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Queso taste test: Food for Lovers, Nacho Mom’s, and Nacheez

vegan quesos

There are quite a few vegan quesos on the market right now, which makes it easier/awesomer than ever to be vegan. I was pleased to see three competing brands in six different flavors at Sidecar for Pig’s Peace over the weekend, and bought three jars:

  1. Food for Lovers’ vegan queso (which VidaVeganCon introduced me to, and I love)
  2. Nacho Mom’s Ultimate Vegan Queso (also in Fire Roasted and Voodoo flavors)
  3. Nacheez vegan nacho sauce, spicy (also in mild)

I learned about 30 minutes later there is a feud going on between a couple of the quesos that extends beyond the grocery shelf.

As I checked Twitter at Chaco Canyon while enjoying a large kombucha and waiting for my sandwich to arrive (after stocking up on queso and other vegan goodies at Sidecar), I saw the following tweet from Quarry Girl:

OH SHIT! SCANDAL! did nacho mom’s@veganqueso totally rip off & steal from@foodforlovers? looks like it:https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=295193767191626&set=p.295193767191626&type=1&ref=nf #teamFF<3

If this is true, and there does seem to be quite a bit of evidence to that point, that was a really crappy move on Nacho Mom’s part. Still, I was determined to give each the benefit of the doubt and a fair taste test.

Update: the Facebook post above has been taken down, though is available on Lazy Smurf’s Guide to Life. Please also see chef Alana of Nacho Mom’s side of things on her website or in her comment below.

It was a really crappy move on my part to take sides or spread rumors based one account, though I haven’t changed any of the initial wording in this post. I acknowledge my bias, but maintain that the results of my taste test are fair.

To ensure an impartial trial, I pulled in David, who is impervious to vegan drama. And likes nachos. A lot.

And to make it all scientific-like, David closed his eyes and ate a plain chip and drank a sip of water to cleanse his palate between tastings. All were consumed cold.

A: Food for Lovers. B: Nacho Mom’s. C: Nacheez

Food for Lovers

David tried this first and nodded with approval, saying, “Mmm… it’s good.” When pressed for why it’s good, he replied that it was cheezy, with a little spice.

I, too, quite enjoyed this one. It’s creamy without being watery or gelatinous, and is a natural yellow color, with visible chunks of tomato and pepper. It was the spiciest of the bunch, with chili being the dominant flavor, balanced by a mild, savory cheeziness. It’s very fresh and sinus-clearing.

Food for Lovers’ vegan queso is soy-free and nut-free, but does have wheat. The ingredient list is simple and all-natural, and it’s $5.15 for a 12-oz jar, with 20 calories per 2 tbs (12 servings in all).

Nacheez

David’s immediate first reaction to this was of disgust. He described it as having a sweetness that doesn’t taste like queso, and definitely not as spicy or thick as Food for Lovers’ queso. However, he noted that it is edible.

I didn’t pick up the same sweetness (roasted red pepper is the second ingredient, so I can see where it comes from) or disgust, but agree that it’s rather bland — definitely not spicy and without the umami richness of the other two, though I liked the flavor. The texture is a little jiggly. It’s also a day-glo orange color, which turns me off a little, though there is no food coloring added.

Nacheez is free of soy and gluten, but does have cashews. It has the longest list of ingredients of the three, though none are crazy or artificial, and is the priciest: $6.25 for 8.5 oz, with 20 calories per 2 tbs (7 servings in all).

Nacho Mom’s

David found this to be middle of the road: a bit of sweetness, but not as much as Nacheez’s, and also not spicy, but thicker than the others.

Nacho Mom’s really isn’t all that spicy (again, I didn’t taste the sweetness David perceived at all), but has a nice hint of smokiness, probably from paprika — it’s quite tasty. The only downsides are that it’s a little gelatinous if not stirred and is an odd pinkish-orange color, with many big chunks of tomato (the chunks of tomato not being a downside; just an observation)

The ingredient list is straightforward and basic, with tomato as the first ingredient — no surprise there, based on the flavor and appearance. It’s also soy and nut free, but has wheat. At $4.75 for 16 ounces, it’s the most cost-effective. It’s also the most calorie-effective: only 10 calories per ounce, making the whole jar only 160.

L to R: Food for Lovers, Nacho Mom’s, Nacheez

The winner:

Food for Lovers — the spiciness and mellow cheeze flavor make it stand out. David said he would eat this first, with plain chips being his second choice; I would order it Food for Lovers, closely followed by Nacho Mom’s and then Nacheez.

However, I don’t regret having open jars of any of them in the fridge, and will happily eat Nacho Mom’s and Nacheez on baked potatoes and steamed broccoli while David munches on tortilla chips dunked in Food for Lovers. Plus, Nacheez is a great option for the gluten-free vegans out there.

I wanted to hate Nacho Mom’s queso based on what I had read, but really didn’t — the recipe is different enough from Food for Lovers that, even if it is a rip-off, it’s just another option on the market, and it’s pretty tasty. Still, I’ll stick with Food for Lovers queso — it’s delicious, David likes it best, and the founders, a young married couple from Texas, are just too cute.

