Taste Test: Best Alternative Dairy Products
Whether you are lactose-intolerant, vegan, paleo or just looking for a healthier alternative to regular cheese, there are many options available to you. After completing a taste test of meatless meats, I was inspired to do the same for dairy. Here are my grades on some popular options.
Daiya – Pepperjack style shreds - B
Get ready for this one. Daiya is dairy, lactose, casein, gluten, soy, GMO and cholesterol free, and many vegans swear by it. I had high expectations for this, but, despite the impressive list of things its not, I’m not sure it lived up to the hype. It has a bit of a strange taste on its own, but has good texture and melts exactly like normal cheese. I had the pepperjack style over some veggie chili and it was fine, but nothing special.
Daiya – Havarti Style Wedge – Jalapeno garlic - D
Another one from the brand that has become synonymous with animal-free cheese. While the pepperjack shreds were passable, I really didn’t like this one. Maybe it was just the wrong flavor for me, but this left a strong aftertaste that was just unpleasant.
Lisanatti Food – Almond Mozzarella Style Cheese - A
I was excited to try the almond-based cheese, but like several other options here, it contains casein, or milk protein, and is off-limits to vegans. I recruited some help and was even more disappointed to hear that it’s amazingly good. It achieves an authentic mozzarella flavor and went great in a grilled cheese sandwich. Even better, it is super healthy with zero saturated fat and trans fat, and lots of protein and calcium.
Soy Kaas – Mild cheddar flavor - B
This also falls in the non-vegan pile, and our tasters reported that it was a bit bland but a decent substitute. It melts well and would be a good choice for mac and cheese for non-lactose folks.
Galaxy Nutritional Foods – Vegan Classic Plain Cream Cheese - A
WOW. Some of you may remember from my vegan challenge that I was underwhelmed by the first vegan cream cheese I tried at my bagel place. If they had given me this I would have been a happy camper. This doesn’t exactly replicate normal cream cheese, but it’s delicious. It’s light but also has a perfect creamy texture. Yum.
Tofutti – Better Than Cream Cheese – B-
This looks just like reach cream cheese and has more of the tang of cream cheese than Galaxy’s version, but it still wasn’t as good. It has the lowest number of calories, so may be the best choice for those on a diet, but any of these three are much lower fat than the real thing, so I wouldn’t feel guilty choosing the better-tasting Galaxy.
Follow Your Heart – Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese – F
7Like the meatless “pepperoni” I tried, this goes in the inedible pile. It just tasted terrible and had a weird consistency. Despite the cute name, we won’t be eating this again.
Galaxy Nutritional Foods – Rice Shreds, Mozzarella Flavor - A
We gave this a go on homemade pizza, and it was great. It melted just like regular cheese and really tastes just like the real thing. The only downside: it contains casein. Sorry vegans!
Galaxy Nutritional Foods – Rice: Grated Parmesan Flavor – B+
Another good one from this brand! We tried this on top of some risotto and probably wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference between the real thing. It didn’t really add any flavor like a good parmesan would, but it did the trick. Also not vegan.
Earth Balance- Original Buttery Spread – A
I only tried one non-dairy butter, but I don’t feel like I have to look any further. Based on a natural, non-hydrogenated oil blend of canola, soybean, flax and olive, this product has zero trans fats, only 100 calories per serving and supports healthy cholesterol levels. It’s also great in baking!
Almond Breeze – Almond Milk – A
This is a great alternative to dairy milk. It’s lower in calories than soy milk (only 60 cals per cup!) and tastes good in everything from cereal to smoothies to baked goods.
Silk - Vanilla Soy Milk - A
This is a winner. It has a refreshing, deliciously vanilla taste that is great with coffee or on it’s own with a cookie. It has 50% more calcium than dairy milk and is a good source of nutritionally complete soy protein. A little thicker than almond milk, its still light and refreshing.
Nature’s Promise - Organic Soy Milk - B
The Stop & Shop brand Nature’s Promise also makes a nice soy milk, but it tasted a little bit watered down to me. I also thought it was pretty bland without the vanilla flavor, but it is lower in sugar, which may make it more attractive to some.
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