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vegetarian cheese
Food & Drinks

The 8 Best Types of Vegetarian Cheese That Taste Real

Unlike in the past when there was only a handful of known brands of cheese, today the market is awash with all kinds of cheese, most of which claim to be vegan. The number of recipes calling for vegetarian cheese has also grown exponentially.

Therefore, knowing the best types of vegetarian cheese that taste real will make your shopping easy. This article offers you the eight best types of vegan cheese that taste like the real thing.

What Is Vegetarian Cheese?

cheese

Image source: Pinterest

Vegetarian cheese is a type of non-dairy, plant-based cheese, ranging from soft cheese to old and cultured hard cheese that can be grated. The main characteristic of vegetarian cheese is the fact that it doesn’t contain animal products. The most common types of vegan cheese are normally derived from vegetable components, including proteins, fat, and milk.

However, many other types of vegan cheese are made with components derived from seeds like sesame and sunflower, and nuts, such as cashew nuts, pine nuts, almonds, and peanuts. Other common sources of vegetarian cheese include soybeans, coconut oil, tapioca, potatoes, spices, nutritional yeast, rice, among others.

It is widely claimed that vegan cheese was invented in China in the 16th century using fermented tofu and whole soy. As time went by, people started making their homemade vegetarian cheese from soy flour, yeast extract, and margarine. Hard margarine produces hard, sliceable vegetarian cheese, while softer margarine produces soft, spreadable cheese.

Vegan cheese became commercially available in the 1970s and 1980s. However, the initial product had low quality than dairy cheese, with a waxy, pallid, or plastic-like feel. A few decades ago, the only available brand of vegetarian cheese in the United States was Soymage.

But since then more brands have continued to emerge, with some manufacturers even diversifying their vegan cheeses.

For instance, soy-free vegan cheeses are now available. According to market research performed in 2018, the market for vegetarian cheese has grown on a global scale, with Europe taking the largest market share of about 43 percent, followed by the US, Asia-Pacific, South America, Middle East, and Africa.

Experts estimate that the global market for vegan cheese will attain a market value of about $3.9 billion by 2025, up from $2.1 billion in 2016.

Is Any Cheese Vegetarian?

Vegetarian

While some types of cheese can be absolutely vegan, most of them technically aren’t. It all depends on whether the product contains the sneaky animal-derived enzyme known as rennet. Originally, rennet was used to coagulate and solidify different types of cheese.

So, some unscrupulous cheese manufacturers will use this enzyme to solidify their plant-based cheese and label it as absolutely vegan.

In short, any type of cheese containing rennet or any other animal enzyme used for coagulation – separating milk into solid curds – is not vegan. This enzyme is obtained from the stomach of a ruminant animal like a cow or goat.

Therefore, you need to be careful when buying your vegetarian cheese to ensure that it doesn’t contain rennet. Most cheese manufacturers indicate one of these phrases on their product labels, especially if the products contain rennet: “animal enzymes”, “rennet”, or “enzymes”.

What’s the Difference Between Cheese and Vegetarian Cheese?

Difference

As mentioned above, real cheese comes from animal milk, including cow, goat, and sheep milk. To obtain this type of cheese, you have to separate the curds (solids) in the milk from the liquid element (whey). In most cases, acids or enzymes such as rennet are added to the milk to form curds.

The curds are then taken through several other processes, depending on the type of cheese being prepared. Vegetarian cheese, on the other, comes from plants, including vegetables, seeds, and nuts. So, the main difference between vegetarian cheese and other types of cheese is the type of rennin used to form the curds.

In other words, animal rennet is obtained from animals, and any cheese made using this type of rennet is not vegetarian. So, only cheeses that are made using rennet obtained from plants should be referred to as vegetarian.

8 Kinds of Cheese for Vegetarians

1. Violife Shreds

Violife Shreds

Image source: Violifefoods.com

Shredded cheese from the Violife brand is one of the most popular vegan cheeses. It comes in three main varieties: cheddar, Colby Jack, and mozzarella. There isn’t any major difference in taste between these varieties. However, the mozzarella shreds are somewhat milder than the rest.

One of the main reasons why Violife shreds are so special is the fact that they do melt easily when sandwiched between hot layers of grilled steak, or when put on a pizza or flatbread and placed in the oven.

