Sunday, February 3, 2008

My New Dairy-Free Pantry

We went to Whole Foods/ Paycheck to get our vegan staples, and I saw some parents staring into the dairy case. I had been there so recently myself. The world of food allergies and sensitivities was a new rabbit-hole for us intrepid omnivores. Vegetarianism was not new at all, and something many friends and family have subscribed to for generations. While the Internet is a veritable land of allergy information, it is hard to know what is right and what to do. So, I couldn’t help but tell them about our findings—the better cheese, the better fake meat, the problems with some soy yogurt. And, here is what I said…

I basically shop at Heinen’s. I have a strong love for my locally-owned grocery store. They have a number of parve items; and they are receptive to the needs of their community. They will order items and see if there is a market for them. I buy my tofu there. I vacillate between Cleveland Tofu and the organic national brand. I like the Cleveland better, but it isn’t organic. I usually buy it every other time.

Then there are the more esoteric ingredients like nutritional yeast. I used to buy that from Wild Oats, because I think the merger between Whole Foods and Wild Oats created a monopoly. Now that they are one, I buy it from Whole Foods—way to be political, eh?

Looking at the vegan recipes, I think there is a divide in that community—those who are attempting to continue their dairy life through substitution and those who have looked for recipes that focus on other ingredients. I would say we eat from both types—vegan mac and cheese and vegan tacos to ramen and kichidi. One of the problems I have with the former though is the processed nature of meat substitutes. So we have decided just as I wouldn’t want Belle to eat baloney everyday, we don’t give her fake meat everyday either. Also, I haven’t tried all of the possible egg-replacers that are available, and instead make recipes that don’t require egg.

I have learned that what I need to have on hand is:
Soy yogurt—Be careful to look for dairy free, because much of the live active cultures used in the States is grown on milk
Soy cheese—We buy SoyKaas brand. I don’t work for them, I swear. But, everyone recommends that brand, so that is the one I buy.
Tofu—I usually have a block of firm and sometimes a block of silken on hand. I sometimes have 1 in the freezer too because it is nice textural difference from fresh.
Margarine—I have never like the flavor of Margarine. I use VERY little in Belle’s cooking, but I have it on hand, to finish foods.
Sugar-free Applesauce—serves as an egg-replacement in some baked goods

What I enjoy having on hand, but don’t necessarily need:
Gimme Lean (beef flavor): While we are not a lover of fake meat, this one doesn’t taste like meat, and so it is very good.
Tempeh & Seitan—For a break from the tofu.
Nutritional yeast—We use this for milk-free mac and cheese.
Tofutti Cream Cheese—Belle loves bread and this adds some extra nutrition. I don’t usually buy it, and instead put hummus or white bean spread on her toast.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

What kind of Soy margarine do you use? We have Soy Garden, and while we also don't generally like margarine either the taste is more butter like than I expected. Also, Zagara's also has vegan supplies - but surprisingly Whole Foods is actually cheaper for vegan supplies. Trader Joe's is also pretty good, but they don't have everything. Nice blog!