by Karen Joslin
January 17, 2020
Spero Foods creates stellar vegan eggs, cheese, and cheesecake primarily from seeds, all with a short ingredient list and no weird additives. They're paleo and keto as well.
Producing their products uses far less water and land than eggs, dairy, or nuts, making Spero’s offerings more sustainable.
Since I took the photo above, Spero has revamped the product names and packaging. They also seem to have discontinued one of the cheeses, The Tomato (originally Sundried Tomato).
In my opinion, they’re the best vegan products that most people have never heard of. (Yet!) Doug, my omnivore dreamboat, also likes Scramblit and loves the chèvres.
Their ingredients don’t contain gluten, soy, or nuts, and Spero’s website used to have a few testimonials from people with nut allergies who love their products.
However, their manufacturing process could result in trace amounts of dairy, gluten, soy, or nuts. So if you seriously need to avoid any of those things, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether to risk it or not.
Now that we’ve covered all that, let’s get into specifics.
Spero changed Scramblit’s name to The Egg in late 2019.
Made with pepitas (pumpkin seeds), The Egg makes a tasty egg substitute. (It’s not appropriate to use as an egg replacer in baking, though.)
While the flavor and texture isn’t a spot-on reproduction of eggs, it’s close enough to be satisfying.
The Egg cooks a bit differently than eggs. To make a scramble, you set your burner on medium-low heat and cover the pan. Once it’s mostly firm, then you can scramble it. Our favorite way to eat it scrambled is in a taco or burrito with other fillings and salsa.
Omelets can be challenging to get right, but if you fail miserably you end up with a delicious scramble, so it all works out in the end. You can make a fluffier omelet by adding 1 Tbs. flour and 1/8 tsp. baking powder per 1/2 cup of The Egg.
I find that to make an omelet, I need to use my smallest frying pan (7 inches). I’m not sure whether the type of rangetop you have would make a difference (ours is gas).
For the simplest and most egg-like way to cook The Egg, make a fritatta. (I bake it in a casserole dish like a crustless quiche.)
Like any other vegan “egg” dish, the way to make it taste more eggy is to sprinkle it with kala namak (a.k.a black salt), which Spero calls Egg Salt. The Egg & Cheese Sampler includes a container of Egg Salt. You can also order it separately.
According to Spero, compared to a serving of eggs, a serving of The Egg contains:
* 12x more antioxidants * 3x more protein * 2x more Omega 3s
Now you’re probably wondering how The Egg compares to the Just Egg. Personally, I think Just Egg comes closer in flavor and texture to real eggs.
However, I still prefer The Egg because of the ingredients:
* Water * Pepitas * Turmeric * Garlic powder * Salt
Just Egg’s ingredients:
* Water * Mung Bean Protein Isolate * Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil * Dehydrated Onion * Gellan Gum * Natural Carrot Extractives (color) * Natural Flavors * Natural Turmeric Extractives (color) * Potassium Citrate * Salt * Soy Lecithin * Sugar * Tapioca Syrup * Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate * Transglutaminase * Nisin (preservative)
My general rule for packaged foods is that if it contains ingredients I wouldn’t use myself, then I’d rather avoid it. I also don’t want the added oil in Just Egg. (The sugar content is negligible – less than 0.5 g per 1/4 cup serving.)
Now let’s compare the nutrition in 1/4 cup of The Egg to 1/4 cup of Just Egg. That’s approximately the liquid size of one egg.
Because both products use different serving sizes, I’ve had to mathematically adjust the numbers listed on their labels. I’ve rounded the numbers up or down to the nearest whole number.
There’s no data available for the amount of zinc, magnesium, or Omega 3s in Just Egg. However, the same amount of mung beans alone contain only small amounts of all three.
It should be noted that both pepitas and mung beans have much higher amounts of Omega 6s than Omega 3s, which isn’t ideal.
Still, with the iron and zinc content of The Egg, it’s a good addition to a plant-based diet, which can be low in both of those minerals.
