Taste test: Are the latest food substitutes worth a try? Find out

Mar 18, 2017, 08:25 IST | Joanna Lobo

Quinoa cake, cashew cheese, soya fish, mock cold meat. Do these latest food substitutes make the cut on the health and taste scale? Joanna Lobo finds out

Cashew milk cappuccino
It came to us in a steel tumbler, frothy and stark white. The aroma reminded us of fresh milk but, in reality, this was cashew milk. This simple ingredient is the star of many of the drinks at the health bar, Vibe Liquiteria. In particular, their bestselling drink, the Cashew Milk Cappuccino (`210). The coffee drink was a simple concoction of cashew milk, espresso and just the faintest hint of foam; as a sweetener, they add in molasses. We liked the lightness that this nut milk brought to the drink, although the flavour was strong enough to overpower that of the coffee. The molasses added an unnatural sweetness that we could’ve done without.

Taste test: The coffee scores high on creaminess and froth, and costs as much as a regular cappuccino. For those who don’t like their coffee strong, this works well.
Expert view: Cashew milk is nut milk, which has similar fats as full-fat milk, and similar calories. It works as an occasional treat but otherwise, you’re fine consuming skimmed milk.
Time: 9 am to 11.30
At: Shop 4, Rafi Mansion, 28th Road, near Guru Nanak Park, Bandra (W)
Call: 30151837

Quinoa puffs
Quinoa puffs appear to be the most popular health food product to hit supermarket shelves. We tried the Roasted Quinoa Puff with Olive and Herb from Healthy Alternatives (`149 for 125 gm). The puffs received mixed reviews. We liked the crunchiness and chatpata taste, but didn’t return for seconds. For an expert view on this and other items, we spoke to Karishma Chawla, nutritionist and founder of Eat Rite 24x7.

Taste test: Given the choice between puffs and popcorn, we would go with the latter. Popcorn is addictive and actually makes you feel like you’ve eaten something substantial.
Expert view: I like the base but not the added salt, sugar, and milk solids in it. Quinoa is a complex carb, it doesn’t increase your sugar levels like popcorn does, and it has a lower GI than popcorn, which is good.

Vegetable sausages
If you’ve ever eaten it, you know there’s nothing quite like chicken or pork sausages. They’re an addictive, if unhealthy, treat. In our hunt for a healthier substitute, we bought the Classic Sausage from Veggie Champ (`212 for 180 gm). In terms of texture and the way they had to be cooked, they were similar to typical sausages but they lacked taste and felt a tad dry.

Taste test: Even though we aren’t fans of regular processed meat, this product didn’t appeal to us. Besides, it isn’t easily available in major supermarkets or online.
Expert view: Any cold cuts will have large amounts of fat and salt. I wouldn’t recommend it at all, whether vegetarian or not.
Available at: Foodhall, Lower Parel.
Log on to: ahimsafood.in

Quinoa zucchini choc cake
When you think chocolate cake, zucchini is not an ingredient that comes to mind. So naturally, when we ordered the Quinoa Zucchini Gooey Chocolate with Roasted Almonds from the online store Healthy Treats, we weren’t expecting much. The cake, when it arrived, had a slight burned smell and look to it. But the taste won us over. It was perfectly moist on the inside and crunchy on the top. The roasted almond slivers decorating the cake added texture and a slight sweetness to each slice. We liked the fact that the cake wasn’t dense and that there wasn’t any overpowering taste of zucchini, which tends to have a sharp flavour.

Taste test: We preferred this to a chocolate cake because it had the same decadence without the calories. It’s the price point that will make us think twice about ordering it again.
Expert view: It works better than any other cake — there’s no fat, full points for using quinoa. Zucchini is a healthy veggie and dark chocolate is good even though it has sugar. If you are dieting and want to indulge, this works.
Log on to: divyashealthytreats.com
Cost: 875 (500 gm), 1,750 (1 kg); delivery extra

Cashewnut cheese
Make way for Anti-Cheese. It is made with just cashewnuts — soaked overnight, ground and then left to ferment for 24 hours. We ordered this product from the Orange Bowl, the vegan food company started by siblings Shamita and Tushar Goghia. Their Anti-Cheese comes in four flavours — Lime and Pepper, Herb ’n Garlic, Spicy Scallion and Zesty Jeera flavours; priced at `350 each. We ordered the Lime and Pepper and the Herb ‘n Garlic. The Anti-Cheese can fool anyone with its creamy and cheesy texture. The lime and pepper one had the freshness of pepper without the heat; the herb one lacked the flavour of garlic.

Taste test: We liked the creamy smoothness of Anti-Cheese and despite the corny name, it was addictive. The price is a tad on the higher side, but we don’t mind spending on it.
Expert view: In cashewnut cheese, the fat that you would find in normal cheese will still be there; almonds and walnuts would’ve been slightly better. Also, cashewnuts are addictive, so from a health perspective, it’s not a better alternative. It’s a good option for vegans or those allergic to dairy.
Call: 9820178917

Soya chaap
It’s one of the few places where being fake works. The six-month-old Chaap ki Chhap is a small stall in Andheri, which uses mock meat (chaap) to serve up tasty Punjabi food. Their secret: soya. We tried their ‘fish’ dish, Machhli Zameen Ki (`169). In terms of looks, it fit the bill — looking like pieces of basa marinated in a spicy masala for hours. Instead of frying the ‘fish’, they grilled it over an open flame till it is cooked. The result was a dish that had the flaky, layered texture of fish, but none of the flavour associated with the actual thing. To complete the dish, it came served with lime, onions and mint yoghurt chutney.

Taste test: Soya machhli is interesting and tasty (given the right ingredients) but doesn’t work as a fish substitute. That said, we prefer its taste to that of basa.
Expert view: Soya is a better protein than cottage cheese, but it is a second-class protein that is low in one or more of the essential amino acids. If you want good protein, it is best to stick to animal products.
Time: 5 pm to 12.30 am
At: Shop 37, Evershine-2, Seven Bungalows, Andheri (W)
Call: 8291493369

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