Tags: Food for Lovers, Nacheez, Nacho Mom's, queso

7 Responses to “Queso taste test: Food for Lovers, Nacho Mom’s, and Nacheez”

  1. December 19th, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Alana--Nacho Mom's says:

    I was working on my queso long before Food For Lovers came in. I am suing them for libel.

    I got my business license 6 months before they filed for theirs.

    My recipe is not even close to their recipe (you can find their recipe on the net which has the ingredients similar to their current recipe. Mine isn’t even close.)

    Yes I live with Alex but Nacho Mom’s isn’t even the same COLOR as theirs due to the totally different ingredients.

  2. December 19th, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    Helen says:

    Hi Alana — thanks for leaving a comment. I did note the distinct color and flavor difference in my post, and apologize for picking sides — I’ve updated my language to include your comments.

    As I also noted in the post, I do think you have a good product.

    Helen

  3. December 19th, 2011 at 4:47 PM

    Andrea says:

    The article I read by the Food For Lovers couple pretty much convinced me they were ripped off, but when I looked at the ingredients of the two brands, they weren’t the same at all. It’s possible Chef Alana and Alix stole the idea for making vegan queso, but I really don’t know what to think, and will have to read Alana’s side after I leave my comment. I probably still won’t know what to think, but will be interested to see how this feud plays out.

    I just wanted to mention that Vegan Mom’s also comes in a fire-roasted flavor that is gluten-free. I’ve found that heating the queso on top of a casserole, greatly improves the flavor and texture.

  4. December 19th, 2011 at 5:06 PM

    Helen says:

    Andrea, you are the voice of reason! I feel like a total jerk for jumping to conclusions, and the quesos are indeed quite different in flavor, appearance and texture. Still, I’m also interested to see how this feud plays out…

  5. December 19th, 2011 at 5:49 PM

    Alana--Nacho Mom's says:

    Food For Lovers has retracted their statement on Facebook.

    Thank you everyone. I totally understand those who were angry. I would have been one of you in your shoes. A one sided statement can lead to that. Had they ever contacted me before they did this I would have (I swear to you) actually taken them to lunch and shown them proof otherwise to ease their minds. I can…and my contact info is on my website. Not one call. Not one email. Just this.

    I never considered us competitors as 2 quesos that are totally different are not competition with a bazillion groceries out there (and a bazillion regular quesos) but, in my mind, a way of growing veganism. I have said publicly on many sites for 1.5 years (google it) that it’s GOOD they and Nacheez are here. Some who don’t like mine love theirs and visa versa. THAT grows people saving animals in their dietary choices. They are nothing alike.

    I did not take anything from them. And I never will. My queso launched first. (6 or 7 months before theirs) but I worked on it LONG before that. Since they admittedly posted their recipe on their blog themselves, I could have copied their recipe exactly had this been my goal and had I copied them or wished to hurt them.

    I didn’t know it existed when I began developing mine.

    I can prove how I got the idea and how the recipe evolved. And I will.

    PLEASE compare ingredient statements! And their original recipe is all over the internet. The full recipe. And on every article where they were interviewed on the net they mentioned that they published it on their blog Vegan Explosion. Make it and taste mine…they aren’t even a smidgen alike.

    They posted on the Austin vegan website about waiting on their labels last November or December. My labels had been out since that summer. Did I post they copied mine because it had a heart? No, their name is Food For Lovers. It makes sense to have a heart. Mine was designed to mimic a tattoo saying “MOM” to be edgy…I never in a million years would have thought to post on Facebook they copied my label just because mine was out first. I didn’t believe they did.

    This is not some new idea they gave me. This is my passion. I owned a pottery studio in Dallas with PETA stickers on the window 15 or so years ago. Last time I checked they were still there. (Drop by Paint Yer Pottery if you are in Dallas and ask where that sticker came from. I sold that store.) I am a trained chef. I am from Texas. I developed a queso. yes, a few months later we find they did too and there are only 2 copackers in Austin (actually one… the other is in round rock) so there is a 100% chance they would walk into the facility where I make mine. You know what they could have been told? They could have been told no it won’t sell or wasn’t good to have them drop the idea. Instead, they were helped.

    but did I ever post anything to hurt them? No. I actually referred customers to them who wanted a spicier queso.

    THAT saves animals. Choices.

    I will never ever ever win by hurting them. Never.

    I equate vegans with empathy but I’m fighting hard to have empathy right now…this is my baby. Think of a child or pet of yours that someone said something bad and untrue about…it’s not only hard to understand WHY it’s hard not to be heartbroken.. And that was my day. Trying to prove a negative before they retracted it.

    The retraction helped but posting something like that for one day is one day too painful.

    I PROMISE you you will all see the truth. I won’t let it go until you do. One can’t hurt my pets, my family, or my business without me becoming mama bear. I love them all.

    And I love y’all for wanting all the facts…thank you.

  6. December 19th, 2011 at 6:21 PM

    Jes says:

    Aw man, what a stinky time to do such a yummy taste test post! I have some Food For Lovers queso en route in the mail (from their holiday gift box thingie–hello, queso cozy, yes please!) and can’t wait to give it a whirl. I hate the allegations, but I’m sure it’ll all work out. In the meantime, to vegan queso!

  7. December 19th, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Helen says:

    To vegan queso!!

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