All of Spero Foods’ cheeses are made primarily from sunflower seeds. They share these basic ingredients:
* Sunflower seeds * Water * Coconut oil * Salt * Cultures (vegan)
These are delicious, artisanal cheeses worthy of serving on a cheese board with a good wine.
Current flavors (all chèvre-style) include The Goat (a.k.a. Goaty), The Herb (a.k.a. Herbalicious), The Smoked (a.k.a. Smokey Chipotle), and The Paprika (a.k.a. Smoked Paprika). Although The Tomato has been discontinued, you might still be able to find it in a few places, so I’ll review it anyway.
In the past, Spero has also produced two limited edition special flavors, The Cam (a.k.a Camembert) and The Blue (a.k.a. Bluebert). These are firmer than the chèvres, with bloomy rinds.
(In cheesemaking terms, a bloomy rind is a skin that forms on the outside of the cheese due to the introduction of mold cultures. It’s the type of rind on traditional Camemberts and Bries.)
The Goat’s only additional ingredient is natural flavors (vegan). I have no idea what they’re derived from, but The Goat’s creamy texture and tangy, slightly musky flavor closely approximates the real thing.
I think you could fool someone into thinking it’s actual goat cheese, especially if it’s in a dish.
It’s an excellent go-to cheese for almost any purpose.
Unlike the rest of Spero’s cheeses, The Herb tastes like The Goat to me, with the addition of herbs.
It might be my imagination, though, because it doesn’t have natural flavors listed in the ingredients. It does have garlic powder in addition to the herbs.
I believe they’ve changed the herb blend a little bit since the first time I tried it. The first time it tasted like Herbes de Provence.
The last time I had it, the amount of herbs had increased, with chives most prominent.
Although The Herb is less versatile than The Goat, it’s my favorite flavor. I love it on a bagel, in sandwiches, in salads, stirred into grits, and with The Egg (scrambled, omelet, or fritatta).
I bet it would also be fantastic in risotto and crèpes.
Nominated for Best Vegan Artisanal Cheese in VegNews’ 2020 Veggie Awards. (Voting is currently underway as I write this.)
Additional ingredients include liquid smoke (hickory), onion powder, and chipotle pepper.
To me, it’s more smoky than spicy. Of course, your experience will depend on how much spicy food you habitually eat and how hot you like it.
The only two ways I’ve used this that didn’t work as well for me were on a bagel and in a quesadilla.
I think it would work in quesadilla, though, if you make it in a pan or a toaster oven, instead of pressing it like I did in my Cuisinart Griddler. (I was vainly hoping it wouldn’t squeeze out of the sides too much, but my hopes were dashed.)
I like to sneak The Smoked into Mexican restaurants and add it to my veganized order.
Spoiler alert – The Paprika contains paprika! (Smoked, not sweet Hungarian.)
It previously also contained sumac, however the updated packaging doesn’t list that. Garlic powder is the only other additional ingredient.
While this cheese is similar to The Smoked, it’s more subtle and not at all spicy.
I’d say that it’s the second most versatile flavor, after The Goat. So far I’ve used it in the same ways as I’ve used the other cheeses.
Next time I get some, I’d like to branch out and use it in dishes from Paprika-loving countries. I’m thinking a Spanish tortilla, goulash, paprikash, or maybe something Portuguese.
When I received my first Spero order, I thought The Tomato would be one of my favorites. I’ve made my own cashew cream cheese and mixed in sundried tomatoes, and it’s fantastic on bagels, sandwiches, etc.
Yet both Doug and I felt that The Tomato is missing something. (Maybe more garlic or some Italian herbs would take it to the next level?)
Since it’s no longer included on Spero’s product page, if you want to try it or stock up before it’s gone, check Vegan Essentials or a local store that carries Spero.
A couple of decades ago, my best friend and I loved Camembert and Brie. We’d bake a wheel with sliced almonds and devour the resulting gooeyness with bread or crackers.
At some point, though, those cheeses became too overwhelming for my palate. The gooeyness started reminding me of mucus. And I had never really liked the rinds.
But I was still curious to try The Cam just to see what it’s like.
In addition to the basic cheese ingredients, The Cam includes P. candidum and G. candidum, molds used to create traditional Camembert.
