dairy cheese habit, look to the handy chart in Chapter 2 (pp. 76-80) of THE VEGETARIAN FLAVOR BIBLE excerpted here for other ways to tame the crave:

 

IF YOU ARE CRAVING….

 

This                                                    Try This Instead

 

cheese                                                  cashew or other nut-based cheese

 

cheese, cream                                      soy cream cheese

 

cheese, Parmesan                                Parma brand vegan “Parmesan”

 

cheese, ricotta                                     ground almond, cashew, macadamia or pine nut “ricotta” half nondairy cream cheese + half  firm tofu, mashed tofu “ricotta,” made from crumbled tofu

 

cheese, smoked                                   smoked tofu (e.g,. on sandwiches, in salads)

 

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Return of the Mac MoFo!

It’s that time again, everyone. Time for Vegan MoFo 2014 and I couldn’t be more excited! Last year, I got pretty crazy with the Born to Mac MoFo theme and this year I’m taking it to another level with Return of the Mac. It will be hard to beat dishes like Buffalo Chickpea Mac and Mozzarella Mac Deep Dish Pizza, but I’m going to show you guys some pretty drool-worthy creations.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had a lot of time to cook in the last month, so I have just a couple of preview pics for your enjoyment.

Avocado Pepita Bacon Mac

Baked Mediterranean Mac and Cheese

Get ready for some serious Mac action!

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Banana Cacao Recovery Smoothie

Originally, I thought that January would be a month of leveling out from the holidays, but for some reason I’ve found that this month has been filled with all kinds of events, birthdays, dinners and the like. Not to mention, I’m working on the photos for Lindsay’s (Happy Herbivore) next cookbook and have been very busy with that. I’m really excited for this one and think that it will be even better than the last!

Some other things that inevitably come with January are people trying to eat better and be more physically active. This means that you may find yourself needing to recuperate after an awesome workout sooner than later. I have just the smoothie for you! Naturally sweetened with dates, combined with bananas and rich cacao nibs, plus a little vanilla to perfect it. It’s creamy, but not too thick and has a rich flavor.

Loaded with potassium for hydration and carbohydrates for regeneration, it’ll help you out, big time. This is probably where I should mention that this smoothie is also great for hangovers ;). Plus, recovery drinks are important for drinking right after work outs because they reduce fatigue and prolonged muscle soreness. Just make sure to enjoy it right after your workout!

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Top 13 Recipes of 2013!

Top 13 Recipes of 2013

It wouldn’t be the end of the year if there wasn’t a top recipe list on here, right? Last year’s was awesome, but we may have topped it! Take a look at which recipes I made this year were most popular. Warning: You may need a tissue for that drool dribble by the end of it. ;)

13. BBQ Party Pack- The perfect solution to bring some delectable food to your friend or family’s BBQ! No need to eat a tasteless, rubbery burger patty.

12. Vegan Ceviche- I can’t believe it took me this long to make a vegan ceviche, but I am SO glad that I did. This came out insanely good!

11. Mini Pizza Pies!-  Fun, kid and dad-friendly, not to mention DELICIOUS! Also, get ready for a few more pizzas on this list. ;)

10. Mediterranean Pesto Pizza- Need a change-up from your red sauced-veggie pizza? Try out this Pesto Pizza!

9. Mozzarella Mac Deep Dish Pizza- When I see that people actually made this pizza, I have to say, I get SO incredibly excited. It was definitely one of my favorite recipes from Born to Mac MoFo.

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