Punk Rawk Labs: A Dabble In Delicious, non-Dairy Cheese

Written by: Bonnie Feldman, DDS, MBA, Ellen M. Martin
Editorial help: Becca Malizia, BS, Hailey Motooka

It came as a pleasant surprise when I was first contacted by Alissa Barthel to discuss…cheese?

I was intrigued by her personal health story, which includes her own struggle with Autoimmune Disease. What was even more interesting was how she decided to respond to this struggle by combining her background in microbiology and her love of cooking to create Punk Rawk Labs – a woman owned and operated company based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team includes: Alissa Barthel, The Chef and Julie Wellman, The Record Store Owner.

Often times, people with Autoimmune Diseases must maintain restrictive diets in order to better manage chronic inflammation and food sensitivities. These food restrictions include having to cut out beloved food groups such as gluten and dairy products. However, with Punk Rawk Lab’s unique dairy free, nut-based cheese products, there is an alternative.

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In addition to being dairy free, their cheeses have added probiotics. They currently use Lactobacillus acidophilus as the culture and have 16 billion CFUs per serving of cheese! (That’s a lot of probiotics!) Setting them apart from many other non dairy cheese options, they actually naturally ferment their nut milks in a very similar way to traditional dairy fermentation, creating a delicious flavor and smooth texture. The addition of these probiotics, and the fermentation process of these nut milks help support the immune system instead of triggering inflammation.

Having dealt with an Autoimmune Disease myself for many years, I have been dairy free for quite a while. Yet, I still become nostalgic when I recall my trips to Paris where I tasted every rich and creamy variety of French cheese. I couldn’t wait to try out my new dairy free cheeses!

The only problem is, I don’t cook.  While I was busy working full time, changing careers multiple times- from Clinical Dentist to MBA Finance student to Finance Executive on Wall Street to Communications Professional- while also raising 4 active and demanding kids, something had to go.  For me this was cooking….

Luckily I raised children who did not take after me in the kitchen. I didn’t have to look far to find a collaborator in Elana Rosenthal, the creator of Vibrant Bites http://www.vibrantbites.com and https://www.instagram.com/vibrant_veg/, who happens to be my daughter and a much better judge of quality food! After experimenting with a few dishes, and sampling the cheese on its own, we both came to the same conclusion…

We love the Punk Rawk Labs cheese!

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source: giphy

When I first tasted the Smoked Nutmilk Cheese and the Nacho Nutmilk Cheese the texture reminded me of cream cheese.  It quickly became my go-to snack, spreading the different flavors on gluten free toast for breakfast and eating it with chips throughout the day.

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Surprisingly, I preferred the Nacho flavored cheese, which blended nicely with the vegetable juice that I drink for extra vitamin K. The nacho cheese also tasted yummy in vegetarian rice balls. It had just the right mix of creamy texture and some hot spice to bring out the best flavors in the rice balls.

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Although Punk Rawk Labs first started with nut milk cheese, they are constantly expanding their food products! Their newest feature item is a fantastic Shishito Gold Mustard, which inspired Elana to make an amazing salad dressing. Unlike our usual oil and vinegar, this dressing with the mustard had just the right combination of sweet and sour to bring out the flavor of the spinach, peaches and nuts (left image). She also made another salad with the herb cheese, white nectarines, cucumbers, cashews and microgreens (right image).

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As a novice in the kitchen, the overall process of experimenting with my daughter and different recipes to incorporate the cheeses was thrilling! As a result I once again was able to indulge in ‘cheese’ without having to worry about the consequences. Whether you are avoiding dairy or not, these products are a tasty option for all people. Try out their various cheese and mustard products here!

Enter code- DRBONNIE to get 25% off!

What excites me most about Punk Rawk Labs and similar companies, is that they provide hope for the millions of people suffering from Autoimmune Diseases who may no longer have to make drastic lifestyle changes and can continue to enjoy the foods they love.  

I become inspired by people such as Alissa, who have taken their personal struggle as motivation to come up with solutions that benefit the overall population. It is companies like  Punk Rawk Labs, that provide people with the opportunity to continue to live their lives in the healthiest, and most delicious ways possible, regardless of the obstacles.


  1. Get 25% off until the end of the month on your Punk Rawk Labs products by entering code- DRBONNIE
  2. Learn more about the microbiome- both oral and gut in our other posts here
  3. Read about Prebiotics, Probiotics and food in our new post here
  4. Discover another amazing female owned and operated company- Hyperbiotics here


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