The Tastiest Dairy-Free Cheese Alternatives. Ever. Part 1. (Cream cheeses)

Why do people love cheese so much?
Did you know that when people change their diet, one of the foods they miss the most is cheese?

I thought it was just me, until I started finding my intolerant clients missed cheese too and I watched this video by Dr. Neal Barnard talking about why people find certain foods addictive (he talks about cheese from 8 – 15 minutes into the video ) and I realised that it was actually a real phenomena. When people have to go dairy free, they really miss cheese.

In addition to  Dr. Barnad’s neurochemistry explanations for why people miss cheese, I think there’s also a cooking-habit/ behavioural component that goes with it. Because cheese is used in so many ways in cooking, and it’s a key ingredient in so many dishes because lets face it – it takes more time, effort and cooking know-how to build up flavour in a recipe without cheese than to have a pretty simple meal and just add cheese to it. (It’s a lot like cooking with meat. It’s easy, you fry a steak and you add salad. Meal done. But what do you have on the plate when you take the steak off it? Suddenly you need to think a bit more about it).

So one of my early missions was to find some “good” dairy free cheese alternatives for people who can’t eat dairy. By “good” I mean in both flavour and texture. The nutritional value of cheese alternatives is considerably different to dairy cheeses and that’s a whole different discussion that we’ll leave for another time.

From a cooking perspective though, cheese is pretty versatile. It adds both flavour and texture to recipes. It comes in so many different forms, it can be solid, so you can slice it and have it on crackers, it can melt, it can crumble, you can use it as a dip… Basically there are just so many ways to use it.

So I thought it would be useful to present these alternatives as a cheese series:

  1. Part 1: Dairy-Free Cream cheeses / dip-style cheese alternatives (see below)
  2. Part 2: Dairy-Free Cheeses you can slice (for sandwiches)
  3. Part 3: Dairy-Free Cheese sauces
  4. Part 4: Dairy-Free cheeses (that actually melt)
  5. Part 5: Dairy-Free Cheeses you can sprinkle

Today is all about cream cheese alternatives.  I’ve listed them from the more processed commercially available options to the less processed more whole food or home made options (like I did with the 7 mince meat alternatives article).

So let’s “dip” into it…

  1. Anne’s favourite alternative: Tofutti soy-based cream cheese.

These commercially produced cream cheese alternatives are what Anne describes as the  closest to cows milk based cream cheese in texture and flavour. In the Lasagne episode Anne uses the Tofutti cream cheese, because when it comes to cooking Anne wants options she can find at the supermarket and that don’t take a long time to prepare and that taste as much as the dairy option as possible.

anne tofutti

2. Lisa’s FavouritesI like to cook with whole foods, but when I don’t have time to whip something up from scratch, then I do my best to find commercial options with as many whole food ingredients as possible so my all-time favourite cream cheese dip alternative is this one  Botanical Cuisine Classic Cheese it’s really really yummy

Botanical cuisine

3. Lisa’s Favourites: Peace Love & Vegetables Dill Cashew Cheese this is also a delicious cashew cream cheese/  dip alternative, also full of whole food ingredients (including love particles;-).

peace love and vegetables

4. Glenys’ FavouriteGlenys likes to make things herself and cook with as many whole foods as she can, her favourite is this  Savoury ricotta style cashew cheese from the Lasagne episode.

Glenys ricotta style cheese

So which of these are you looking forward to trying?

Next in this series, we’ll talk about cheeses you can slice.