Is soy cheese bad?
May 11, 2010 9:09 PM   Subscribe

What's a healthy substitute for cheese?

A child is unable to eat cheese because it causes acute constipation. However, he LOVES cheese. Until recently, he was eating soy cheese, but then his mom realized it has partially hydrogenated soy bean oil. She assumes that this is bad, since partially hydrogenated oil is bad. Is there a good substitute? Or is she wrong about soy cheese being bad?

Soy cheese was helpful, because the child likes it in sandwiches, sauces and so on. The family has come up with cheats, such as nuts, to use in sauces and pizzas. But the child very much would like to eat cheese on crackers, sandwiches, burgers and so on.

Any suggestions? (Yes, I read the mac and cheese thread. The family has a cheat using quinoa and "cheese".)
posted by acoutu to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
In some cases (crackers, sandwiches, burgers) you can try to substitute avocado, or even hummus. Avocado, imo, tastes infinitely better with salt & lime juice.
posted by mattbucher at 9:15 PM on May 11, 2010

What about hard boiled eggs? Doesn't really taste the same (I'm not sure if this is specifically what you're asking for), but it's something with a similar texture. And very delicious.
posted by rossination at 9:27 PM on May 11, 2010

There is such a thing as almond based cheese. This brand isn't vegan but it should do the trick for this case.

There are lots of ways to make cheese out of tree nuts as well (recipes all over the web) - you can also buy pre-prepared tree nut cheese from Dr. Cow but it's not going to have that melty 'junk food' cheese texture or taste, for that the almond is better.

The best non-dairy cheeses are usually soy based, and if they do go this route, try Teese, it's pretty amazing.
posted by jardinier at 9:38 PM on May 11, 2010

Daiya cheese is amazing!! It's free of Soy, Dairy (Casein or Lactose) Gluten, Egg, Wheat, Barley, Whey, and Nuts...and it melts!
posted by cm young at 9:50 PM on May 11, 2010 [5 favorites]

Nutritional yeast is a delicious substitute for grated parmesan cheese. Especially good if you get the kind that's fortified with B vitamins (some is, some isn't). I've been regularly sprinkling it on my pasta, and sometimes I just go ahead and eat spoonfuls of it plain.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:52 PM on May 11, 2010

My nutritionist told me that it is not the cheese that causes constipation, but what is eaten with the cheese. Cheese in itself does not cause constipation. Lack of fiber and liquid are the major causes. Instead of removing cheese, perhaps the parents should add fiber and more fluids. Also, crackers and bread will cause constipation. I know if you search Google for "cheese constipation" you get a bunch of hits, but they are questionable. I have had intestinal surgery and constipation is one of the problems I need to watch out for, so this is something I have dealt with extensively.
posted by fifilaru at 9:55 PM on May 11, 2010

Seconding Daiya. It's amazing... I just had some on my salad, actually.
posted by MiaWallace at 10:02 PM on May 11, 2010

What's the medical reason why the kid can't have cheese? I ask because if the problem is lactose intolerance, he might be able to tolerate a hard cheese like parmesan, which contains hardly any lactose. If he has an allergy to cow's milk, he may be okay with sheep or goat cheese.

The parents should ask the child's doctor which ingredient of cheese is actually making him sick, and look for ways to avoid that ingredient without cutting out the whole food group. Not just because the kid likes cheese, but also because it'll be an important source of calcium as he grows.

If cheese is definitely not an option, home-made hollandaise sauce is a pretty good substitute for cheese sauce. You could replace the butter with non-dairy spread.
posted by embrangled at 10:22 PM on May 11, 2010


Seconding Avocado also.
posted by sourwookie at 10:35 PM on May 11, 2010

Try Hummus... when i was trying to eat less dairy, I found that hummus was a great substitute for cheese (and mayo) on sandwiches and crackers. It is perfect for spreading and dipping. It comes in many different flavors. And it is good for you!
posted by senorpuma at 10:43 PM on May 11, 2010

What about a homemade yogurt cheese?
posted by metahawk at 10:54 PM on May 11, 2010

Response by poster: The kid is being followed by a pediatrician. They haven't figured out what causes constipation yet, but have been told to avoid dairy.

