Friday, October 3, 2008

Gluten & Casein Free Cheese

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     Went for a ride to the grocery store downtown yesterday evening and came home with a few new gluten and casein free products to try out. It was a nice ride there - about 75 outside and early enough into the Friday night activities downtown that we missed most of the traffic. The ride home was nice as well, we actually stopped at the park on the way home to try some new cookies out I - well worth it, might I add. More about those later, for the moment I want to focus on this discovery:

      Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Cheese Alternative. I was actually a little intimidated to try this. I really had a hard time getting over the fake thing. Fake ice cream is good and I can really enjoy that, but some imitation products can just be really unappealing. Beer and cheese are two main ones for me. I loved the slightly darker beers so much before I went gluten-free and now the options just are not up to par for me, they all seem to be too light and funny tasting for my preference. Most cheeses have casein or other milk byproducts in the ingredients and so I haven't really worried about buying them.
      Recently, however, I've been having some serious cheese cravings. Mac & cheese, lasagna, cheesy garlic bread, enchiladas, cheese and hummus sandwiches, the list of my favorite cheese dishes goes on. I will admit to eating the real thing at times - the reaction is not as strong as gluten, but the more I eat it the worse it seems to get for me. This has prompted me to dive head first and try the 'fake stuff'.
      So how was it?
      It was good while it was hot. I melted some in small pot like it says and added some milk and margarine to hopefully make it more smooth in the end. I bought some Tinkyada's linguine and had it with that. It was a little hard to get it all to melt but I was not expecting perfection from this, so I was happy with how it was. I will say that as it started to cool off it started to get grainy, but it might stay better if the milk and margarine was not added (maybe made it separate?) or if I had kept it warm.
      Overall, I was pleased with this product. I would not cut it up and eat it on crackers or bread by itself, but I do plan on trying the mozzarella flavor and using this in some future dishes. I want to try some baked mac and cheese or some enchiladas to test this out more.
      The one thing I was really happy about and focused on when I was no longer able to eat gluten, was at least it's not milk. I could still eat all the vanilla ice cream, aged cheddar and parmigiana I could hold. A few months later I found out about the casein sensitivity and all that went down the drain. Since then, even from the beginning, I have gradually adopted vegan alternatives and found some to be really outstanding while others are less than appetizing. One rule of thumb I've found is that it is all about how you use it in a meal - I just try to think of rice and tofu - no one really likes to eat them alone, but they have wonderful flavors in a dish.
      Do you have any tips for using cheese alternatives in recipes? Are there any brands that you care for above others? What are some favorite recipes that you use cheese in? I try to make most of my cooking is pretty modifiable so that I can add cheese or other ingredients for other people and leave it out for my portion, but with products like this I might just be able to get my cheese fix anyway.


  1. The last part of your post is me! Discovered the gluten intolerance and was thankful to still have dairy BUT now seem to be having problems with casein and it's good-bye dairy too :(
    I'm searching for some good cheese, ice cream alternatives that I can buy in Australia (Bendigo, Victoria).
    Would be grateful for any suggestions.
    Thanks, Jo.

    1. A great ice cream alternative is Cashewtopia it is amazing. I have a gluten, casein, corn, carageenan (found in a lot as thickener/binder) and soy issue. Cashewtopia is free of all of these.

  2. Hey Jo -

    Thanks for the comment. I'm not too familiar with the different products available to you in Australia as I'm located in North America. I would suggest you scour your local health food stores and larger grocers for products that fit your needs. Also, speak with the managers of these places to see if they might be able to special order items for you. Most of the time they are happy to do so.

    Hope this helps a bit. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
    - Patricia

  3. I was wondering what are some Ice Cream and cheese options that you have found...Our family is going gluten and casein free now that we know my older son has Aspergers. I am reading alot on this and this blog has helped out alot

    1. Nutritional Yeast is a good substitute for cheese too and it is a raw food high in vitamin B so it is beneficial also. :-)

  4. Hey Natalie -

    I've switched over to mostly coconut based products for the sweeter dairy products like yogurt and ice cream. I like the So Delicious brand of ice cream and yogurt. As for cheese, Daiya Vegan Cheese is hands down the best gluten and casein free cheese you can buy on the market. It costs me about $4 - $5 for a standard sized bag, but it's well worth it for an occasional cheesy, gooey treat like Lasagna Rolls or quesadillas.



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