Daiya Cheese Review

Over the many years that my family has had dairy allergies and intolerances, we have looked at many dairy free cheeses. It is always shocking to me that the vast majority of dairy free cheese (nut, rice, and soy based) has casein which is milk protein. That makes no sense to me at all. What is even the point of making the cheese to begin with? The only people that would eat that kind of cheese, in my mind anyways, are those that are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerant people can take a lactaid type pill (I did for many years before I couldn’t eat dairy at all) and eat traditional cheese without issue. If I could eat traditional cheese, I would eat it everyday in many styles. I certainly wouldn’t eat dairy free cheese just for the fun of it. Would any of you? Seriously, if you would, I would love to hear your reasons. 🙂 No judging here, I am just curious.

My husband was the first to go dairy free in our family before we had kids. Back then, I didn’t realize that I needed to read the label of a cheese that said “dairy free”. I figured it would be dairy free! For many years he ate soy cheese, it was the best we could find at the time. The soy cheese was a bit rubbery, didn’t really melt, and browned when cooked. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?! He continued to have symptoms of eating dairy, so I started reading labels more carefully. At this point, we realized he couldn’t eat the soy cheese so he was out of cheese options for quite some time.

I can’t remember how long my husband had gone without cheese, but it had probably been more than a year. We went to a local pizza restaurant that carried a vegan/dairy free cheese. Both of us tried the cheese on a melted sub sandwich and were amazed at how good the cheese was. We liked it so much that I asked the waitress what kind of cheese it was. It was Daiya mozzarella style cheese. I went home and googled where I could pick some of this cheese up and found it at a store I frequent near my house. We began to eat quite a bit of the mozzarella shreds though used it sparingly. The taste of the mozzarella shreds is VERY pungent, nothing like true mozzarella cheese. If you aren’t careful, the pungent flavor will completely take over whatever you are using it with. When we used it on pizza, I used maybe 1/2 cup for a whole pizza. Daiya’s cream cheese has this same pungent flavor so we avoid it altogether. In all honesty, for us it ruins a good bagel or anything else you would mix it with. The mozzarella shreds I have found is best in grilled sandwiches with other bold flavors like a meatball sandwich, a pesto veggie sandwich, a french dip, etc. Other than that, I don’t use the mozzarella shreds at all.

A few years back, the cheddar style shreds (affiliate link) appeared on the shelves so I figured I would give it try. This is by FAR the best dairy free/vegan cheese for all intensive purposes. The flavor is very mild so it works nicely on pizza, mac and cheese, grilled cheese, etc. It actually melts which is amazing if you’ve tried other dairy free cheese. I just started buying this by the case from my local grocery store so I can get a discount. It freezes for up to 3 months. Now, if you have had traditional cheese, you need to go into this knowing it’s not real cheese. I don’t think there is anything dairy free out there that would look, smell, taste, melt, and have the same texture as traditional cheese. If you can go in with that in mind, I think you will agree with me. My family loves this cheese on anything. 🙂

My husband really loves cheese, crackers, and salami with a glass of wine. The cheddar style cheese isn’t a great fit for this purpose. Over Christmas I decided to give the Daiya Pepperjack style block cheese a chance for my husbands gift. My husband is very particular about food, he’s my best food critic. He absolutely loved this cheese! It paired very well with the other bold flavors of salami and wine. Since I haven’t tried it myself, I can’t give you any other insight than that. From the smell of it, it is also more of a pungent cheese so I would use it paired with other bold flavors as well.

Altogether, Daiya cheese has changed our food allergy life for the better. It is so nice to have an amazing alternative that truly is dairy free.

Dairy Free Cheese Crackers

As a little girl I remember eating so many cheese it crackers! They were so good and such a big part of my childhood. I have so many memories that go along with eating these crackers. Vacations, soccer practice, snacks after school, time with friends, road trips, and camping are definitely places that cheese it crackers were eaten. Who doesn’t love cheese and crackers? Why not put them together. My poor parents probably bought several boxes a week to feed all four of us and all of our friends as well.

Since my girls have food allergies and intolerances, snacks are so hard to come by for them, especially crackers. The snacks either cost a fortune or don’t fit our restrictions. We do love rice crackers, but they often come in packs at Costco with cheese flavored rice crackers as well. That’s a big waste of money for my family since we can’t eat the cheese ones. Other than that, I really haven’t found any crackers that my family can safely eat. That’s a huge bummer since crackers are so easy to grab on the go.

Like most other recipes I have come up with, the lack of crackers for my family drove me to make one for us. I have searched high and low to find a good cracker recipe for my girls and I have found a few good recipes. This allergy friendly cheese cracker recipe is one of my girls all time favorite snacks. It took me a few times making the recipe to get it just right, but we got there. They eat as many of these as I did of the boxed kind growing up. I would say these are even better than the boxed kind and I know everything that goes into them as well. Just this week my girls requested these again.