He really, really likes cheese and wants it to look like the cheese his sibling eats. He really only wants cheese - he has lots of other things in his diet, but it's very upsetting for him to have cheeseless crackers, sandwiches and burgers, etc.

Is Daiya available in Canada (Vancouver)?
posted by acoutu at 11:12 PM on May 11, 2010

Thirding Daiya! It is awesome.

And yes, Daiya is available in Canada. Using their website, I think the closest place to Vancouver it can be bought is New Westminster:

New Westminster
Karmavore Vegan Shop
468 Columbia St East
New Westminster, BC
V3L 3X5

Also, you could always buy it online.
posted by srrh at 11:25 PM on May 11, 2010

i think miso tastes a bit like cheese
posted by compound eye at 12:48 AM on May 12, 2010

I don't know how old the child is, but if he's on the younger end and not of the sort to view avocado or hummus as a cheese alternative, I'd suggest trying something like a slice of turkey, ham, salami, or bologna on crackers or burgers or simply eating out of hand, as kids are wont to do with cheese.

Obviously, this won't work if you're trying to top off something that's a lunchmeat sandwich to begin with, but perhaps they can save the expensive, hard-to-find vegan cheese substitute for such situations, and get him to accept some more readily-available savory/salty, sliceable/tearable/chunkable alternatives for the rest of the time.
posted by drlith at 4:40 AM on May 12, 2010

Soy is terrible for males, so there's another reason to stay away from soy cheese.
posted by unixrat at 5:28 AM on May 12, 2010

Soy is terrible for males, so there's another reason to stay away from soy cheese.

Why is that?
posted by cozenedindigo at 6:20 AM on May 12, 2010

Has he been told to stay away from all dairy, or just cow dairy? There are some nice sheep and goat cheeses out there - some are mild enough that child might like them.
posted by insectosaurus at 7:03 AM on May 12, 2010

"Soy is terrible for males, so there's another reason to stay away from soy cheese.

Why is that?"

There are a lot of people who believe that soy has "estrogenic" properties such that eating regular amounts of soy products will "feminize" boys and cause early onset menopause (and also screw up development in women. However, there are many studies that have been done about this. I have not done exhaustive reading on this topic, but from what I've seen, studies like this one either no negative effects or that you'd have to eat something like your weight in soy products every day for something to happen.

This soy cheese is made w/o partially hydrogenated oil. It does have regular oil though. Perhaps you can find a place to buy it online, perhaps here.
posted by reddot at 7:13 AM on May 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Even though I've recommended Teese and am nthing Daiya to meet the kids request - there is a pretty good case to be made that these aren't 'food' and are pretty awful for you. That said, eating them rarely to fill the cheese craving is fine - they shouldn't become a part of a kids regular diet with the belief that they're taking the nutritional place of cheese. (I'm not making claims about cheese being necessary for the diet either, I'm vegan)
posted by jardinier at 9:31 AM on May 12, 2010

This is another good "mix in" option. My BFF: Nutritional Yeast! Its a flaky powder that tastes nutty and reminiscent of cheese. Its also packed with B-12. It would not be too tasty to just place on a sandwich, but its wonderful when mixed into sauces, pasta and tofu (for faux egg/chicken salad). I use it mostly in gravy, to make the breading for tofu nuggets and in mac and cheese!

As for a cheese replacement on crackers, I have always gone with avocado, baba ganoush or straight up tahini.

This might not help for your case, but has he tried many kinds of cheese? Sometimes people who cannot eat soft, American cheeses are OK with a hard cheddar or Parmesan. Just a thought.
posted by nbaseman at 1:19 PM on May 12, 2010

Get a copy of The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook. There are recipes for fondues, sauces, and sliceable dairy-free cheeses that are quite good. I'm particularly a fan of the Muenster.
posted by mezzanayne at 4:04 PM on May 12, 2010

Response by poster: Hey, thanks everybody. It appears a date with a GI pediatrician is lined up, in hopes of ironing this out and not making assumptions about dairy.
posted by acoutu at 7:51 PM on June 11, 2010

The Daiya site says it is also available at Dussa's Ham and Cheese at the Granville Island Market (probably easier to get to than New West if the family lives right in Vancouver).
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:55 PM on August 6, 2010

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