Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Allergic To Butter? Here Are Some Options
Miyoko's Vegan Butter, Ghee, Earth Balance

Options for individuals allergic to dairy.

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Love Butter but Butter doesn't Love You?
More than half the world's population (some put it as high as 75%) are dairy intolerant. Either they lack the enzyme lactase that allows them to digest lactose (the sugar found in dairy foods) or they are allergic to casein, (the protein found in dairy foods.) If you are dairy intolerant, you most likely cannot tolerate butter.

I can't tolerate dairy of any kind. Yogurt, cheese, butter, milk, cream and ice cream all cause me to have severe stomach pains. But through the years, more and more dairy substitutes have come on the market. Eating out can still be a challenge, but cooking at home is not.

Although Earth Balance has been God's gift to vegans and the dairy intolerant for many years, some superior products are coming on the scene. Recently I bought Miyoko's cultured vegan butter, and I was amazed and delighted with the product. More about that later.

I also discovered that I can easily tolerate ghee. Ghee is actually made from butter, so it's not suitable for vegans, but it does not contain lactose or casein and is generally tolerated by those with dairy allergies. Today I'll do a little comparison between Earth Balance, Miyoko's cultured Vegan Butter, and Ghee.

Earth Balance
This versatile buttery spread is basically a dairy-free, non-hydrogenated margarine. It can be used as a spread for toast or muffins, for cooking, frying, baking, and making frosting. 

There are quite a number of Earth Balance products available to meet people's dietary needs. 

Earth Balance comes in:
Soy Free
Organic Whipped
Olive Oil
Organic Coconut Spread

The Original Earth Balance is made with a vegetable oil blend of palm fruit, canola, soybean, flax and olive oil. It also contains water, salt, "natural flavor" (which can mean anything), pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, and it is colored with annatto extract. Each tablespoon contains 100 calories, 11 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, 105 mg sodium, and 0 carbs and protein.

The Soy Free Earth Balance has the same ingredients except it omits the soybean oil. Nutritional info is also similar with a touch more sodium - 110 mg.

The Organic Whipped Earth Balance is made with a blend of organic vegetable oils including palm fruit, soybean, canola, and olive oil. It also contains water, salt, "organic natural flavor", organic defatted soy flour, organic soy lecithin, lactic acid (as a preservative), and organic annatto extract (for coloring.)  It has less calories and fat with each tablespoon providing 80 calories, 9 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, carbs and protein, and 100 mg of sodium.

The Olive Oil Earth Balance, despite its name, is still a combination of vegetable oils such as palm, canola, safflower, extra virgin olive oil, and flax. Like the Original, it contains water, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid, and annatto extract. It's lower in calories, like the whipped, with each tablespoon providing 80 calories, 9 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 0 cholesterol, carbs and protein, and only 75 mg of sodium.

The Omega-3 Earth Balance contains a vegetable oil blend consisting of palm fruit, canola, soybean, flax, algal oil (the source of the DHA/EPA omega-3), high oleic sunflower oil, sunflower lecithin, rosemary extract, and olive oil. It also contains water, salt, natural flavor, pea protein, sunflower lecithin, lactic acid and annatto extract. Each tablespoon provides 80 calories, 9 g total fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 32 mg EPA/DHA and 320 mg ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, 0 g cholesterol, carbs, and protein, and only 80 mg of sodium.

Since coconut oil has become so popular, it's not a surprise to see the introduction of Earth Balance Organic Coconut Spread. This spread is made from an organic tropical oil blend of extra virgin coconut, palm fruit, and coconut oils plus canola oil. It also contains water, salt, natural flavor, sunflower lecithin and lactic acid. Each tablespoon is 100 calories, 11 g total fat, 5 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, carbs, and protein, and only 70 mg of sodium.

Earth Balance Highlights:
* Wide variety of products to meet dietary needs.
* Similar to margarine but contains no hydrogenated oils but does contain palm fruit oil.
* Can be used to replace butter in cooking, baking, frying, or just slathering.
* Doesn't really impart much flavor, certainly doesn't taste like butter.
* Cost is reasonable. A 15-ounce tub of the Original Earth Balance costs less that $4.00. 

