The number of people that are eliminating meat from the diet is increasing on a daily basis, however many get stuck when looking for something to replace the protein. There are many other sources of protein, some that mimic the texture and taste of meat and some that are completely independent in nature. It is proven that having variety with new food choices helps to keep the subject of the lifestyle change motivated and empowered, making them less likely to give up on the healthy lifestyle. Below, are seven different meat substitute options for anyone looking to transition to a vegetarian diet.
1. Tofu is a bean curd made from soy milk that can either be silken, soft, medium, or firm in texture depending on the preparation. Its almost non-existent flavor leaves it a very flexible source of protein as it sucks up whatever flavor it’s cooked with. Silken tofu can be used in smoothies, pies, yogurts, soups, and other soft foods. Medium and firm tofu’s tend to be used more like meat would be used; cut into cubes, strips, or crumbled. Tofu can be used in many types of recipes from stir fry to egg scrambles. When purchasing tofu, however, look for organic and non-GMO (genetically modified).
2. Tempeh is a soy product that is made from cooked and fermented soybeans that are then molded into patties. Rich in iron, calcium, and B 12 this product is great for substituting in fish and chicken dishes.
3. Textured Vegetable Protein (also called TVP) is a high protein, high fiber protein substitute made from soy flour. It is available in a variety of flavored and unflavored varieties as well as sizes from flakes to large chunks. TVP is typically used in recipes that call for ground meats such as pastas, soups, and stews. TVP is usually purchased dry which requires that it is soaked for 10 minutes to be reconstituted. Next time you are making spaghetti and meat sauce or meat chili, try using TVP instead of your typical ground meat.
4. Seitan, also called wheat meat, has a chewy texture very similar to chicken. It’s high protein and soy free content make it great for those who may be allergic to soy products. Seitan can be used in almost any recipe. It’s porous nature helps it to absorb flavors easily. However, people who are wheat or gluten allergic should avoid this meat substitute.
5. Portobello Mushrooms are a surprisingly great substitute for steak. Their thick, juicy, and meaty texture mimic the tenderness that a cut of steak might have. Portobellos are great for grilling, and will soak up marinades and sauces very well. They are also low in cholesterol and have a great nutritional value. Besides using portobello mushrooms in place of steak, they can also be used in stir fry’s, casseroles, and soups.
6. Bulgur Wheat is a whole wheat grain that is rich in potassium, iron, and is low on the glycemic index. Bulgar is typically used to make tabouli, but is also great for making vegetarian sausages and meatloaf. It easily absorbs the flavor of whatever seasoning you use. Bulgur can also be used in soups to give texture as well. Next time you want a hearty vegetarian breakfast, try bulgur wheat sausages with a side of southwestern scrambled tofu.
7. Legumes, such as beans, lentils, and peas are great sources of protein and can be used in a variety of recipes for a meal packed with folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Beans and lentils can be made into patties and burgers, and go well with all types of sauces and spices. Beans & peas can also be used in stews, soups and with rice. Lentils are particularly great made with curry. Next time you are craving a burger, try a black bean or lentil burger and top it with a tasty chutney of your choice!
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