The vegan Cheeseboard, the perfect cruelty free pigs in blankets and meat free pate.

Being vegan or lactose intolerant doesn’t mean missing out on your favourite festive traditions, and that includes the festive cheeseboard. Huge advances in plant-based food alchemy means that the very best vegan cheeses now rival traditional dairy cheeses in taste and texture.

Arjuna’s very own vegan cheese connoisseur, Jo, takes you through their recommendations for a vegan cheeseboard.

Tyne Chease

If you are strapped for cash or table space, and only have room for one vegan cheese, then I would absolutely recommend going straight for one of Tyne chease’s divine organic cashew-based rounds. Packed full of probiotics and made in the UK near the River Tyne, these cheeses are my number one choice for any cheese board (and not just because I’m from the North East!) They may have a hefty price tag, but every crumb is worth it, and it will stand its own with any cheese pairing. Due to the range of flavours they stock, many of their cheeses are also an excellent bet on their own, with or without crackers!

Try: Cashew Truffle for a decadent cheese based experience!

Nutcrafter Creamery

This Glasgow based company caused much excitement in Arjuna when we started stocking their “Vhalloumi”, but their “Aged” range would go brilliantly on a cheeseboard. These cheeses are classified as “soft”, like a Brie or a Camembert would be. Try their Aged Chive Chévre or Extra Aged Charcoal

Violife

Whether it’s topping a pizza or making a Mac ‘n’ Cheese sauce, Violife has something suitable. Like a Farmhouse Red Cheddar, we think their Cheddar or Smoked Blocks would go perfectly with crackers and a little chutney, for something a little different, try Violife Creamy with Herbs for a change in texture on your cheeseboard or why not try the blue cheese for stilton like dairy free alternative.

Sheese

Sheese is a brand of vegan cheese made using of coconut oil, they have a huge range from vegan cheddar with chives to a red leicster, cheddar alternatives with caramalised onions, spreadable ones with or without herbs and even a greek style block! With 30 years experience of making cheeses they are a great on a cheese bord when looking for different flavours.

Homemade vegan cheese!

If you have the time or the inclination, you could consider making your own cheese! It is a relatively simple process, and something you can talk about with pride at the Christmas dinner table. Try this recipie from the Minimalist Baker which only requires 8 ingredients (all sold at Arjuna) and is naturally gluten free.

Or if you are feeling a little more adventurous then their are recipies vailbel online for making dairy free camenbert! This one by Bosh looks amazing, and again all the ingredients can be found at Ajuna , YUM

TOP TIPS FOR ASSEMBLING YOUR CHEESEBOARD

Pick a variety of cheeses. We recommend choosing 2–4 different cheeses, depending on the number of people you’re feeding, and look for cheeses of different textures and flavours for a more interesting experience. Or if your like my co worker Hollie why not go all out and have about 10 types of cheese then use the left overs up in recipies like making your own mac ‘n’ cheese for meals for the week.

Pair with savoury items… Think olives, sun-dried tomatoes and other anti-pasti. Cheese traditionally goes very well with meat, and this is no different for vegans. Tofurky and Vegusto make several excellent meat-style deli slices that you could try (Hickory Smoked or Smoked Ham style deli slices are my favourite and again available in Arjuna).

And sweet items… Try thinly sliced pears or apples, grapes, berries, figs, or dried unsulphered apricots.

Choose your spreads. Try to have at least one savoury and one sweet spread. I recommend olive tapenade, a mixed berry jam and your favourite chutney.

And finally, pick your bases There’s a huge variety of crackers to choose between, from hearty oat-based crackers such as Nairn’s Super Seeded Oatcakses, to delicate crispbreads (for example, Easy Bean Chickpea or Amisa Buckwheat). Make sure to find out if you are catering for any gluten-free guests, and pick your bases accordingly. A range of textures is preferable.

And if you need a hand putting together your cheese board then you can always pop into Arjuna where we will be happy to help you!

Cruelty free Pigs in Blankets

Pigs in blankets are traditionally known as sausages wrapped in bacon, but for those that are looking for a meat free alternative this christmas its good to know whats out there.

There are 3 ways you can go about making your “pigs in Blankets” as someone looking for the meat free version

1) So the easiest way by far is to buy them pre made, and if you like the brand Vbites then your in luck, as they sell packets of pre made ones all ready to pop in the oven for 20 min and serve

(we are hoping to stock them in Arjuna closer to Xmas but if you have not seen them before you can click here).

2) Now another way (and personally what I choose to do last year!) is to select your favourite meat free sausages and bacon and make them yourself, I personally chose to go for the vegetarian choice frozen sausages as these are really cheap and really tasty! I let them defrost enough so that I could cut them into 3 smaller pieces, then I use slices of the Tofurky Deli mock ham cut into thin strips to wrap around the sausages and cook them up. If you want a bit of a twist you could wrap the sausages in thin slices of portobello mushroom!

But you dont have to use the frozen ones, there is a so much choice now when it comes to meat free sausages! you could try using the beer infused sausages by Tofurkey? or how about tofu based sausages by Taifun?

3) The final option is you could make them yourself and being meat free these are actually easier than you think! Have you ever heard of SOS mix? Well we sell it in Arjuna and you can prepare it in a few different ways but the basic idea is to mix water or stock and a selection of herbs with the dry mix to create essential what is a meat mix that can be shaped and cooked.

So you can make your own sausages using this then wrap them in your own choice of meat free meats or again you could use thin slices or portobello mushroom.

But we wanted to give you a few options for making your own so we also tracked down these 2 recipies for those who might not want to use processed mock meat but would prefer to use vegtables, or pulses to make their “pigs in blankets”

homemade chickpea sausages wrapped in sundried tomatoes by the tofu diaries click here

And I really like this idea by Vegan Sandra, Carrots wrapped in blankets! for this one click here

Veggie/vegan pate

I can tell you as someone writing this that in my pre vegan days used to love pate, BUT these are not just for the veggies and vegans out there and we recommend that you definitely give these a try!

One brand that we recommend and we also stock is Grano vita these either come in a tube or a tub with flavours like shitake mushroom, spicy Mexican or peppercorn and have a really nice pate texture.

Suma also do their own brand of pate (which we also stock) these are slightly cheaper and just come in tubes so may not look as nice on a platter for guests but they are simple products that taste nice in flavours like mushroom or savoury and they also do fresh chilled ones to.

If its something fresh your looking for then Vbites have a few options like their bean feast pate, I haven’t tried them myself but they are popular with our customers.

And if you are looking for something a little different then Bonsan have released a selection of pate that not only look a little more sophisticated in glass (also plastic free!) jars but have unusual but delicious flavours like cashew and bell pepper or beetroot and horseradish YUM.

But if your looking for a meat free pate then its also incredibly easy to make your own

did you know that Bosh came out with a vegan foie gras that they are calling faux gras? The link is here

While I was searching I also came across this delicious looking meat free pate by Lauren Caris cooks

but if you simply type “meat free pate” into your web browser a whole long list of different ideas on how to make a meat substitute style pate come up so why not have some fun with creating your own?

As always we hope you found our blog helpful! What's your favourite meat free xmas alernative? Do let us know in the comments section!