Meatless Protein Power
WHY GO MEATLESS?
Eating less meat is good for both your body and the environment. Meat substitutes are generally lower in fat & overall calories and eliminating red & processed meats from your diet helps to reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Your body works harder to digest meat, so going meatless helps to aid digestion, increases nutrient absorption, and ultimately boosts your energy. Especially during the summer months, feeling lighter and more active is a benefit! Meat substitutes can also supply additional nutrients that may not be found in meat, such as probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Livestock production contributes an estimated 14.5% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the entire transportation sector! Animal agriculture is also responsible for about 70% of world’s freshwater use.
WHERE DO I START?
There’s so many meat substitutes and meatless meals on the market that it can be overwhelming. As a general rule, pay attention to ingredients and how processed a product is. Remember “meatless” doesn’t always mean a product is vegan. Many meatless products include eggs and dairy. We’re discussing three basic, minimally processed, protein sources below. Working with these ingredients is like starting with a blank canvas- they’ll take on any flavor you give them! What it comes down to is preparation and we’ve narrowed down some techniques that will have you wanting more! All can be found in the protein-substitute section of your supermarket, usually near the produce.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a compact cake. 1/2 cup of tempeh contains 160 calories, 8.5 grams of fat, 6.5 grams of carbohydrates, and 17 grams of protein. Like other fermented foods, tempeh is rich in probiotics, which are a type of beneficial bacteria found in your digestive tract. It’s high in fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and soy isoflavones that help lower cholesterol levels.
Tempeh has a slightly nutty taste, but takes on the flavor of your marinade or seasoning, and can be easily crumbled, sliced, sautéed or baked. Its meaty texture holds up well to sauces.
* Be sure to read your labels- if you’re gluten free, be aware that tempeh is sometimes made with barley!
1 package tempeh
2 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp light brown sugar
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp ground mustard
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp Worcestertshire sauce
1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Cut tempeh into 1 inch thick slices.
3. In a small pot, combine BBQ sauce ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes over medium heat.
4. Brush tempeh slices with BBQ sauce- be sure to cover every side!
5. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
6. Uncover tempeh and broil for another 5 minutes.
7. Brush remaining BBQ sauce on tempeh sticks before serving.
Tofu is from soaking and cooking soybeans, and then formed into a white cube through coagulation. Tofu is low in carbohydrates, saturated fat, and cholesterol. ½ cup of tofu contains 234 calories, 14 grams of fat, 4.4 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of protein, and about 50% of your daily calcium needs.
Use silken tofu for smoothies and firm tofu for stews, curries, grilling, and pan-frying. Be sure to pay your tofu dry before using!
1 block extra firm tofu, roughly cubed
1 cup flour
1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp hot sauce (optional)
3/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. Ensure tofu is drained by pressing between 2 towels.
2. Cut tofu into cubes
3. Mix vinegar, milk, and hot sauce in a bowl
4. Mix breadcrumbs and seasoning in a separate bowl
5. Measure flour into a separate bowl.
6. Dip tofu cubes into milk mixture, followed by flour, followed by breadcrumbs. For extra coating, dip tofu into milk and flour twice, and then the breadcrumbs
7. Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Pan fry each side of tofu until golden brown- about 3-4 minutes per side. Be sure to turn tofu on its side to brown the edges too!
Not for the gluten intolerant, Seitan is made from wheat gluten, the protein in wheat. It’s made by adding water to wheat flour and removing the starch. ½ cup of seitan contains 162 calories, 6.8 grams of carbohydrates, and 31 grams of protein.
Seitan is a convenient substitute because it’s chewy like beef and its neutral taste can be easily seasoned.
1 package seitan
3 Tbsp olive oil
5 garlic cloves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt
1. Slice seitan into ¼ inch thick slices. If it crumbles, that’s ok- you can still work with it!
2. Whisk together remaining ingredients and marinate seitan for 30 minutes.
3. Over medium heat, cook seitan until browned- about 4-5 minutes each side.
4. Let cool and assemble gyro with lettuce, red onion, tomato, and tzatziki (store bought or homemade).
½ cup greek yogurt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp parsley, minced
⅗ cup cucumber, shredded and
¼ tsp sea salt
1. Squeeze excess water from cucumber.
2. Mix all ingredients.