Examples of meat substitutes and what to do with them.

This salad is one of black beans, mixed lettuce, bean sprouts, fennel and smoked tofu, Smoked tofu tastes pretty much like bacon, which brings me to share with you the following:

Up to 2 months ago it wouldn’t occur to me to buy any meat substitute what so ever. Simply because of the fact that I don’t miss eating meat or fish at all. I was perfectly happy with my vegan lifestyle as it was. But ever since we watched the movie “What the Health” (which is now available on Netflix) that changed. I didn’t only share my feelings of shock on the Everyday Plantpower Facebook page after seeing this movie, I also told my children all about it. It made quite an impact on them, especially on the youngest. In fact he immediately decided that he wants to try to become vegan also. Obviously that made me very happy, it would mean that out of 4 children, 3 switched voluntarily to a more healthy lifestyle. It also meant however that I had to re-invent my cooking. Not only because now I had to prepare vegan food for 5 instead of 4 (meaning different quantities) and cook a separate meal for only one instead of two (which proves to be quite a challenge as it turns out). It also meant that I had to get even more creative, because not everybody likes the same vegetables or grains and I refuse to prepare six different meals every night. Also the boys do tend to miss their meat, or at least the idea of eating meat, so I thought I’d better get myself familiar with meat substitutes.

It opened up a whole new world to me. A world of seitan, tempeh, soy-flakes, vegan-burgers and of course tofu!

The easiest one in my opinion is the vegan-burger, very kids friendly. You can mix all kinds of grains, like quinoa or bulgur with beans and/or lentils, fresh herbs and vegetables like spinach and kale and they will not notice that they eat things that maybe they normally would decline.

Tempeh (the least of our favorites) I have prepared it twice, marinated in soy sauce (see my post of April 22, 2017)) but no one in my family warmed to the “earthy” taste, so I promised not the try that one anymore.

Since no one in my family suffers from a gluten allergy I was able to try Seitan as well. First we tried the ready made Gyros made of Seitan. The boys liked it very much, but when I tasted it I was a bit shocked about how salty it was. The other shock to me was the price of a small package (for two persons) is quite expensive and we are a large family! In principle I try to avoid packaged food, even if it is plantbased. I prefer to prepare our food myself as much as possible, that is the only way you can be sure of what is in there! So I decided to try to prepare the Seitan from scratch and then season it accordingly. I special- ordered glutenpowder, followed the instructions on the package (it was actually very simple to prepare) and thus was left with a large quantity of Seitan, ready to be made into vegan-shoarma. The kids looked in disgust at what came out of the pan.

Something that most resembles cooked brain or with a bit of imagination cauliflower, a bit grey…. They asked me what the **** was that supposed to be, and no way on earth were they going to eat that. I promised them it would be allright, barely able to hide my uncertainty…

But after cutting it into little strips, seasoning and frying it, it was unrecognizable. It absolutely looked like shoarma and it sure tasted like it!

The bag of gluten powder was almost as expensive as one package of prefab vegan Gyros (which was barely 400 grams). By making Seitan myself I was left with something near to a kilogram of “meat”. Kids happy and mom happy too!

Another thing I tried are Soy-flakes. They look a bit like cornflakes. You soak them before using and they are especially great for pasta. You can prepare them like you would prepare minced meat.

Combine it with macaroni (wholewheat!) for example. Macaroni with a vegan Bolognese sauce and vegan Parmigian sprinkled on top, 10 minutes in the oven makes the ultimate kids friendly meal!

And then of course there is Tofu. Tofu comes in several forms, there is silken Tofu, good for vegan mozzarella, for deserts etc. Normal firm Tofu, suitable for crispy meat strips with any seasoning you like.

Like this “crispy chicken” for my vegan Caesarsalade (see post June 9, 2017).

Especially this Caesar salad opened up another dimension of vegan-food-possibilities to me. So I started to explore a bit more and then I found smoked Tofu! I found in the organic shop close to home. The owner is always so nice and helpful, she also has a lot of knowledge and whenever I get stuck with not being able to find a product she helps out. (she also tipped me about the Soy-flakes)

When you open up this package, you smell bacon, you really do! My son jumped up and down with excitement!

So I combined lots of yummy stuff with this smoked Tofu (see opening sentence above) and turned it into a great summer’s salad. I can tell you it was as delicious as it looks!

Since Tofu , Soy-flakes and Tempeh are all made out of soy beans, do make sure to buy those made with organic soy beans. You can buy them in any supermarket and of course in organic stores!

I think I made it clear, even for the die-hard meat lovers there is lots to enjoy when living a plant-based live.

And my youngest you might wonder? Well he is not a full time vegan, yet! I told him to take his time, no pressure, no rush. Rome was not build in one day either! The fact that a 10 year old, cheese and meat loving boy is fully aware of the benefits of plantbased food, of its many possibilities and of the fact that he wants to give up on all animal protein is a major step forward. I am extremely proud of him. It is a matter of when rather than if….and that will do for now!

Have a great plant based week.