2. Moocho Foods Dairy-Free Shreds

Moocho Foods

Image source: Mochofoods.com

Mocho Foods is a spinoff brand of Tofurky company, which has been making the famous vegan holiday roast. Recently, the company decided to dip its toes into the production of plant-based cheese. Surprisingly, its cheese has quickly become a favorite in homes.

Its main selling point is the ability to melt when making a hot burger. Furthermore, these shreds are flavor-forward. While most other vegan cheeses taste like real cheese but in a nondescript way, Mocho Foods’ flavors are quite distinctive.

3. Daiya Plant-Based Cheese Shreds

Daiya

Image source: Daiyafoods.com

Daiya shreds were launched in 2008, the same year when Daiya brand was established. These shreds, which are known to melt easily, were among the first upgrades to the traditional vegan cheese. Daiya mozzarella shreds are commonly found on the vegetarian option at typical pizzarias, and they are free of common allergens like tree nuts.

4. Follow Your Heart Slices

Follow Your Heart

Image source: Followyourheart.com

These slices are the number one choice for making a classic grilled cheese or topping burgers. So, if you are in the mood for something unique, you should make a tomato grilled cheese with the salty smoked gouda from Follow Your Heart. Fortunately, these slices melt neatly to work even in Toastabags.

5. Field Roast Chao Slices

Field Roast Chao Slices

Image source: Fieldroast.com

If you want a slice of cheese to stack in a fully loaded sandwich, you should reach for a Chao slice. These slices come in spicy, smoldered, and original flavors. Although they do not melt as quickly as other vegan cheese slices, they are among the tastiest. These cheese slices are made from fermented tofu, which gives them a rich, creamy flavor.

6. Parmela Creamery Slices

Parmela Creamery

Image source: Parmelacreamery.com

If you love sharp cheddar, then you should try the plant-based sharp cheddar slices from Parmela Creamery. These slices are gently fermented and are sharp enough to stand out from the brand’s mild cheddar slices. They are thicker and larger than many other vegan cheese brands. Their toughness makes them the main affair in a sandwich.

7. Kite Hill Dairy-Free Cream Cheese

Kite Hill

Image source: Kite-hill.com

Kite Hill cream cheese is one of the most preferred vegan cream cheeses. It has a smoother consistency than its competitors, more like orthodox cream cheese. It’s perfect on bagels and for sweet applications, such as cream cheese topping for carrot cakes.

8. Miyoko’s Creamery Organic Cashew Milk Mozzarella

Miyoko

Image source: Miyokos.com

Miyoko’s Creamy cultured vegan mozzarella cheese is suitable for people who love to slice their own cheese. This type of vegan cheese was inspired by mozzarella di buffala, and it’s suitable for homemade pizza Margherita. It also tastes great in a vegan Caprese salad with ripe tomatoes and good, syrupy balsamic. Its texture is semi-elastic and the taste is buttery.

Common Vegetarian Cheese Recipes

Recipes

If you are a vegetarian, there are many recipes that you can make with vegetarian cheese. The good thing about most of these types of cheese is that they taste like real cheese. Here are some of the common vegan cheese recipes you should try.

1. Herb Cashew Cream Cheese

Herb cashew cream cheese is one of the most preferred vegan cheese recipes today. The good thing about this cheese recipe is that it is very easy to make. It is also very creamy garlicky. You can make it with garlic, nutritional yeast, and other fresh herbs.

2. Vegan Blue Cheese

This vegan cheese, which tastes like real cheese, is made using traditional cheese-making techniques and simple ingredients, including cashews, coconut oil, nutritional yeast, and water. It is a creamy, sharp, and tough cheese that is perfect for Christmas celebrations.

3. Almond Feta

This is a salty and saline vegan cheese made with raw almonds and nutritional yeast. It can be crumbled over salads or melted in a variety of traditional dishes. Its flavor becomes stronger over time.

4. Nacho Cheese Dip

This type of vegan cheese is made using butter, all-purpose flour, chili powder, nutritional yeast, and salt. It is so tasty that you might not believe it is vegan.

5. Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese is quite easy to make and very delicious. Furthermore, it can stay fresh for a long time and it’s cheaper to make than traditional parmesan cheese. You will also love the fact that it is gluten and dairy-free. You just need to have cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt.

Frequently Asked Question

Is Parmesan Cheese Vegetarian?

Although currently there are several recipes for vegan parmesan cheese, the traditional parmesan cheese is not vegetarian. It is also important to mention that cheeses from a specific region need to follow a regular recipe to be accepted as having particular names.

