When it comes to vegan alternatives, it is often difficult to find ones that can even compare to the original. While I avoid the meat alternatives — who wants to eat soy soysauge? — one of the tastes I have missed most since cutting out dairy is butter. I prefer olive oil and never used butter in my meals all that often because of the fat content, but when baking or browning something with butter, I want true butter taste and not a waxy and watery alternative.
One of the first alternatives I discovered was Smart Balance that was that exact and unfortunate combination of waxy and watery. Luckily, while atCentral Market I stumbled upon Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread and Vegan Buttery Sticks, which are ironically a part of the daughter company of Smart Balance. In these soy bean based, vegan, gluten-free, all natural (with organic options), non-hydrogenated and blended-oil concoctions, Earth Balance found the solution to the vegan butter problem.
Much like its father brand, Earth Balance aims to create a product that is as healthy as it is delicious. On their site, they have a comprehensive explanation on the use of the “good guys” — Omega 3s and HDL Cholesterol — and the harms of the “bad guys” — Trans Fat and LDL Cholesterol.
Ultimately, (along with an overall well-rounded diet and regular exercise) the balance of fats in your diet effects the levels of cholesterol in the body and, if you haven’t figured out already, more Omega 3s and less Trans Fats improves the levels of good HDL Cholesterol and lowers the levels of bad LDL Cholesterol. To achieve this healthy balance, Earth Balance includes good oils that contain Omega 3s and excludes hydrogenated ingredients (which should always be avoided) as the source of Trans Fat. With a few added plant derivatives, like soy and beets, and clever ingredients, they came up with a nutritionally mindful, spreadable, meltable and delicious product.
While I still prefer olive oil and limit my butter consumption to the occasional baked good or tofu stir-fry, I feel better about what I am eating. Without the artery-clogging dairy fat, Earth Balance is already a better alternative. With the addition of healthy fats and lack of hydrogenated ingredients, it might as well be considered a health food — a tasty one at that.