A couple of months ago, back in the spring of 2017, I heard from my mom that she found almond cheese at her local Whole Foods, which if I recall accurately, I pretty much acted like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away” when he was successful making a fire.
I am not necessarily lactose intolerant, but when I quit sugar, I stopped all of my dairy intake, and I felt SO MUCH BETTER. Dairy makes me bloat and I would have moderate tummy discomfort, but for me the biggest benefit of all going dairy-free was the mucus relief. Sorry, should have warned you we’d be talking about mucus, but here it goes! Total honesty.
Since I used to eat a LOT of cheese, I mean a good dose per day, dang I loved the stuff, every morning I would wake up just feeling like I had tons of mucus in the back of my throat to cough out. I felt nasty every morning because of it. I tried other hacks like drinking apple cider vinegar to help, but it didn’t. I didn’t realize it was the dairy until I stopped consuming it and realized what a normal morning routine sans-coughing was like.
Every now and then, something would be splurge-worthy, as anything, and usually those splurges included dairy. Pizza, ice cream, whatever the particular treat was, after having dairy for the first time in a long time my stomach got incredibly upset. It’s not as bad as it once was, but my body definitely hates me a little bit when I have it.
So yeah, me + learning almond cheese existed = me beating my chest as if I could now conquer life.
I tried the Whole Foods brand, but my local one here in Charleston didn’t have a shredded option, only solid blocks of a “cheddar” and “mozzarella” version. (I think the only difference was the color of the “cheese.”) I use this brand when I want to make a chicken “parm” – OMG it’s delicious. Here’s what this one looks like:
But shredded cheese would actually be a ton easier to work with for this recipe, too. So lo and behold, one day just a couple of weeks ago, as I was hurriedly perusing Trader Joe’s, their own version of shredded almond cheese caught my eye.
Now right off of the bat, there is something incredibly important to notice – this cheese is NOT 100% dairy-free. It is 99% dairy free and uses 1% of milk protein casein.
Now, for practicing vegans, this cheese would not be considered totally compliant. So, total bummer there, however for me, 99% dairy-free does not mean it’s an issue for me. After testing it, I feel my tummy is a-ok and I do not get the mucus reaction as with regular cheese – it’s definitely great for me.
As another plus, the tiny amount of milk protein seems to make it even more melting compatible than other almond cheeses. I’ve used this in tacos, omelets, other things that are benefitted by the melty consistency.
Finally, what you’re all wondering about is probably how it tastes. If this is your first time trying a dairy-alternative, it’s hard to level set expectations. It is not real cheese. You can’t just grab a handful and think your tastebuds will be tickled and the fatty salty craving you were having will be satisfied. But this is definitely in my opinion one of the best non-dairy cheeses on the market. I’ve had a few cream-cheese style ones that I like more, but this tackles a lot of my cooking replacement needs. I think just a little extra salt and seasonings when using it for cooking and you can’t tell the difference from the real thing!
This is topping off a French Onion Soup.