In this case, Parmigiano-Reggiano, or Parmesan cheese, should always use animal rennet. This means that it can’t be vegetarian.

half sheet cake
Food & Drinks

Half Sheet Cake: Facts and Recipes You Should Know

In the world of baking, nothing is as sought-after and popular as a half sheet cake. These beauties are perfect for large gatherings, and they will satisfy everyone, regardless of their taste in sweets.

Stay tuned for an all-encompassing guide on the half sheet cake. From sizes to recipes, here is all that you need to know.

What Is a Half Sheet Cake?

Cake

Image source: Pinterest

A half sheet cake is shaped in a rectangle and is usually served at parties with many attendees. The shape allows for seamless and efficient cutting and helps ensure all pieces are of equal sizes.

The most common half sheet cake flavors are vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. However, these cakes can be of any flavor you want and like, which is another thing that makes them so appealing.

These cakes can either have one or two layers. A two-layer cake will definitely feed more people, so that is something you should get for really large gatherings, such as office parties.

Most of the time, half sheet cakes are decorated with buttercream frosting. However, that is always up to your personal preference. In essence, you can decorate it in any way you like.

What Sizes Are There?

Half sheet cake sizes vary depending on where you get the cakes. Most bakeries offer a few sizes, ranging from 15 by 11 inches to 16 by 12 inches.

Things are a bit different when it comes to homemade cakes. Most homes do not have big ovens, so these cakes are seldom bigger than 14 by 9 inches.

Differences Between Full, Half, and Quarter Sheet Cake Sizes

Differences

Image source: Pinterest

Apart from half, sheet cakes also come in quarter and full sizes. Full sheet cakes are rarely homemade, as they can be as big as 24 by 18 inches, and most home ovens are much smaller. These cakes can feed up to a hundred people, which makes them a great choice for large birthday parties, weddings, and similar gatherings.

Quarter sheet cakes are the smallest of the three. They usually don’t exceed 13 by 9 inches, and they can feed up to 24 people. They are usually homemade, often for lowkey birthday celebrations.

How Many People Does a Half Sheet Cake Feed?

Depending on the size you go for, a half sheet cake can feed from 18 to 40 people. If you opt for a double-layer cake, you will have more to work with. So, they are a good choice if you need a bigger cake but don’t want to get a full sheet one or don’t need as much.

How Much Does a Half Sheet Cake Cost?

The price of your cake will depend on several factors, including its size, flavor, decoration, and whether it has two layers or one. Most one-layer cakes cost around $40, while those with two layers don’t exceed $65.

Still, prices vary from bakery to bakery, so you should do a bit of research if you want to find some more affordable options.

Half Sheet Cake Recipes

Though you can always go out and buy a cake, there is a certain satisfaction in baking it yourself. What’s more, you get to make it exactly the way you want and use ingredients of your own choosing.

If you want to bake a half sheet cake and need some recipes to get started, read on. The sections that follow will teach you how to make two classics: the vanilla and chocolate half sheet cakes.

Chocolate Half Sheet Cake Recipe

Chocolate

Image source: Pinterest

Here are the ingredients you will need for the cake:

• 2 c. flour

• 2 c. sugar

• ¼ tsp. salt

• 4 heaping tsp. cocoa

• 2 sticks butter

• 1 c. boiling water

• ½ c. buttermilk

• 2 whole beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 1 tsp. vanilla

First off, take a saucepan and put the butter sticks in it to melt on medium heat. Once they are melted, add the cocoa and stir. Add the boiling water to the saucepan as well, and let it boil for around half a minute.

In a mixing bowl, combine your flour, sugar, and salt. Then, add the boiling butter and cocoa mixture, and stir lightly to cool it.

Take a measuring cup and measure out your buttermilk. Add the eggs, vanilla, and baking powder. Once everything has mixed well, add it to your mixing bowl. Stir everything together carefully. Do it by hand rather than with a mixer, as that will make the cake fluffier and more moist.

Pour everything into a baking pan and bake it at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. Those twenty minutes should give you enough time to make your frosting.

As with most half sheet cakes, the frosting/icing can be anything you like. You can melt some chocolate and butter, combine it with sliced nuts or pecans and pour it over the cake once it is out of the oven.

Alternatively, you can make buttercream or just use whipped cream and some caramel or chocolate topping. Just make sure your cake is cool first, if you plan on using any type of cream on it.