These crackers pack really well for lunches, snacks, and outings. My girls love to take these to school for an easy snack. We also take several batches of these when we go camping. Kids and adults both enjoy these crackers. I know you will too!

Dairy Free Cheese Crackers

Ingredients
2/3 C Sorghum flour
2/3 C White rice flour
2/3 C Tapioca starch
1 t Guar gum
1 t Salt
½ t Garlic or Onion powder
1 t Cream of tartar
½ t Baking soda
1 C Daiya cheddar cheese
½ C Soy free earth balance buttery spread, cold
7 T Ice cold water

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° Prepare a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Mix all dry ingredients together in a food processor until well combined. Next add the cheese and process until well combined. Then cut butter into small chinks and add to the food processor and mix well. Lastly, add cold water and process until well combined and the dough comes together easily.. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Take the dough out and split in half. With each half, roll out between two pieces of parchment paper to about 1/8 inch thick. Once rolled out evenly peel top layer of parchment paper off and place dough with bottom parchment paper onto a large baking sheet. Using a pizza cutter, cut into desired shapes and sizes. You could also use small cookie cutters and make fun shapes like fish, flowers, hearts, etc.

Bake on 350° for 14-16 minutes, then check to see if the crackers are crisp to the touch. When the crackers are crisp to the touch, take each cracker out one at a time and place on a cooling rack. Be sure they aren’t too crisp as they will crisp up as the cool. Continue to bake at 5 minute increments until all crackers are done. Once all crackers are done and fully cool, store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Oat Tortillas

I wrote about my love for oats a week or two ago and had someone request the recipe for the oat tortillas. This has to be one of the simplest recipes that I make. Hopefully you find it just as simple and delicious as I do. I will say that having a tortilla press makes my life SO much easier since I make somewhere between 60-80 tortillas a month. Here is the tortilla press I have. Next week I will do a review on the one I have, as there are many to choose from.

Oat Tortillas

Ingredients
2 ½ C Gluten Free Oat flour
1 C Warm water
½ t Salt

Directions
If you have a tortilla press, which I highly recommend, plug it in and let it warm up on medium heat. If you do not have a tortilla press, prepare a small frying pan on your stove with olive oil in the bottom. Also get out two pieces of parchment paper and prepare them with non-stick spray.

To make your own oat flour, simply take your regular gluten free oats and blend them in a high powered blender until it becomes flour. In a medium sized bowl add the oat flour and salt mixing well to combine. Then add the water and mix thoroughly together until you have a very thick paste like consistency. The mix shouldn’t be drippy or too heavy and thick. Watch the video above, to see the correct consistency. If the mix comes out too watery, simply add more oat flour. If the mix comes out too dry, simply add more water a tablespoon at a time. This mix will get thicker as it sits. For those of you that do not have a tortilla press, you need your mix to be on the thick side or you will have a difficult time getting it off the parchment paper. If it takes you a long time to make all of the tortillas and the mix is too dry at the end, just add more water, a tablespoon at a time. It’s hard to go wrong here, I promise!

If you have a tortilla press, simply prepare it with non-stick spray, then drop a medium sized cookie scoop of the mix on to the middle, press and wait about 10-15 seconds. Take it out with a spatula and let it cool on a plate. Repeat that step until your mix is gone.

If you don’t have a tortilla press, turn your stove onto medium heat and warm up your pan with oil in it. While the pan in warming, drop a medium sized cookie scoop onto your greased parchment paper and cover it with the second piece. Either with your hand or a rolling pin, flatten out your tortilla ball until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Gently pull off the top layer and parchment paper and flip the tortilla into the warm frying pan and peel off the now top layer of parchment paper. Fry for 10 seconds and flip to fry for another 5 seconds. When the tortillas are done, place them on a plate lined with paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Repeat that step until your mix is gone. Enjoy warm or freeze them in a big pile once they have cooled.

A few days ago on Instagram, I posted a picture of the guacamole and the oat chips you see below. Someone told me that I had been holding out on you all about oat chips. I laughed and then figured I would throw that recipe up with the tortillas since you can’t make the chips without the tortillas. Perfect timing that Super Bowl Sunday is in tomorrow. It’s always fun to bring a new, simple, yet fabulous dish. So go ahead and make the tortillas and the chips. They will be a crowd pleaser for sure!! Of course, guacamole is a definite MUST! Press on friends, press on, the tortillas are worth it. 🙂

Why I love oats

About three years ago, I had just completed 90 days on the Whole30, with the exception of only being able to eat 2 fruits. I did this for health reasons, and it worked for me. After the 90 days was up, I had lost quite a bit of weight and needed to be able to add more foods into my diet, but my gut wasn’t very happy with very many foods. The one food that I was able to add to my diet was oats. At first this felt disappointing since I didn’t like oatmeal for breakfast and cookies were off limits for me. I have learned though that when I am in a bind of some sort, I am fiercely determined to not let it get the best of me. So I made up my mind that I was going to learn to love oats.

