Some people’s stories of becoming vegetarian or vegan happen later in life. My little sister, Jo, has been a vegetarian for over a decade, but her story starts much earlier in life.
Neither of us liked meat or dairy when we were kids, so cutting these food groups out of our diets when we moved out of home was inevitable. But Jo was a little more strong-willed than I was growing up.
One weekend, our mother had put some steak out to defrost in the shade on our back verandah.
A few hours after Mum had put the steak out, it went missing!
We were living in semi-rural Australia at the time and had recently gotten fences. So it wasn’t a stray animal. After deducing Mum had not imagined putting the meat outside, we wondered if the thief was a kookaburra. A bird had once stolen my father’s hamburger straight out of his hand, so this wasn’t impossible.
Jo cracked. The missing meat was her doing. The thought of eating it for dinner was so abhorrent that she’d hidden it in the dirty clothes basket.
Luckily, our mother had a sense of humour about this incident, and just fished the frozen meat out with a laugh.
Years and years later, Jo’s still a vegetarian. In the past decade I’ve been a pescatarian, a vegetarian, and finally settled on being a vegan, which makes me the happiest (and healthiest with my body and skin allergies/reactions).
One of the things I initially struggled with was cooking without dairy. I wasn’t particularly fond of the stuff on its own, but it was an integral component in so many vegetarian recipes. I’d been dissatisfied with cheese substitutes in Australia and just gave up on them. But when I moved to Canada, I was introduced to Daiya cheese.
For the uninitiated, Daiya cheese is a vegan cheese replacement. Vegan cheese uses no dairy or animal products whatsoever. Vegetarian cheese uses non-animal rennet (yes, some cheeses are not vegetarian friendly and are made with enzymes from baby cow’s tummies). Daiya cheese has no milk, and no animal rennet so is suitable for the lactose intolerant, vegetarians, and vegans.
Here’s a round-up of recipes we’ve posted on North & South Nomads, with a couple of new recipes that feature Daiya. It’s extremely versatile to cook with, and I’m sure there will be many more Daiya posts to come.
Dairy, soy, and gluten free, Daiya is suitbable for many types of dietary requirements and allergies.
And, is my requirement for all meals, it’s freakin’ delicious! If you miss the days of hearty, cheesy bakes because you’re vegetarian or vegan, this will hit the spot.
These nachos are pretty much the best naughty vegan meal ever. I made them one night while North Nomad was out with a friend. He came just as I was finishing up these nachos, hovered over them and said, “Those are the healthiest looking nachos I’ve ever seen.”
True. There’s a lot of salad on them. And home-made salsa and tofu sour cream, so it’s not packed with your yearly requirement for sodium and preservatives. But hey, there’s corn chips! And Daiya cheese! And deliciousness!
I always try to say “inspired” when I make a meal that has ingredients considered traditionally Mexican. Because without rice, refried beans, and a whole bunch of things I don’t eat, it’s not really traditional Mexican.
But it’s tasty, filling, and damn good for you. It’s a protein powerhouse with the quinoa and black bean combo, packed with vitamins with the salad, and the tofu mayo and salsa just make it so yummy.
The purple yams make this dish unusual looking, but trust me on this one. It’s pretty, good for you, and appetizing.
This recipe isn’t gluten free unless you make your own lasagne sheets or go to a health food/organic store and seek out GF lasagne sheets.
- Traditional mac n cheese – new recipe
I hadn’t heard of mac ‘n’ cheese until I started dating North Nomad, a true Canadian. What was this concoction? On seeing North Nomad make mac ‘n’ cheese, I realised he was making a Kraft packet meal version of a really simple dish my mother used to make my sister and I when we were younger – packet pasta, with shredded cheese. It’s a favourite with young kids (and a lot of adults) across the world, with plenty of variations.
For a vegan version, grab a packet of your favourite pasta, a packet of your favourite shredded Daiya cheese, and some Earth Balance butter (if you’re in North America. In Australia/NZ, use Nuttlelex). Boil your pasta on medium-high heat until it’s nicely soft to touch (I do NOT like pasta that is too hard, I prefer it close to falling apart). When it’s at your desired consistency, drain your pasta, and throw it back into your pot. Coat it in a tablespoon of Earth Balance butter, and a good few handfuls of shredded Daiya cheese. Stir it all together until the cheese is melted and nicely incorporated. Yum!
- Flat-Bread vegan pizza – new recipe
I had no idea how easy it was to DIY delicious and healthy home-made pizza until my high school bestie Kat got me onto it. She and her partner Nathan made some pretty fancy looking pizzas with meaty delicacies, and I had to have my own vegan Daiya cheese version.
Grab some tortillas or pita wraps from the grocery store. On this occasion I had whole-wheat tortillas in the cupboard, so I used these. Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahreneheit, and prep your pizza. You can use store bought pasta sauce, but I had some crushed tomatoes leftover and made my own tomato sauce for this pizza (recipe at the end of this section). Tortillas are kind of thin, so I layered three, and smothered it with a good helping of this sauce. I sprinkled the pizza with a handful of Daiya cheese. And then found whatever I had in my fridge: broccoli florettes, red onion, and roma tomatoes, chopped and diced them, and threw it on the pizza. You cook it for 20 minutes or so, and voila! Delicious, healthy pizza!
Pasta Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 tbsp of Earth Balance butter (or any other good nut or olive oil butter)
- 1 can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- ¼ cup of chopped white onion
- 1/8 tsp of salt and 1/8 tsp of cracked black pepper
- 1/8 tsp of sugar
- 1/8 tsp of dried oregano
- 1 tbsp of freshly chopped basil (or 1/3 tbsp of dried basil, if you don’t have any fresh basil to hand. Dried herbs pack more of a punch than fresh ones, so you need to be careful with using much less)
- ½ tbsp. of olive oil
- Grilled Cheese — new recipe
An American and Canadian favourite! The first time someone asked me in Canada if I wanted “Grilled cheese” I thought they meant haloumi, when they were really offering me a pan-fried cheese sandwich. In Australia, we don’t fry our cheese sandwiches, we put them in breville toasted sandwich makers and call them “toasted cheese sandwiches” (funnily enough), or toasties to some people, or Brevilles to the British.
A standard comfort food by varying names across the western world, it was something I started eating again when I discovered Daiya cheese. I get two pieces of good quality freshly baked bread, spread Earth Balance butter or my home-made, tofu-based mayonnaise on them, wack on a couple of slices of Daiya cheese, a handful of baby spinach or rocket, a few slices of roma tomatoes, and put them under the George Foreman grill for five minutes, turning at the half way point. Vegans can have their comfort food, too!
And the fantastic news of late that I heard straight from the horse’s mouth on twitter is that Daiya has recently hit the shelves in Australia. I was truly pleased with this development, and hope it makes it’s way across the pond to New Zealand.
If you’re a veggie or a vegan, or have a lactose allergy, do you use Daiya or another cheese replacement? What’s your favourite recipe?