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Battle of the Vegan Cream Cheeses

January 29, 2019

 

 

 

I sampled all sorts of non-dairy, vegan cream cheese alternatives to let you know which is the winner! I’ve been non-dairy most of my life for health reasons, but a good bagel with cream cheese is this Jewish New York girl’s dream. I remember the days when the only option was Tofutti, but times have changed, and now the refrigerated section at the supermarket is teeming with various delicious, dairy-free options!

 

Here’s what I tried, what I thought, and what I recommend:

 

1. Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. A classic, this cream cheese has been around for a long time. I opted for the “non-hydrogenated” option in the yellow tub.
Appearance: White. Solid. It looks the most like real cream cheese of any of the bunch.

Texture: Extremely smooth, creamy, thick, a lot like Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Somewhat dense and hard to spread.

Flavor: I used to like this cream cheese back in the day, but now I find it too sweet. Since sugar is one of the ingredients, this doesn’t surprise me. It also tastes a bit bland and processed, and not like anything real really went into it.

Ingredients: Water, expeller processed natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit and olive), maltodextrin, soy protein, tofu, non-dairy lactic acid, organic sugar, blend of natural gums (locust bean, guar, cellulose, xanthan and carrageenan), vegan mono and diglycerides, salt. Not great, a lot of gums and oils, processed food and sugar. No actual cultures.

Nutrition: 60 calories, 5 g fat (2 g saturated), 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein

Rating: 5/10

 

2. Miyoko’s Creamery: Unlox Your Dreams. OK, I LOVE Miyoko’s vegan butter, my husband likes it BETTER than actual butter, so I had high hopes for this cream cheese. What I failed to realize before I bought it was that it was SALMON FLAVOR (somehow I missed the clever play on words). Oh boy. That’s not something I want in regular cream cheese, let alone a vegan “salmon” flavor. And I was right. This is really not something I would ever willingly choose to eat again.

Appearance: Yellow/gray in color with flecks of dark brown/green (seaweed).

Texture: Smooth, spreadable, somewhat grainy, but not bad.

Flavor: Fishy and lemony, coconutty, slightly sweet, really, really strange and not something I want on my bagel. Admittedly, I have not tried the plain or scallion flavor of this cream cheese and they may be more palatable. If you are vegan are REALLY loved fish, maybe this is for you?

Ingredients: Organic Cashews, Filtered Water, Organic Coconut Cream, Sea Salt, Organic Seaweed, Vegetable Juice For Color, Spices, Cultures.

The ingredients are GREAT. Really clean and awesome. I just wish it tasted better and less like fish and coconut. Maybe I should give the plain or scallion flavors a try?

Nutrition: 90 calories, 7 g fat (2 g saturated), 4 g carbohydrates 3 g protein

Rating: 3/10 (I want to give this a 10/10 for the ingredients, though!!!).

 

3. Kite Hill Chive Cream Cheese Style Spread. Kite Hill does some lovely things with almond milk, including a ricotta that is to die for! I had tried their plain cream cheese and was underwhelmed (I added my own garden chives to up the interest factor!), but their chive version is REALLY delicious (it’s too darn cold and my chives are dead).

Appearance: Off white flecked with green chives. More of a spread than a cream cheese.

Texture: Thinner and grainier than most cream cheese, I’m starting to understand why they named the product the way they did. It’s almost closer to hummus than cream cheese, but still, it spreads really easily.

Flavor: Totally delicious once you get past the grainy texture. The chives are a really nice addition to spice up any bagel. I really love it on pumpernickel! For sweeter bagels like cinnamon raisin or raisin fennel, I would go with the plain flavor, which is more versatile.

Ingredients: Almond milk (water, almonds), salt, chives, enzyme, xanthan gum, guar gum, white pepper, lactic acid, cultures. So, I don’t love the thickeners, but other than that, the ingredients are very good.

Nutrition: 70 calories, 7 g fat (0 g saturated), 1 g carbohydrates, 2 g protein.

Rating: 8/10

 

4. Trader Joe’s Plain Classic Cream Cheese Alternative. This one actually looks and tastes remarkably like cream cheese. Somewhere in between the ultra smooth Tofutti and the gritty Kite Hill lies this beast…and my 5-yr-old now prefers this over all other brands!

Appearance: Off white, smooth, looks a lot like cream cheese.

Texture: Quite good, resembles cream cheese, a bit rubbery at times.

Flavor: Subtle, not much flavor, but decent. Inoffensive.

Ingredients: Filtered water, coconut oil, mid-oleic sunflower oil, soy protein concentrate, cornstarch, sea salt, tricalcium phosphate, natural flavors, xanthan gum, locust bean gum, guar gum, vegan culture, lactic acid (non-dairy). So, the ingredients are similar to Tofutti, lots of oils, thickeners, soy protein, “natural flavors” which is a catch-all for oy, I don’t know what.

Nutrition: 90 calories, 9 g fat (4.5 g saturated fat), 1 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein.

Rating: 6/10 (I did make a cream cheese frosting with this and it was FABULOUS, so that bumped up the rating as well).

 

I’ve also tried Daiya (really terrible flavor and aftertaste, nothing like cream cheese), Follow Your Heart (similarly disappointing), and probably any other vegan cream cheese out there. I’m still looking for perfection. I’ll stick with Kite Hill for now, because it’s not bad, but not really cream-cheesy enough. I’m also going to give the other Miyoko’s flavors a try, because I love the brand and they had by far the best ingredients! I’m also weaning my kiddo of Tofutti and TJ’s as they are little more than edible oil products with processed thickeners. Oh, the sadness…I have never seen the Violife cream cheese yet on the shelves here, but will keep my eyes peeled, because their vegan cheese is quite delicious!

 

What’s your favorite vegan cream cheese?

 

 

 

 

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