It took me several months to find recipes that I liked, that fit my specific dietary restrictions, and ones that wouldn’t take forever to make. This began my journey of all things oats, and I do mean all things. I have tried almost everything possible with oats and found that they are an amazing food for lots of reasons. Now I absolutely LOVE oats and eat them multiple times a day. Since it is the only grain I have been able to eat for years now, it has become my best food friend. Here are the reasons that I love oats so much.

1. Oats don’t have a ton of flavor. While this might sound boring, it really is amazing. Because it is pretty bland in flavor, it really can go with most foods really easily.

2. Oats are very forgiving. When cooking/baking with oats if you added too much liquid, no worries just add a bit more oats. If your oats are a bit dry, just add more liquid until it is the right consistency. I actually rarely measure when I am making items with oats because I know that I can easily add more oats or liquid depending on what I need. This is a huge bonus for me.

3. When oats are met with liquid, they stick together. I can’t eat any gums (guar, xanthan, etc.) so this too is a huge win for me.

4. Oats are very simple to work with and recipes come out very quickly when I use oats. One flour, no gums, or any other ingredients. Win all around.

5. Oats have a lot of health benefits as well which is great. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration claims that oats, as part of an overall heart healthy diet, could lower the risk of heart disease.

The possible health benefits of oats include: reducing the risk of coronary artery disease, lowering levels of cholesterol, and reducing one’s risk of colorectal cancer. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270680.php

I bet you are wondering what I have actually made successfully with just oats. Here is a list, though not likely exhaustive, but my main staples with a few pictures.

Breakfast bars. I have eaten these breakfast bars every morning for the last three years, maybe a handful of times I have skipped these. They are definitely a staple for me.

Oat pancakes. Who doesn’t love a good pancake? Oats make great pancakes!

Oat tortillas. I make these in huge batches and freeze them. I use them for sandwiches, “quesadillas”, buns, chips, etc. These are very versatile and I also eat these in one fashion or another every day.

Pizza crust. I’m not one to cry over missed food. While it can feel discouraging sometimes, I’ve learned to be thankful for what I can eat. When I made this pizza crust, I nearly shed a tear, seriously. It was that good and exploded my mind for the possibilities of what oats could do for me.

Oat Crackers. Everyone needs a simple go to snack, including me. Of course I eat a lot of fruits, veggies, and nuts for snacks, but sometimes I just want a good cracker. I have made these multiple times with multiple different seasonings and they are great to have around.

Oat muffins. I have made all kinds of muffins with just oats, you might be surprised. Again, I love the versatility of oats. Sometimes I add nut or seed butter into my muffin mix which works well too.

Oat cookies. I went for years without having a cookie, or any dessert for that matter. One night I was determined to make myself a chocolate chip cookie without any sugar, without a “gum”, or a rising agent (baking soda, baking powder, etc) because I couldn’t have any of those. My mom and I texted back and forth about how to do this and I was determined to make it happen. What came out was utterly amazing! Who knew?! Next came a pumpkin cookie that was just as fabulous. My world has changed because of oats. If you have food allergies or restrictions, I promise life doesn’t have to be boring in the food department. It just takes more creativity than it once did. It is possible to have food allergies and restrictions and eat amazing food!

Veggie lover or veggie hater?

 

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For all those that love and hate veggies, these sweet potato chips will make you love veggies, or love them more.  These are simple to make, but take a bit more than a wee bit of time.  Once you make them, you will want to eat them often.  My three girls beg for them almost everyday, they are that good, I promise!

Preheat your oven to 400°

Slice your sweet potatoes in thin slices.  You can do this by hand if need be, but a mandolin or food processor are much faster and easier.  If using a food processor, use the thick slicing blade.  I slice a whole gallon ziplock bag of these at one time, they keep really well in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Lay your sliced sweet potatoes on a baking sheet in one layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and salt.  Place the baking sheet in the oven on the middle rack for best results.  Bake for 20 minutes, then flip your chips.  After you flip the chips, bake at 4 minute intervals until all of the chips are done.  They will all be done at different times as they aren’t all the same size.  When they are done, they are a nice golden color and a bit crispy.  They are over done if they are dark brown or under done if they are still floppy.  The goal is to have these be more dried than cooked per se.  Enjoy!