With several members of our family experiencing problems digesting dairy, it has posed a problem finding alternatives to the foods they have loved and taken for granted. You really don’t realize how much dairy you consume until you try to give it up. Sometimes, we simply don’t find replacements that satisfy, and then the disappointment and discouragement sets in, or they suffer through, just eating what they think tastes good. The taste and texture can be so different in some alternatives that it simply isn’t palatable. The other issue is that these products are often so much more expensive than the food we’ve been accustomed to. We have happily had the opportunity to test some products that have offered us some tasty options and are easier to find and afford. They are available in many health food stores and the through the Whole Foods chain.
Follow Your Heart produces the familiar brand name, VEGENAISE, and a couple others that may not be quite as familiar, but are just as good, VEGAN GOURMET CHEESE ALTERNATIVES and FOLLOW YOUR HEART SALAD DRESSINGS. Our family was able to try the new Soy-Free Vegenaise, Follow Your Heart Vegan Ranch Salad Dressing, Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese Alternative and Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese Alternative. I am excited about and pleased with all of them.
Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese has a softer texture than the dairy Mozzarella you may be used to, but the flavor is very good. When melted, the Vegan Gourmet Cheese does not get the stringy, pull-it-for-a-mile consistency that you will expect from mozzarella, but it does melt, more like creamy liquid at first and then sets up a little bit.
The Cream Cheese Alternative is delicious and though I detected that it seems to taste slightly saltier than dairy cream cheese, I have used it with fruit, as a spread on crackers and on bagels with jam. It’s really yummy and I didn’t notice any difference in the texture of the Vegan Gourmet Cream Cheese when compared to the texture of dairy cream cheese. It can be used in cheesecakes (which I haven’t tried, but am definitely going to), frostings and all kinds of dessert recipes.
The true test of any products at our house are whether or not my husband and kids will eat them. No matter how healthy I hope they will try to be, if they don’t like a food, they simply will NOT allow it to cross their lips. I get no back-up on this one, because David loves food and he won’t waste his time eating something he doesn’t enjoy. He’ll just go get the food he loves. He also has a tendency to decide before he has even tasted something, that he won’t like it, so occasionally…not that often really…maybe only like once in a blue moon…really, it’s hardly ever… I just don’t tell him what he’s eating. The psychological rejection of something new is bypassed and voila! He likes it. And THAT’S when I tell him. 🙂 So, this next test was absolutely critical. The two products I expected the most resistance about were the Ranch Dressing and the Vegenaise (mayonnaise).
I’m not sure how your kids are about Ranch Dressing, but mine…well let’s just say, “They’re militant.” They eat it on EVERYTHING — veggies, french fries, salads, tacos, etc. They even dip cheesies, tacos and chicken strips in it. If it’s dippable, my kids and grandkids have probably put it in Ranch Dressing. To say they are particular about its taste is a gross understatement. They definitely know what they like. While my older kids said that they could taste a difference, they never actually stepped away and stopped eating the Vegan Ranch Dressing. The younger kids dug in and never came up for air until all three sliced cucumbers, they were dipping, had been devoured.
Now, for the toughest test of all – my “I’m sure I won’t like it” husband. I decided to make one of his favorite ham sandwiches for lunch and test out the Vegenaise without actually sharing with him that I was using it. (I know it will seem like a ridiculous paradox to those of you who are vegetarian or vegan, that I would use vegan mayonnaise on meat. I totally get that it must seem weird to you. OUR issue is not with meat, though. At our house, lactose intolerance and dairy allergies are what I’m trying to avoid.)
SANDWICH MAKING TIP: If your family loves sandwiches made with thin sliced deli meat, but your budget cringes a little at the cost, plus you’re trying to help everyone eat in moderation and get healthy, I have a great tip for “stre-e-e-e-tching the meat a little further and fooling their eyes into thinking they are eating a lot more meat than they are. If you loosely roll deli meat slices into “tubes” before laying them on your sandwich, the rolls will “stand up” higher in the sandwich, making it seem thicker and letting your family’s eyes convince their stomachs that they are eating more than they are.
I added fresh tomato slices, lettuce and sweet red bell pepper to the sandwich, which was made on Oatmeal Bread. I even served him a few of his favorite potato chips, so he felt like he was really splurging for this special lunch. He made quick work of the sandwich, oooohhing and aaaahhing over how good it tasted. I’ll have to let him in on the secret, I suppose. … Maybe, later. 😉
I would have no problem substituting Vegenaise in recipes where I would normally use mayonnaise. Texturally, and taste-wise, we found little difference. I haven’t personally baked with it, yet, but this recipe for Vegan and Gluten-Free German Chocolate Cupcakes leads me to believe I will have no difficulty. Yum!
To learn more about Follow Your Heart and their products, I want to encourage you to follow them on Facebook and Twitter. It will be a great way to keep up on the latest news and learn more about all the different products they make. I know I am definitely going to be checking out the info on their thick and creamy salad dressings and their horseradish sauce, for David.
Don’t forget to use the Rafflecopter Form, below, to enter this generous giveaway to win the Vegan Made Easy Gift Set pictured in this post. Click DO IT and FOLLOW the INSTRUCTIONS written there, for the Mandatory Entry, then click Enter and that’s it. You can take advantage of the optional, additional entries that open, after that. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I received a Vegan Made Easy Kit, to test the products in my own kitchen and collect information for this review. No monetary compensation was received. As with all Busy-at-Home reviews, the views and opinions are wholly my own and based on my personal experience with the product. Busy-at-home is administering the giveaway and selecting a winner at random, using random.org. Follow Your Heart is supplying and shipping the prize to the winner.