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of my soon-to-be-famous (again, in my own mind) Melissa's Plant-Based Party Tray that has officially replaced the now outdated Melissa's Party Tray.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.
THE MOST DELICIOUS PLANT-BASED PARTY TRAY EVER
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
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.
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