Favorite Meat Substitutes

When people tell me that they descend from hunters and therefore are primarily carnivores, I remind them that those ancestors were hunter-gatherers. They hunted, yes, but what they ended up eating most of the time were roots, berries, nuts, and other plant foods. Occasionally, they got lucky and trapped an animal and feasted on its meat until it ran out or started to smell bad.
Non-vegetarians tend to worry about not getting enough protein in Main-VegStewan all-vegetarian meal. For many people in today’s busy world, building a meal around a piece of meat has become a habit and an easy way of assuring that you’re getting a “complete” protein. With the abundance of meat substitutes now available in most markets, creating a well-balanced, all vegetarian meal is easier than ever.
So what should you look for? Look for products that don’t have a ton of ingredients. Seitan is one of those products, made from wheat gluten (which is wheat protein), and comes with different seasonings and can be substituted for beef or chicken. Add it to a stir-fry, a hearty stew or rice dish (e.g. jambalaya or paella).
Soy products have been around for a long time and include tofu and tempeh. Tempeh is a fermented product and easier to digest than tofu. It comes in a firm cake, which can be steamed for a few minutes, then chopped and mixed with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and chopped garlic, and included in a stir-fry or rice dish. Look for organic soy products, which do not contain GMOs.
Quorn (www.quorn.us) has been a favorite of mine, very versatile and adaptable. You’ll find it in the frozen section of upscale markets, and it comes in “chicken” strips and tenders. The consistency and texture are very convincing and provide a great substitute for chicken. My all-time favorite recipes for Quorn are Mexican dishes, such as enchiladas or posole, as well as Spanish paella or jambalaya. Just make sure you don’t sear the strips – none of the faux meats taste good when seared.
Stay tuned for our blog about Field Roast (www.fieldroast.com) products!

Easy Thanksgiving Side Dishes

A friend once asked me “As a vegetarian, what do you eat at Thanksgiving if you don’t eat turkey?” and I replied “Everything else”. Everything else can be just as satisfying, especially if you plan side dishes with plenty of variety. Here are a couple sides that can be prepared a day or so in advance.
Oven-roasted vegetables are easy and quick, and can include carrots, GrilledRootsyams, squash, and beets. Did you know that delicata squash doesn’t need peeling? Cut length-wise down the middle and into ½-inch half-rounds, toss in olive oil, add a little salt and smoked paprika and place in a hot oven (425 deg.) until cooked and lightly browned. Roasted vegetables can be served at room temperature, with a splash of good balsamic and some extra virgin olive oil, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs (thyme or marjoram).
Pearl couscous (aka Israeli couscous) makes a wonderful grain dish – cook according to directions, add white balsamic vinegar and olive oil, raw veggies cut small (sugar snap peas, green onion, tomato, cucumber, cilantro) and orange zest. Your vegetarian friends will appreciate a legume, let’s say chick peas, for a well rounded meal. Buy them cooked in a can (edenfoods.com) or dried (ranchogordo.com), toss cooked beans with a light vinaigrette, green onion, cilantro, tomato, feta, olives. Our Thanksgiving always includes everyone’s favorite lentil salad. Choose French or Beluga lentils, cook according to directions (no salt); drain and toss with garlicky vinaigrette. Once lentils have cooled, add some finely chopped green onion and walnuts.
Eat, enjoy – and be thankful for all your blessings!