Product Review: Daiya Strawberry Cream Cheese

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When I saw this product on the shelves of our local organic market, I let out a squeal of excitement so loud the people around me were backing away.  But I couldn’t help but be excited over a new “cheese” product from Daiya, makers of the best and most meltable dairy-free cheeses I’ve tried, and when I saw they had included a strawberry flavor in their “cream cheese style spread” line, it was all over.  Back in my dairy-consuming days, I used to love strawberry cream cheese, and although Tofutti makes a good plain cream cheese approximation, I had yet to see a dairy-free strawberry version.  Since it’s probably been about twelve years since I’ve had strawberry cream cheese, this product had a long period of fond memories to live up to, but I had to try it.  So we picked up some bagels and grabbed a container.

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Here is what the spread looks like after opening the package.  The dark spots are bits of real strawberry, which is nice, but the aroma that you get when you open the package is a bit more artificial strawberry.  This was a great sign.   Artificial strawberry flavoring is true to the strawberry cream cheese experience.  The consistency is like slightly warm dairy cream cheese: solid, but very easily spreadable.  If you stuck a knife upright into the product, it would fall over slowly.  This is an interesting contrast to the Tofutti product, which has a thicker texture.  If you stuck a knife into Tofutti cream cheese, it would stand there for awhile.

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You can get a better idea of the consistency of the product here, thanks to my hand model John.  It’s almost more like a dip than what I remember to be the texture of cream cheese, but granted, it has been a very long time since I’ve eaten dairy cream cheese.  But it still smells great, so texture is kind of secondary, right?  Things are still looking good for Daiya.

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As you can see in this action shot, the Daiya is highly spreadable.  A plus for easy bagel application.

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Cinnamon raisin bagel, post cream cheese.  Looking delicious.  And then I took a bite…and it only took a second to realize that this product was not for me.  The texture and flavor of the spread is so highly reminiscent of dairy cheese it was slightly unsettling and more than a little unappetizing for me.  The strawberry flavor was delicious, and I can recognize that part of the flavor as good, but mostly when I tried to eat this my brain was just screaming at my mouth: “Cheese!  It’s cheese, get it out get it out get it ouuuut!”  Not really a pleasant bagel-eating experience.  However, I don’t want to fault Daiya for creating an imitation that is too realistic.   If you currently eat dairy products or have stopped consuming them fairly recently, you might love this.  It’s been so long since I’ve eaten dairy that my body has an aversion to anything that is too similar in flavor or texture to the real thing, but John, who only stopped eating dairy several years ago, thought this product was great.  He loved the flavor and texture, so it’s likely that the visceral reaction I experienced would only be something that those who have had many years to build up a distaste for “dairy-like” products would also have.  So definitely give this product a try if you currently eat dairy and are trying to cut down or eliminate it from your diet, or if you are relatively new to eating dairy-free and can still think about cheese or milk as delicious food concepts.  If you eliminated dairy from your diet a long time ago and the thought of dairy is a bit nauseating, stick with Tofutti, which is close enough to the original to satisfy a craving but not too close to freak out your cheese-wary brain,  or make your own.

Ingredients: Filtered Water, Coconut Oil, Tapioca Starch, non-GMO Expeller Pressed Canola and/or non-GMO Expeller Pressed Safflower Oil, Evaporated Cane Sugar, Strawberries, Potato Starch, Pea Protein Isolate, Sea Salt, Vegetable Glycerin, Xanthan Gum, Lactic Acid (for flavor), Natural Vegan Flavors, Titanium Dioxide (a naturally occurring mineral), Fruit and/or Vegetable Juice (for color), Vanilla Extract, Vegan Enzyme.

Strawberry CC nutritionals

 

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3 thoughts on “Product Review: Daiya Strawberry Cream Cheese

  1. I don’t think my tongue could ever learn to scream “EW! It’s got dairy in it!”. Real cheese is probably the best tasting food ever made, and I’ve been vegan for over ten years. That said, I tried this yesterday and it was the most foul thing I’ve intentionally put in my mouth. It had the most intensely bitter flavor and I was amazed anyone would enjoy it. I threw the whole thing right in the trash :( It tasted something like strawberry cream cheese mixed with nail polish remover.

    • Ouch! Sorry you had such a bad experience…I hope you read my review after you had already tried it! I’d hate to think I steered you in the wrong direction. I actually didn’t find the flavor to be completely unappealing. It did have some of that artificial strawberry flavor that you look for in a strawberry cream cheese, sort of like cough syrup mixed with yogurt (and I say that with love), but the undertone of dairy-like flavor and the texture were too close to what my brain remembers dairy cream cheese to taste and feel like. Did you at least find the texture to be more cheese-like than some of the other vegan alternatives? If so, perhaps you’d have more luck with the plain? Maybe they forgot to put the nail polish remover in that one :).

      If you haven’t already, you should check out Miyoko Schinner’s book Artisan Vegan Cheese, which I hear very good things about from vegans who have been unsatisfied with the commercially available vegan cheese substitutes. You might want to keep an eye on the blog as well if you don’t have Schinner’s book already, as the author was inspired by several of Schinner’s recipes.

  2. As the hand model/primary consumer of the above container of Daiya Strawberry Cream Cheese, I actually didn’t really have a problem with either the texture or flavor. It spread well across a bagel, even better than traditional cream cheese, and the taste was a good combination of cheesiness and artificial strawberry.

    The major issue I had with it was its performance on a hot bagel. I’m not sure if it was a question of the Daiya not being cold enough or the bagel being too warm, but the cream cheese broke down a little if you let it sit. I’m planning to buy another container and stick it in the freezer while I’m slicing and toasting the bagels, and I’ll give them a few extra minutes to cool before putting on the cream cheese. Hopefully that will fix any issues I had.

    I’ve only been a vegan for almost 3 years, so maybe it’s not as disconcerting and gross to me as some of the other readers seem to think. All in all it’s a nice change from the over-aerated texture of Tofutti.

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