A few weeks ago, we decided to make a pretty major dietary shift toward eating vegetarian dinners from Monday through Thursday.
I love animal-based sources of protein (beef! pork! chicken! seafood!), and I’ve always included them in dinner recipes. But we’re trying to improve our nutrition as we age, and this shift is a big step toward cleaning up our diet.
I’m not gonna lie: I do indeed miss the taste of animal proteins on vegetarian nights. But I have experienced a notable change in my overall feeling after these dinners, and it’s a good one. I feel lighter after these meals (even though I still eat a lot, because I love to eat), compared to when I eat dinners with a lot of animal protein.
We do use animal byproducts in our vegetarian dinners, particularly dairy ingredients, to up the umami.
For times when we don’t want to rely on dairy, we use Asian seasonings. For example, soy sauce or oyster sauce goes a long way in adding taste to a dish, and a curry mix can provide overall flavor.
Hubby spearheaded the change toward vegetarian weeknights, and I went along reluctantly, but I’m getting used to the shift. Turns outs there tends to be less cleanup after these meals, and they’re easier to prep because they don’t often require defrosting ingredients.
That’s not to say that I don’t still love meat and poultry and seafood. I absolutely still do. In fact, when Friday rolls around, I get excited because it means I can have animal proteins for dinner that night and the rest of the weekend.
While I’m not going to change to 100% plant-based nutrition, I do think that vegetarian and vegan food products have come a long way from when I first started shopping at health food stores when I lived in New York City circa 15 to 20 years ago.
We wanted to try some of the new vegan cheeses on the market, so we bought a few packs of Treeline’s aged artisinal cheeses. They have two types: classic and cracked pepper.
The flavor of these particular vegan cheeses is not the same as, say, an aged white cheddar, but the product is impressive. It has the texture of goat cheese, and it’s nutrient dense thanks to the primary ingredient of cashew nuts. The flavor has a heavy tart note, brought on by vegan lactic acid. These cheeses also carry lactobacillus acidophilus, which is a probiotic bacteria that’s good for gut health.
We served a small wheel of the cracked pepper cheese with tomato slices and crackers for an appetizer. This cheese is also great with sliced dates as a dessert or snack.
There is a lot of creativity in Treeline’s vegan cheese. I wouldn’t do a strict comparison with dairy cheeses because vegan cheese offers something different: a new way to compose, jumping off from existing concepts.