Vanilla Half Sheet Cake Recipe

Vanilla

Image source: Pinterest

Here’s what you need for the cake:

• 2 sticks butter

• 1 c. water

• 2 c. all-purpose flour

• ½ c. sour cream

• 2 c. sugar

• 2 whole beaten eggs

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1 tsp. baking powder

Bring water and butter to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. As that is happening, mix all your other ingredients, starting with the flour and sugar, followed by the eggs, sour cream, baking powder, and vanilla. Finally, pour in the butter mixture and stir everything together until it’s smooth.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In the meantime, pour your mixture into a greased baking pan. After a few minutes, put the pan into the oven and bake for about twenty minutes.

Icing

This cake requires a special kind of icing. You can make it while the cake is in the oven. Here is what you will need:

• 1 stick butter

• ¼ c. milk

• 4 ½ c. powdered sugar

• ½ tsp. vanilla (or almond extract, depending on preference)

Combine the powdered sugar and vanilla/almond extract in a mixing bowl. Set it aside as you focus on the butter and milk.

Take a medium-sized saucepan and let your butter and milk melt, and mix. Do that on medium heat, as you’re not in a hurry. Once everything is melted and combined, pour it into the powdered sugar mixture.

Stir everything until it’s smooth. If you notice that the frosting might be a bit too thick, you can add some milk to rectify the situation. Still, as long as you can work with it and spread it over the cake, you’ll be fine.

It is important that you let the cake cool for at least twenty minutes before you put the frosting on it. Otherwise, everything will melt, and the consistency of the frosting will be ruined.

Once you put the frosting on, let the cake rest for another twenty minutes. Ideally, it should rest for at least an hour, but you can cut it after those twenty minutes if you are in a hurry or you have guests over. And just like that, your vanilla half sheet cake will be done and ready!


Featured image source: Pinterest.com

health benefits of beets
Food & Drinks, Health

7 Health Benefits of Beets That You Need to Know

Although often overlooked, beets are a powerful superfood. From their distinct reddish coloring to their impactful earthy flavor, beets contain a unique and beneficial set of nutrients. Here are seven health benefits of beets that you need to know.

What Are Beets?

Beets

Beets are root vegetables full of water, carbohydrates, and fiber with a primary vitamin and mineral makeup of manganese, iron, potassium, folate, and vitamin C. Beet leaves, or beet greens are edible as well and full of B vitamins.

Distinguished by their unique colorings, coming in yellow, pink, white, or the most common dark red, there are many different types of beets. The dark red hue comes from the plant compound betalain, a red pigment containing many additional nutritional benefits.

7 Health Benefits of Beets

Benefits

1. Blood Pressure

The high concentration of nitrates in beets helps lower blood pressure levels and stabilize overall heart health. In the bloodstream, nitrates transform into nitric oxide, sending relax signals to muscle cells near arteries which causes blood vessels to dilate and reduce blood pressure.

The nitrates gained from beets lessen blood pressure levels for a few hours, while regularly eating beets can exhibit long-term benefits.

2. Physical Performance

Nitrates can also improve physical performance. Once in the body, nitrates, transformed into nitric oxide, enhance stamina and boost oxygen by improving mitochondrial efficiency and widening blood vessels. Nitrate levels peak around 2 to 3 hours after ingesting beets.

3. Inflammation

Betalain, the pigment that gives beets their deep red color, can lessen inflammation, such as kidney inflammation. However, human studies would need to be conducted to confirm these results since most of the existing research is on rats.

4. Digestive

Digestive health is crucial to one’s well-being. Beets contain 3.4 g of fiber per cup and assist in regulating stools and preventing IBS flare-ups, diverticulitis, and constipation.

Additionally, ingesting enough fiber is shown to decrease the risk of certain diseases such as colon cancer. Further, the soluble fiber found in beets can help regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol levels.

5. Cognitive Function

A person’s cognitive function typically diminishes with the natural aging process. The loss of sufficient blood flow to the brain might be a significant contributing factor to this decline.

Research suggests nitrates could dilate blood vessels, leading to increased blood flow and, therefore, cognitive functioning. Increasing blood flow to the frontal lobe can influence higher-level thinking, working memory, and even decision-making.

6. Disease-Fighting

Beets may prevent and fight diseases with their high concentration of nitrates, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties. Due to their previously discussed benefits, nitrates might lessen the chance of illness by boosting overall health.