It’s difficult for me to compare the flavor of The Cam to Camembert because it’s been so long since I’ve had Camembert. The inner portion is firmer and less creamy, though. If you baked it, I doubt it would melt.
However, the smoth, bloomy rind on The Cam has the exact same taste and texture as I remember from dairy Camembert.
For me, the inner portion of The Cam was preferable to the real thing, while I didn’t like the rind any better. I liked The Cam best cut into chunks and added to a salad.
Although I personally prefer Spero’s chèvres to The Cam, I think a lot of people would love this cheese.
The Blue is the only Spero cheese I haven’t tried, and that’s because I’ve never liked blue cheeses.
I believe the inner portion is the same as The Cam because it contains the two mold cultures used in The Cam.
Instead of blue veins, it has a rind with a mottled blue-gray color and craggy surface, created by P. roqueforti, the mold used to create blue cheeses. I assume this is where the blue cheese flavor is concentrated.
Spero describes The Blue as, “… one of our most mind-blowing cheeses. The rich flavors and textures will send your taste buds for a ride! Aged, dryer, complex, smokey, nutty, musty, cam-y.”
The nutritional profile is the same for all the cheeses.
Spero lists the serving size as 37 g, which is a little odd since this results in 4.5 servings per package. Usually, a serving size of cheese is considered an ounce, and Spero cheeses contain 6 oz.
So here’s the nutritional breakdown for an ounce of Spero cheese versus an ounce of soft goat cheese (again, numbers have been rounded):
As you can see, Spero comes out ahead in terms of saturated fat content and vitamins/minerals, with the exception of calcium. Which one wins for total fat content, carbs, protein, and fiber is more subjective, based on your particular diet.
Formerly Whipped Cheesecake (Cinnamon), it’s been renamed The Cinn. Its ingredients are:
* Sunflower seeds* Water* Agave* Coconut oil* Cinnamon* Salt* Cultures
The Cinn has a lovely, creamy mouthfeel and a subtle sweetness that’s not overwhelming. The cinnamon adds an extra delicious touch.
Unlike a traditional cheesecake, The Cinn doesn’t have a crust. So besides eating it as is, you can use it in lots of creative ways. Spread it on toast, make truffles with it, use it as a cannoli filling, top a baked sweet potato with it, or whatever else you dream up.
In fact, I think that eating it in small quantities like that is the way to go. The reason is because while the numbers on the label look decent for a dessert, that’s because it assumes five servings per 6 oz. container.
Because it would be incredibly easy to eat the entire tub at one time, I’ve calculated the numbers for the whole thing; numbers for the listed serving size are in parentheses. The last column shows the stats for an equivalent serving of Daiya’s New York Cheezecake (almost twice the serving size listed on the box.)
As you can see, if you eat an entire tub of The Cinn, that’s 800 calories. If 2000 calories per day is what you need to maintain a healthy weight, then you’ve just eaten 40% of your caloric limit.
Daiya isn’t really better, though, because the equivalent serving still comes in at 30% of daily calories, plus its saturated fat hits 134% of the daily max. Even the recommended serving (1/4 of the cheesecake) contains 80% of the allowable sat fat.
Then there’s Daiya’s sodium level, plus the fact that it’s a highly processed food. I’ve decided not to duplicate the ingredients list here because it’s so long, but if you’re interested you’ll find the ingredients on Daiya’s website.
I assume that because Daiya doesn’t provide numbers for many of the vitamins and minerals listed in the table, their Cheezecake probably doesn’t contain them. So that definitely gives The Cinn an edge in the nutrient department.
Compared with dairy cheesecakes, The Cinn contains more nutrients, more fiber, and no cholesterol.
While I don’t consider The Cinn a health food due to its high calories, fat content, and sugar, I feel it’s healthier than the alternatives. So for me, it’s something I would only eat occasionally in small quantities.
At this time, Spero Foods seems to be available only in the U.S. Here’s where you can buy it:
Retail stores You can also submit a request here for Spero to sell its products in a store near you.
Do you know another place to order Spero Foods? Put it in the comments below!
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by Karen Joslin
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