Thursday, January 5, 2017

Dairy Free Cheese That Rawks

"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying Nacho Cheese cashew nut milk cheese"
"...You're eating nacho cheese milk?"
"No, I said nacho cheese nut milk cheese"
"..You're drinking nacho cheese milk?"
"No, mom' (rolling eyes) " I am eating a dairy free cheese made from nut milk.
"Dairy free cheese milk?"
(Holding my breath, rolling eyes again) "No, it's a cheese made from cashew that is dairy free and it's Nacho Cheese flavored."
"....I don't...OOOOOHHHHH. Dairy free cheese."
"Yes mom, dairy free cheese.: (banging head on the wall)


Has this happened to you?

Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and I know, deep down, as much as I hate to admit it one day I will probably have a similar conversation with my kids. And they will make fun of me (but hopefully not blog about it). Either way, this conversation made me chuckle and when I brought some Punk Rawk Labs Nacho Cheese to her to try, she was as impressed as I was. In my search for a dairy free cheese that will be acceptable to my picky palate, I was introduced to Punk Rawk Lab a few weeks ago. Much to my luck and wanting to revamp my diet, Punk Rawk Labs products are made from cashew (so dairy free and a good protein). 

So what are these little guys all about? Well, opposite of what my mother kept thinking they were, they are cheeses made from cashew nut milk and just a few more ingredients. And by a few, I mean like a small handful and you can easily pronounce all of them (because they are all healthy, simple ingredients). Before I go into the flavors and what I found, can we just talk about the adorable packaging? I am big into simplicity and eco-friendly cartons so of course the little individual boxes caught my eye immediately. Each cheese comes in it's own 2x3 cardboard box. It's like a special delivery sent just for you. Only that small 4.25 oz box of cheese is super filling. Don't get me wrong- I think anyone opening up a small box would tend to say "That's it?" but in this case especially, a little goes a very long way.

Original
Original Why not begin with the Original? I admit, I was a bit hesitant trying these. As I mentioned, I have tried other dairy free cheeses and I never seem to find one that is just right. (Most) dairy free cheeses contain ingredients that I try to avoid such as yeast and even casein (casein, uhhhhh, it's a milk protein and it kind of defeats the purpose of a dairy free cheese). So I started with Punk Rawk Lab's Original flavor. For each flavor, I noted the same questions for what I felt was important (to me) that makes a good dairy free cheese:

Smell The Original had very little smell
Taste The Original doesn't have a strong taste, it just tastes like your typical spreadable cheese
Punk Rawk Labs Original flavor contains cultured cashew milk (organic cashews, water, probiotic,salt). 

Nacho
Nacho (You know, the one that caused the whole beginning fiasco) I was excited and hopeful about this flavor. Imagine a dairy free Nacho cheese that you could use on so many different food items and without the guilt of "Oh my, how much cheese did I eat?!" 
Smell The Nacho smells exactly like a nacho cheese anything (score!)
Taste Almost like a cross between nacho and pepperjack. VERY tasty with a tiny kick of spice.
Punk Rawk Labs Nacho flavor contains cultured cashew milk (cashews, water, probiotic,salt), carrot, lemon, pickled chili pepper, green onion and sunflower lecithin.

Herb Ok, first of all , let's just get the pronunciation straight (as I have a pet peeve with people who say it wrong). It's pronounced "ERB" and not "HERB" it's a cheese, not a guy that you know from down the street. The only exception is if you are from the UK as they say "HERB" and I totally excuse that.

Herb

Smell The Herb has just a very faint,subtle smell of, well, herbs (surprise!) but I like products that live up to their name
Taste The Herb had a very mild, pleasant taste and you get just a hint of thyme and rosemary
Punk Rawk Labs Herb flavor contains cultured cashew milk (cashews, water, probiotic,salt), sage, rosemary and thyme.

Smoked
Smoked (As in the flavor and not what I did with it) This variety was covered with salt & pepper and almost looked too pretty to eat. The great thing is that the outer "rind" gives the person eating it the option to have a simple smokey taste or a smokey taste with a little bit of spice to make your mouth go "I'm awake".

Smell Just a small amount of smokiness
Taste A mild, smooth cheese with a hint of smokiness (unless you eat the outer rind then it's a tad spicy).
Punk Rawk Labs Smoked flavor contains cultured cashew milk (organic cashews, water, probiotic,salt), black pepper and smoked sea salt.

ALL of the Punk Rawk Lab cashew nut milk cheese had good texture, were not gritty or chunky (in a bad way) and were just soft without crumbling.

Baking, Heating and Some Real Life Pictures After I took the beautiful pictures above (because I do believe in trying to showcase the products that I review) I decided that I needed to test out a few things that many of us would want to know in every day life. This means also sharing true to life photos, which are not so pretty. Once we were done noshing on all of the delicious Punk Rawk Labs cheeses, I realized that I didn't know if it would survive cooking. Especially with cheese, this is crucial. If you find a good cheese that doesn't survive other aspects of your cooking habits, it can be upsetting. 

Prepare yourself for the following photos. These are real photos taken in a real home. No cashew milk was harmed in the making of these photos.
  • The first test- baking. I spread some Nacho flavor onto a piece of gluten free bread and stuck it in the toaster oven. Did it bake up ok? Well, yes and no. If you are looking for Punk Rawk Labs to be an ooey gooey baked cheese kind of thing, it won't be. BUT it did not get greasy, oily, separate or look ..well, gross. Although it didn't melt, the cheese stayed in it's similar form and tasted just as good. 

  • The second test- cooking. I wanted to see if I could melt Punk Rawk Labs cashew milk cheese in a pot on the stove top. Did it melt? No. It resembled something similar to mashed potatoes BUT (again) it did not get greasy, separate and the flavor remained the same. Ultimately, in my eyes, this is still a winner. Who says grilled cheese has to be ooey gooey? If it's a safe food, if it's not doing all of the wrong things and it's tasting all the right ways then it's a keeper. 
My Thoughts? I LOVE this cheese!!! My daughter LOVES this cheese! My mother (yeah, you remember her) LOVES this cheese!!! Not only do I love the taste and texture but I love that Punk Rawk Labs uses just a few ingredients (none of which are yeast!) which is a big problem when I am looking for dairy free cheeses to recommend to the people that I consult with. This will definitely be a kitchen must from now on for us. 

A sincere thank you to Punk Rawk Labs for asking us to try their products out. My only hope is that I begin to see their products begin to appear in our local stores for the times that I just need to have their cheese right away. You can find them on the web, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, YouTube and on their GoFundMe page.



As always, everyone's allergens are different. Please contact Punk Rawk Labs directly for questions regarding their products and their processing. 


Never any compensation except for the products themselves as all of my reviews are always honest.






12 comments:

  1. Yes, I loved the quality and flavors of this one!

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  2. You know what's crazy.... this is a local cheese company and I've never tried it! I know right. It's only at a few co-ops and places and almost every time I go they are out, or I forget to look the next time because they are always out. I really need to track some down now to try.

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    1. Yes, you must!!! You're lucky that the are local- I can't get any at a store here :(

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    2. we JUST got picked up by a distributor in LA. Coming soon to a store near you!

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    3. YES!!!! PLEASE come to NC- I keep telling my clients that I speak with for food allergy consultations about how awesome your products are!!

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  3. I've added this cheese to my website, but never trialed it. So good to know it's a tasty one!

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  4. This sounds great. I am nursing my son with a dairy allergy. I'd love to try this.

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  5. It's so cool to see the products that are available for the dairy free community. They all sound like great flavours.

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