I’m dyin’ for Daiya!

Last year, I stumbled across a post on the Mothering.com discussion boards about substitutes for cheese for those of us who avoid dairy. The general consensus seemed to be that I needed to get my hands on Daiya cheese, however I could.

It wasn’t available in retail packets in the US (it’s  Canadian), but several sites sold it online in 1lb bags. I bought both the mozzarella and cheddar style. We made some pizza, we broiled some nachos, and most of us were delighted to find something that filled that need for cheese. Lucia didn’t care for it at first, but now that she’s had it a few times, she’s delighted with Daiya like the rest of us.

Fast forward to this summer, and Daiya has hit US markets — it’s in Whole Foods, local health stores, and our food coop catalog. Yipee!

Why are we excited? Because we avoid dairy, we now skip traditional “treat” foods that include grilled cheese sandwiches, tacos, burritos, pizza, nachos and more. Daiya allows us to enjoy all those foods with a cheese substitute that isn’t as heavy, rubbery or greasy as your standard pizza or nacho cheese, it’s made with ingredients that aren’t liked to cancer and other health conditions, and it MELTS!

I let the pizza cool too much to get a good stretchy picture, but you can visit the Daiya website for some lovely images of just that.

Daiya Shreds are made entirely from plant-based ingredients and are FREE. Oh, was that misleading? No, not like you’re hoping (it costs around $5 for 8 oz in stores), but check this list out:

  • Cholesterol free
  • Trans Fat free
  • Dairy free
  • Free of all animal products (Vegan)
  • Free of common allergens including:
    • Soy, Casein, Lactose, Gluten, Egg, Wheat, Barley, Whey, Rice, and Nuts
  • Free of Artificial Ingredients
  • Free of Preservatives
  • Free of Hormones & Antibiotics

The full list of ingredients for the cheddar style shreds are as follows:

Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegan natural flavors, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), annatto.

By no means am I suggesting this this is something to eat to bring about optimal health and nutrition. This isn’t a product to consume on a daily basis, and I’m still wary of ingredients listed as “natural flavors” even when they’re preceded by the word “vegan”. Ditto  for glycerin, xanthan gum and citric acid. This is a processed food, something we avoid on a regular basis. However, when invited to a pizza party, it’s much easier on the kids if they have pizza to eat, and easier on me if I am not concerned about the effects of wheat and dairy on their systems.

You can see the pizza before we cooked it — Bob’s Red Mill GF Pizza Crust (made with ground flax instead of eggs) topped with tomato sauce and mozzerella Daiya. See all the lovely individual shreds? Honestly, it smells better and tastes better to me than most of the rubbery stuff you can get in the local supermarket, be it Kraft, Sargento or Organic Valley.

Then we cooked it — we baked the crust for about 15 minutes first, then pulled it, added the sauce and cheese, and popped it back in for 5 more minutes or so until the cheese was melty and bubbly. Click on this picture to see the enlarged version. If you have cut dairy from your diet for health or ethical reasons, but miss the meltiness and tanginess of cheese topping on your pizza, this is some serious food porn.

Yum, yum and more YUM!


  1. Riley says

    This cheese alternative is excellent – thanks for passing along the information. The cheddar flavor is awesome melted or as-is. And we’re making a “cheese” pizza tonight!

  2. JeanB says

    trying it right now, like…it’s in the oven as I type. We found it at ION in Middletown, both flavors..Mozz & Cheddar.

  3. Riley says

    I liked the Daiya mozzarella fine, although there is a flavor, a bit of an after taste, that seems unavoidable with such products. Veganrella’s mozzarella was originally made with a Brazil-nut base and I really liked that taste, but like Vitasoy-brand soymilk, it is no longer produced. Tlk I think we need to find an Italian vegan chef to come up with a better match for mozzarella.

  4. Sioux says

    I have to say, Riley, that I concur a bit. I personally love the cheddar Daiya, but it’s nice to have pizza again. Why do we need an Italian vegan chef to do our work for us?! I see you going all mad scientist in your kitchen…

  5. Sioux says

    We love love love the cheddar — on nachos, tacos, fajitas, bean dip, toasted cheese sandwiches, ahh, it’s lovely to enjoy those with that stretchy cheddar tang…

  6. Riley says

    I thought I’d offer an update – this is staple food now. I make nachos each week, use the stuff for mac’n’daiya, top casserole dishes with it, and I had my daiya quesadilla-style a couple nights ago (which was totally awesome). I have not yet tried making a grilled-daiya sandwich yet, but I’ll bet that comes out great, too. Lora Jean grew up on broiled tomato-and-cheese sandwiches, so I am planning on surprising her with a special treat this weekend. Thanks again for the great tips!