I recently discovered WayFare products at a local dairy-free/gluten-free bakery in Baltimore, MD called Harmony Bakery. And...let's just say--they had me at "first bite." I know you're thinking, "yea sure whatever" but hear me out!
So, here I am, biting into Harmony's warm and delicious homemade gluten-free bagel smothered with vegan cream cheese. And as usual, I'm not really expecting much when it comes to vegan cream cheeses--because they always seem to disappoint.
But let me tell you---my eyes literally lit up in astonishment as to how good it tasted. I mean, let me put things into perspective for you--I've been plant-based for four years now and not once have I tried a vegan cream cheese that was even remotely comparable to the real thing--UNTIL NOW. Needless to say, I had to ask the employees at Harmony what that magical cream cheese spread was that I had just consumed. They replied with the name "Wayfare." I hadn't heard of it before but that set me on a journey to find this product in stores, spread it all over other tasty things and eventually write about them today.
But, before we get into why I love this company so much, and the three ways I use their products as a dairy-free alternative, let's talk a little about why we should even bother to avoid dairy in the first place.
Why not consume dairy?
Some of the most consumed dairy products in the United States are butter, yogurt, cheese and milk. Some dairy-based product favorites for foodie's and the general American public alike are cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla pudding and chocolate pudding. Not to mention nacho cheese and other dairy-based dips. Now, I love a good cream cheese don't get me wrong--but not at the expense of my health. And, if you're reading this article you probably feel the same way.
Dairy based foods like milk, cheese, yogurt and coffee creamers have long been touted as healthy and supported by organizations such as the FDA. These companies claim dairy to be "essential for bone health" especially for growing kids due to its supposed calcium content. Well, just in case you have been living under a rock, I'm here to tell you that, that couldn't be any further from the truth. And many of our ancestors have known this for ages. The problem is that we have all been bread to believe the "calcium lies" since the dawn of colonization. In fact, a 2005 review published in the Journal Pediatrics showed that drinking milk does not improve bone strength in children. An even more recent study detailed that researchers tracked the diets, exercise, and stress fracture rates of young girls for seven years and concluded that dairy products and calcium do not prevent stress fractures in adolescent girls. Now, it doesn't take me learning that a bunch of scientists say this stuff ain't good for us, to stop consuming it. I mean, the proof is literally in our DNA especially knowing the fact that adults of most ethnicities (with the exception of some Europeans) don't even continue to produce the enzyme's necessary to break down lactose after adolescence.
So, if drinking milk and consuming other dairy products aren't going to give us strong bones, what will? ....Plants! Surprisingly enough, plants like kale, dandelion greens, callaloo and broccoli contain both Vitamin K and calcium, which are both essential for the health of our bones. This is of course opposite to what the media tells us about calcium trumping all other vitamins and minerals when it comes to bone health. Beyond that, what good is it if ain't absorbed? In order for calcium to be used by our bodies, it must be first absorbed. Vitamin D is the one vitamin that is responsible for the absorption of calcium into our bones and it so happens to not be naturally occurring in dairy foods. In cases where you see milk cartons that market Vitamin D content inside, these are actually fortified versions of the vitamin. Vitamin D is naturally produced in our skin once exposed to sunlight and can be found in small amounts in mushrooms, sea moss and of course in products such as vegan vitamin D3 supplements.
Now that we know eating dairy foods aren't the best choice when it comes to getting our Calcium and vitamin D, let's dive into some practical alternatives to your everyday dairy products.
What are our alternatives?
1. Vegan Butter...in your cooking!
Butter is great for cooking rice, baking desserts, making toast or just adding to mashed potatoes. I personally use butter for most of the things I just mentioned weekly and love the fact that I'm not consuming dairy while still being able to enjoy the taste of butter. One of the reason's why I love Wayfare's Salted Whipped Butter [get 15% off when you use code 15TGL at checkout] is because it's soy free and made from butter beans. Butter beans are packed with magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, manganese and other vitamins and minerals. And, unlike many other vegan butter brands on the market it doesn't contain any food coloring, lactic acid and most importantly no canola oil. It's also perfect for spreading because it's a whipped butter which is not so common in the vegan butter arena. The one draw back though is that it does contain "natural flavors" which is usually some sort of non-specific word used to express that there are flavor enhancers in the product. Pictured here is my lovely dairy-free apple pie with a crumble on top. I used Wayfare's Salted Whipped Butter not only in the apple filling, but also in the apple crumble which toasts the oats, flour and sweetener perfectly for a crunchy topping.
2. Vegan Cream Cheese...on your bread!
Cream cheese is one of those luxury food items that I thought I left behind in the carnivorous lifestyle that I once lived--but no. The thing about cream cheese is, it's creamy, it's rich and it's usually dairy-based. But thankfully for us, food and product development companies have come a far way when it comes to giving us dairy-free alternatives to our favorite foods. Wayfare's Dairy Free Cream Cheese's [get 15% off when you use code 15TGL at checkout] are my absolute favorites. I tried most other dairy-free options on the market and by far this one is the closet to the real thing, without compromising the quality of ingredients. Some of the main ingredients are water, Organic Butter Beans, Organic Oats, Organic Coconut Oil and Organic Agave Syrup. This product does have a gum in it (Organic Gum Arabic) to avoid separation which I'm not a fan of but it's almost impossible to find products of this nature without gums. So, I suppose it just comes with the territory. Overall it tastes great, it spreads well, it's dairy free and is amazing on fresh baked bread or on your favorite bagel. I used my Wayfare Onion Chive Cream Cheese as the base to my avocado toast topped with seasoned and sautéed kale, mushrooms and bell peppers. It's delicious for breakfast or for a quick mid-day snack.
3. Sour Cream...on your Mexican Food!
What's a plant-based quesadilla or taco without cream cheese? You might as well not even bother. I was not surprised when I tried Wayfare's Dairy Free Sour Cream [get 15% off when you use code 15TGL at checkout] to find out that it had the perfect taste. I must say though, the texture is a bit more on the stiff side in comparison to your average dairy-based sour cream. But as for the taste and the function, it is perfect for your Mexican food needs! Wayfare's sour cream is also made out of Butter beans and most of the ingredients I listed in the Vegan Cream Cheese section. I can't help but rave over this company for their willingness to keep their ingredients as clean as possible without compromising taste.