Additionally, the natural antioxidant compounds in beets can increase cell protection. Beetroot extract has even shown the potential to slow tumor cells.

7. Weight Loss

While few scientific studies concern the effects of beets on weight loss, beets are 87% water and contain a low-calorie count, making them a diet superfood. Additionally, they have lots of fiber which lessens appetite and helps regulate the digestive system.

Successfully clearing the digestive system helps flush out any extra weight of waste build-up.

How to Incorporate Beets into Your Diet

diet

There are many ways to add beets to your diet, as beets can be eaten raw, cooked, or pickled. You can even drink beet juice and eat beet leaves.

However, there are some cautions and considerations to make before adding them to your diet. Due to their deep red pigmentation, beets can cause urine to turn pinkish, which, although harmless, people often mistake the coloring for blood.

Beets contain oxalates, especially in their leaves, which have antinutrient properties and can lead to kidney stones if eaten in excess. Additionally, beets have FODMAPs which can irritate those with conditions like IBS.

can you freeze almond milk
Food & Drinks

Can You Freeze Almond Milk? Find Your Answer Here

Vegan, environmentally sustainable, and free of lactose, almond milk has recently risen in popularity. But, it can be challenging to use an entire container of fresh almond milk during its short shelf-life. Can you freeze almond milk? Keep reading and find your answer here.

What Is Almond Milk?

Almond Milk

Almond milk is plant-based milk with a nutty flavor. It is an excellent dietary substitution for those with lactose intolerance, or high cholesterol, as it contains no cholesterol, no lactose, and low fat.

As one of the most sustainable milk options, almond milk is a staple in the environmental veganism movement. Almond milk can be store-bought or made at home.

Can You Freeze Almond Milk?

Yes, you can freeze almond milk, but most almond milk manufacturers do not advise it. While freezing almond milk does preserve it, the texture and the taste change in the process, slightly diminishing its quality.

What Happens to Almond Milk When It Freezes?

Almond milk does not freeze well because when it thaws, the proteins and fats separate. Not only does this alter the texture, but it also alters the taste. Blending thawed almond milk can help with the texture changes, but there is no way to return it to its original state.

When Should You Freeze Almond Milk?

Freezing almond milk is a great way to save money and conserve food. You should freeze almond milk when you intend to use it as an ingredient in a cooked, baked, or blended dish. Do not freeze almond milk if you intend on drinking it plain.

How to Freeze Almond Milk

how to freeze

There are several different ways to freeze almond milk. When planning for a holiday or large meal that requires an entire carton of almond milk, you can freeze the milk in its existing unopened carton.

To freeze large quantities of opened cartons, pour the almond milk into a freezable airtight container for larger quantities. When preparing for smoothies, protein shakes, or smaller recipes, portion the milk into ice cube trays, leaving enough space for expansion, then transfer the frozen blocks into dated freezer baggies.

Can You Eat Frozen Almond Milk?

Despite undergoing texture and taste changes, frozen almond milk is edible. It even works well for smoothies, protein shakes, baked goods, and cooked dishes. However, do not drink thawed almond milk plain or use it in cereal because of the blatant difference in taste and texture.

How to Use Frozen Almond Milk

Frozen almond milk is suitable for an array of recipes. It is a perfect icy base for smoothies and protein shakes. Once melted and blended, almond milk is also a good coffee whitener.

How Long Does Frozen Almond Milk Last?

How Long

A container of fresh almond milk, once opened, lasts between seven and ten days. Frozen almond milk can last up to six months, although it’s best when used within three months. Once thawed, it needs to be used within a couple of days to avoid spoilage.

How to Thaw Frozen Almond Milk

Thaw almond milk slowly by placing it in the fridge, allowing it to melt gradually. If you must speed up the process, use a lukewarm water bath by putting the milk container in a bowl of lukewarm water. Once the milk has melted, you will want to blend it in the blender for around 30 seconds to help with the separated texture.

Can You Refreeze Almond Milk?

You should not refreeze almond milk. Upon refreezing, the separation and taste worsen. Additionally, there is an increased risk of spoilage.

How to Tell If Almond Milk Is Bad

The ability to determine almond milk spoilage is essential if you intend to freeze it or make it yourself. Often people confuse almond milk’s natural tendency to separate for spoilage. Spoiled almond milk has a thicker texture with a clumpy consistency. Once bad, it tastes sour and smells like soured cow’s milk.