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Miyoko's European Style Cultured Vegan Butter

I'm a big fan of Miyoko's cultured nut cheeses (Winter Truffle is my favorite), so I was excited to finally try her cultured butter substitute. Immediately I noticed that it's white, so it doesn't really look like butter. But as soon as I opened the package, I felt like I had just stuck my head over a fresh bucket of cream! I quickly slathered it on toast. It melted beautifully and the taste was to die for. I haven't been able to eat real butter in years so the subtle, cream flavor almost brought tears to my eyes. I have subsequently cooked with it and I look forward to making a real pie crust with it, but for me, my favorite use will be to taste it on toast or a muffin. You can't beat the flavor.

Miyoko's cultured Vegan  Butter is made with Organic coconut oil, water, organic safflower or sunflower oil, organic cashews, soy lecithin, sea salt, and cultures. Unlike Earth Balance, it does not contain any oil from palm fruit. 

One tablespoon of Cultured Vegan Butter provides 90 calories, 10 g total fat, 9 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, carbs, and protein, and 70 mg of sodium.

Cultured Vegan Butter Highlights
* Unbelievably delicious gourmet butter flavor.
* The only vegan butter alternative that doesn't contain palm oil.
* Can be used for anything that requires butter.
* Pricey at $8 per 8 ounces.
* Not yet as readily available as Earth Balance or Ghee.
* Contains soy.

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Organic Valley Ghee 

Ghee is made from butter so it's not vegan. But in the process of simmering the butter, the water evaporates and the milk solids fall to the bottom, leaving a concentrated butterfat that no longer has lactose or milk proteins (casein.) So for ova-vegetarians or others who consume animal products but who are dairy intolerant, ghee is an option.

Ghee has been used in Ayurvedic practices for many years for increasing digestive strength, nourishing the nervous system, boosting immunity, enhancing memory, and much much more. Organic, grass-fed ghee is rich in conjugated linoleum acid (CLA). It's rich in the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2. It has a very high smoke point, which makes it good for cooking and is stable at room temperature so you can leave it out. It has a rich deep yellow color and has an intense buttery flavor - almost too buttery.

Has an intense yellow color and extreme buttery taste.

One tablespoon of ghee 135 calories, 15 g total fat, 9 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 0 mg carbs, protein, fiber and sodium.

Ghee Highlights
* It's butter without the lactose and casein.
* Generally tolerated by those allergic to dairy.
* Is NOT vegan.
* Has an intense buttery flavor.
* Very high smoke point (485 degrees F) so it doesn't release free radicals during cooking.
* Does not need refrigeration.
* About $15 for a 13-ounce jar.
* Rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 as well as CLA.

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How Do They All Compare?

I think that Miyoko's Vegan Butter has the superior taste. It's smells of fresh cream and is light to the palate. Earth Balance doesn't have much of a flavor at all. Ghee's taste is very concentrated and is almost too buttery. But if you are cooking popcorn and want an intense butter flavor, ghee might be the better choice. But for just spreading on toast where you want the very best flavor, Miyoko wins hands down.

Earth Balance is the best price performer. At around 25 cents an ounce, it is one fourth the price of Miyoko's Vegan Butter or Organic Valley Ghee. 

Miyoko Vegan Butter and Organic Valley Ghee have the simplest and purest ingredients and contain no preservatives, no palm oil, and no "natural flavors". 

Miscellaneous Attributes
* Miyoko and Earth Balance are vegan.
* Ghee doesn't need to be refrigerated.
* Miyoko Vegan Butter and Earth Balance has fewer calories than ghee.
* Ghee and Earth Balance are easily found in local stores. 


Liona said...

I'm allergic to wheat and butter. Other dairy products don't affect me. I recently started using Miyoko vegan butter and an breaking out from it. Not sure why or what I'm allergic to. I'm thinking maybe the culture?? I will try the Earth Balance brand to see if that clears it up.

Dr. Joanne L. Mumola Williams said...

Or perhaps you may have a nut allergy as her butter contains cashews. Have you tried ghee? It is clarified butter without milk protein or lactose.