Embracing Food Innovations in the Kitchen  

Chef Mareya Ibrahim makes no-bake, animal-free blueberry cheesecakes

Food is a driving force in our everyday lives. Food creates community. Food unlocks creativity. And food has the power to change our future for the better. For us, collaborating closely with all-star chefs to make better-for-everything dairy is essential to building a kind and green world. We had the pleasure of working with chef Mareya Ibrahim to showcase our animal-free cream cheese’s potential at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show last month. Mareya is a food innovation advocate to deliver healthy, nutritious food that packs a punch. We invited her to share her perspective on the future of food and the importance of working together to see a world we’re all proud of. 

Last week, I was talking to my father, an environmental scientist and medical biologist, about just how important it is for our desire to innovate to meet our desire to hold onto what we love and what is familiar. If I am craving pasta, or a cheese pizza, by God, I want to be able to eat those foods and not feel that what I am consuming is a bad replica under the guise of ‘health’. 

The truth is, we live in a very exciting time where the convergence of technology, sustainability, nutrition and flavor have begun to meld together as one food genre – largely because of consumer demand for real food done better. 

Close up shot of no-bake, animal-free blueberry cheesecake

This has always been my true hope for innovations in animal-free products. It’s not enough to just create something that is animal-free. If a product is humanely produced but tastes like cardboard, has a large carbon footprint, or can’t be produced consistently enough, it doesn’t have a chance of making a difference. I know I’m not alone; consumer demand is growing. The desire is there. But let’s face it: for an innovation to have success, it must check all the boxes to appeal to the everyday consumer.  

As a 28-year veteran of the natural products industry, I’ve seen, tested, smelled and tried it all. But I can say now that finally, good animal-free products have become more available. As a chef, food purist and someone who cooks for people who have acute tastebuds, this goes way beyond just a good ‘replica’ of an animal-based protein.   

When I started working with the Perfect Day cream cheese through Chef’s Roll, I was excited to try it and was floored at the flavor, the consistency and the texture that has allowed me to put the product to the test. I created a Roasted Tomato, Spinach and Cream Cheese Pasta, baking the cheese into creamy perfection. I stuffed dumplings with a cream cheese, chive and sweet potato mixture, steaming them into melty, tender submission. And I also featured a recipe starring the animal-free cream cheese at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show center stage in NYC, creating a no-bake version of blueberry cheesecake full of nutrients, fluffy and fit enough to be enjoyed for breakfast. Everyone who tried it loved it and were blown away at how creamy and luscious it was.  

Product versatility is paramount to me. That I can take Perfect Day cream cheese from one preparation to another and have the texture and flavor hold up, encourages creativity, keeps costs down while staying more environmentally-focused and humane in my approach.  

Technology as a conduit to remove the difficulties of mass-producing animal-free products is a great advancement that can support a healthier environment, promote human health, and ensure consistent quality. I hope that companies continue to innovate products like Perfect Day’s animal-free cream cheese and work with chefs to validate just how user-friendly they are. It’s the perfect marriage of art and technology to help these products go the distance. With Perfect Day’s animal-free cream cheese, I don’t have to worry if my pasta dish is going to turn out the way I’ve made it for years, and to me, that’s a beautiful thing. 

Mareya Ibrahim is The Fit Foodie, a TV chef, nutrition coach, author, patented inventor and award-winning entrepreneur. Her new book, “Eat Like You Give a Fork,” (St. Martin’s Griffin) is a #1 New Release and is changing how people prioritize their wellness. She is also a signature chef to the NY Times million copy bestseller “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” and was a featured chef on 3 seasons of the Emmy-nominated show, Recipe Rehab. Mareya is a seasoned food industry expert, and is the recipient of the Senator’s Making a Difference In Health award, World’s Best Technologies gold prize and an Inc. Magazine Newpreneur finalist. Find her on social media, @chefmareya and @eatcleaner, and on her websites at eatcleaner.com and mareyaibrahim.com.

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