Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Most Delicious Plant-Based (!) Party Tray Ever

As my regular readers know, I've been a vegetarian since I was 15. That was a long time ago (I'll just say I've now been a veg quite a bit longer than I wasn't), so I'm pretty used to not eating meat. It's easy to find alternatives at the grocery store and restaurants, so it doesn't feel like a challenge for me. What has felt like a challenge, however, has been eating vegan and/or plant-based - especially when it comes to dairy. While I'm not a vegan, I am well aware of the health and environmental benefits of choosing a plant-based diet, and I try to incorporate plant-based foods into every meal. But man, it is freaking hard for me to give up dairy. Especially cheese. There are just way too many dishes I love that include cheese (I'm talking to you pizza and grilled cheese sandwiches). I am also kind of famous (at least in my own mind) for the cheese-filled trays I bring to parties and serve at my own gatherings. But I've found a solution you guys. Even those of you who are die-hard dairy (and even meat) fans will love it as much as I do. And I'm not only going to share said solution with you, I'm going to share the components of my soon-to-be-famous (again, in my own mind) Melissa's Plant-Based Party Tray that has officially replaced the now outdated Melissa's Party Tray. Are you excited yet?

First, let's chat about the solution to my inability to give up cheese. It's called the Daiya Farmhouse Block. And it is so good. Now, I was a vegan many years ago, for an entire year, and I tried all sorts of vegan and plant-based "cheeses" that just did not do it for me. In fact, while I never had a hard time finding meat replacements, dairy replacements ended up being my downfall, and I eventually hopped off the plant-based wagon. If only Daiya had been available to me at the time, I might still be strolling merrily along the all-plant-based path. The Farmhouse Blocks come in four varieties: Jalapeño Havarti Style (my favorite), Medium Cheddar Style, Monterey Jack Style, and Smoked Gouda Style. Not only do they look and taste like the real thing, they can be used exactly like the real thing too - you can cube them, slice them, or shred them, and you can eat them cold or melted (they're killer in plant-based grilled cheeses too, but I'll share that recipe for another post). And they're the perfect replacement for the cheese I used to use in my party trays.


Daiya Jalapeño Havarti Style Farmhouse Block
Daiya Medium Cheddar Style Farmhouse Block
Daiya Smoked Gouda Style Farmhouse Block
1-2 organic Fuji apples
1 cup raw almonds
1 cup kalamata olives
Organic grapes
Handful of organic dried apricot (you can also use raisins or dried cranberries)
2-3  plant-based cracker or crisp varieties of your choice

Wash apples and grapes. Slice apples. Slice and/or cube some of each variety of Daiya Farmhouse Block. Arrange all of the ingredients on a large tray or wood cutting board. Watch people devour and comment on how they can't believe everything they're joyfully consuming is plant-based. Bow or curtsy.

I've actually been using Daiya's Farmhouse Blocks in all sorts of dishes lately and am genuinely impressed with how delicious they are. My two year old daughter and meat-loving husband are huge fans too. Daiya actually makes a whole line of plant-based dairy alternatives - from Cream Cheese Style Spreads to a Greek Yogurt Alternatives, to Dairy-free Dressings and their staple cheeses. And they are all totally free of lactose, soy, gluten, eggs, dairy, rice, peanuts, so they're great for those with food allergies or lactose intolerance as well. I personally love the fact that the ingredients can all be pronounced and understood as well (lack of natural dairy alternatives was a big issue when I was vegan), and that they contain no hormones, antibiotics, or anything artificial. I'm excited to incorporate their whole line into my recipes and daily diet.

I hope you make this party tray and that you (and your guests!) love it as much as we do. If you have other plant-based party tray ideas, I'd love to hear them. And for my fellow fans of Daiya products, pretty please share your recipes in the comment or via email!

This post is in collaboration with Daiya. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make Bubby and Bean possible.



  1. We are a veggie house and like you have been a long time, we also want to have more plant based meals day to day. Cheese is my downfall! We already have plant based milks, but I'm finding vegan cheese that's good hard! I wonder if I can get this one in the UK, it sounds great.


    1. I am not sure if they're available in the UK, but here is the link to their store finder: I can completely relate to cheese being your downfall!

  2. I realized long ago that cheese is something I cannot give up - and that I'm really not willing to. At least until Daiya and other cheese alternative start to taste a little bit more like the real deal (and melt like it, too!) I give them a go about once a year and so far, still not convinced. I'm probably extra fussy after being spoiled for so long with French dairy products - it would be seriously hard to give them up after a lifetime of eating them! This party tray does look lovely, although it definitely doesn't resemble any that I make ;)

  3. This looks absolutely divine! I am definitely going to try Daiya ASAP. Thanks for sharing!

  4. My daughter is severely allergic to dairy products, and needs to carry an epiPen with her. She is also allergic to nuts, so it makes meals a challenge. I have tried these products before, when she was younger. She didn't like them and has issues with the texture because she has never had cheese before. I need to try this new product to see if she likes it now. Where did you purchase the products? I'm sure Whole Foods or maybe Kroger might carry it in their stores. Thanks for sharing!!

    1. I can imagine that is incredibly challenging! Daiya makes a whole line of dairy free alternatives. I know they are available at Jewel and Meijer (where I get mine) here in the Chicago area, but they have a store finder on their website as well: I hope your daughter loves them!

  5. Melissa this is such an awesome post! Thank you so much for sharing this. I am very excited to try this brand. I was on their website already and saw that they also have "cheesecake!" eep!!!

  6. It's every so difficult to get non-dairy cheese over here. I would need to go to the specialty store in the city. Those cheeses look great!

  7. Thank you for sharing!! I'm always looking for a good dairy alternative. (I am also a vegetarian who tries to eat plant based as much as possible). Great post!


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