Easy Vegetarian Transition: My Top Four Meat Substitutes
I am by no means a vegetarian BUT I do monitor what I eat, specifically my meat intake. Everyone has their own personal reasons for doing what they do and eating what they eat and I have chosen to slowly wean myself off of meat because at times it becomes hard to digest, specifically beef. So I took it upon myself to make a slow (and at times challenging) transition away from meat and have shared my top four meat substitutes that are in heavy rotation at my home.
Frieda’s SoyRizo (Vegan Soy Chorizo – $3.98) was the first true substitute we tried as I was looking for something to make our breakfast tacos more hearty and filling. Living in Texas, Chorizo is a staple in breakfast tacos and I have grown quite fond of it. The consistency when browning the SoyRizo may throw you for a loop as it doesn’t crumble as easily as the real thing. I actually threw out my first small batch because I figured I had ruined it, but I hadn’t. When cooking with this item you will need to brown it for 5+ minutes with a little olive oil, then you will begin to see the resemblance.
Quick Usage Ideas
Squeeze the Soyrizo™ from the casing and place in a non-stick pan with a tiny amount of oil until warm. (The casing is plastic and not edible.) The more you heat Soyrizo™, the drier it becomes. Mix it with scrambled eggs, hash browns, or use in omelets or chili.
Artisan ToFurkey ($5.69) – This is great in red beans and rice, though I haven’t tried all flavors — only the Andouille/Cajun Style. The addition of roasted poblano peppers and wheat berries give it great texture and flavor. Artisan ToFurkey contains no GMO’s, MSG or Artificial flavoring and is made with only Organic Soybeans or tofu. Click here for tasty Tofurkey recipes from Turtle Island Foods, inc.
Banyan Soy Tofu ($1.78) – Tofu gets a bad rap and often falls victim to slander by people who haven’t even tried it. Well, I am here to tell you that Soy Tofu is awesome. What I love most (besides the price) is that really, unless you are being a “Soy Sucka”, you can’t tell it’s not meat as it takes on the flavor of whatever it’s prepared with. I made 4 alarm tofu chili and with all the spices and heat from the chili ingredients my friends and family had no idea it wasn’t ground beef.
There are a couple tricks to ensure that you properly prepare the tofu.
- CONSISTENCY: Tofu is sold in (3) forms: Soft, Medium and Hard. I find that the more firm the tofu the closer the texture is to that of meat.
- PREP: If you are using sealed tofu (i.e. Banyan) that contains a liquid you must drain the liquid and the tofu. I place 2 paper towels under the tofu block and 2 on top. Gently press down until the bulk of the moisture has been absorbed into the paper towels and the tofu appears drier. This assists with the crumble of the tofu and that’s the texture to look for if using in place of ground meats.
- RECIPES: I prefer to substitute tofu in meals that contain rich spices and bold flavors like chili’s, curries and Pad Thai’s. Momma Chiu has great Tofu recipes!
Frieda’s Organic Polenta – My husband actually brought this product home for one of his Sunday meal prep recipes. I believe he prepared a polenta and spinach lasagna that was delicious. I decided to make a polenta and eggplant trifle with fresh tomatoes. I like the texture of cooked polenta, like polenta cakes, they are really tasty to me. I also like savory polenta grits with cheddar cheese.
This particular Polenta comes in various flavors like: Traditional, Green Chile & Cilantro, Basil & Garlic, Sun Dried Tomato & Garlic, and Mushroom & Onion. I use the traditional mostly as I like to add my own flavors to it.
Quick Usage Ideas
Slice polenta and broil, pan heat or microwave for individual appetizers, use instead of pasta with sauces, or layer with grilled vegetables and cheese for polenta lasagna.
Grocery stores are jam packed with beautiful fruits and vegetables that really assist in filling that “meat” void that some folks believe they need, but for those of you that get all freaked out when backed into a corner with nothing but veggies these “meat” substitutes should really help you. If we can ever be of assistance don’t hesitate to comment.
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