Friday, May 16, 2014

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Follow Your Heart

Vegan cheese has come a long way, baby. I remember, back in the day, the store bought kind didn't taste very good. It needed really high temps to melt, too. I gave it a few chances and was disappointed with most of the vegan cheese I tried. Fast forward a few years and new brands and new formulas start hitting the market. I was wary, as you could imagine, but am so glad I finally jumped on the vegan cheese bandwagon.

Dairy cheese is just one of those things that's really hard to give up. Vegan cheese, like dairy cheese, is not the best stuff in the world for you. It is, however, just fine in moderation. And for those individuals transitioning to veganism it may be the one thing that will keep you on the compassionate path until your cheese addiction finally lets you free.

The folks at Follow Your Heart reached out to me a few weeks ago to see if I may be interested in trying their line of vegan cheesy shreds in celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Previously I was only familiar with Daiya and Go Veggie! vegan cheeses. Between the two, I only liked Daiya. But I know of many vegans who prefer Follow Your Heart so I knew it had to be pretty good.

They sent me three bags of shreds to try out; Mozzarella, Cheddar, and Fiesta Blend. And I quickly formulated a plan for trying them each!

First up, nachos.

Using the Follow Your Heart Cheddar Vegan Gourmet Shreds, Chris and I topped our sweet potato tortilla chips with diced red and green pepper, chopped olives, and fresh cilantro. We baked them at 400 degrees, but our chips began burning before all of the cheese thoroughly melted. Chris was okay with half melted cheese, but I microwaved mine for about 20 seconds afterwards and managed to get it to be all stringy and melty by doing that. The flavor was very cheddary. I liked the texture a lot, too. I have heard people complain about Daiya being kind of "slimy" and Follow Your Heart cheeses do not have the same texture. It's firmer and is more cheese like, though not so much with the melting. Not in this instance, anyway.

Next up, quesadillas.

We used Fiesta Blend for these. Amazing! No, really, I loved this dish. We used our leftover chopped peppers and also diced avocado. We lightly oiled our non-stick grill pan and set our quesadillas on top, covered with a lid to help the cheese melt more efficiently. This plan worked great. The quesadillas were gooey and wonderful. Loved, loved, loved them. I am usually not huge on pepper jack cheeses, but this was got two thumbs up from me. Very creamy with just the right amount of spice.

And finally, pizza.

Again, absolute love with this one. We made Mexican pizza, which means the base consisted of medium salsa as opposed to pasta sauce. My family and I used to make pizza like this all the time. I don't talk about it much, but we owned and operated a salsa manufacturing company in New Hampshire for many years. We always had salsa everywhere. We lived, breathed, and ate it constantly. Literally.

Chris and I started by brushing the edges of our homemade pizza crust with olive oil and then sprinkling it with garlic powder. We put down our salsa next. I used about 10 tablespoons. Then added a mix of the Mozzarella and Cheddar shreds. Finally, we topped them with thinly sliced green peppers, chopped red peppers, sliced red onion, chopped olive, and fresh cilantro. I baked mine at 425 for 10 minutes, then turned it up to broil for 1-2 minutes, turned the heat off and let it sit for another 2-3 minutes in the oven. The cheese melted perfectly.

While Chris still seems to prefer the Daiya brand cheeses, I think I am now more partial to Follow Your Heart's offerings. The texture really won me over. If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend that you do.

Locally, I have found Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheesy shreds at Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Wheatsville. Click here to find a store near you. The company also makes vegan versions of mayonnaise, cream cheese, sour cream, and creamy dressings. Also, you can get a coupon for $1 off these shreds by visiting their website here! Just in time for Cinco de Mayo. Now all you need is a margarita!

Thank you, Follow Your Heart, for the samples. I really enjoyed giving your products a try. :-)

Note: Follow Your Heart did not provide me with monetary compensation in exchange for this review. I do not publish posts in exchange for money, ever. They did, however, give me products to sample. My review is unbiased. And my stomach is full of vegan cheese. Thank you for understanding.

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