Swapping Veggie Alternatives For Meat

Tofu, Seitan and Tempeh

While meat can be a great source of protein, the meals we make with it often contain extra fat and sodium. Did you know there are several meals where swapping out meat for a vegetable-based alternative will go largely unnoticed? Many ethnic dishes such as Mexican food, Italian food, and Chinese food are great places to give this a try. These dishes typically have less of an emphasis on meat than many American meals. They are also packed with strong spices like cumin, basil, and ginger. But before you swap out your taco beef for veggie burger crumbles, let's take a look at the 3 common meat substitutes you'll find in the grocery store.

Tofu - This is typically the first product people think of when meat substitution comes up. This soybean based food comes in several varieties and flavors. At its base, tofu is flavorless, but it can easily take on the flavors of other ingredients. Different levels of firmness are available from silken (which is great in smoothies) all the way up to extra firm. Chinese stir-fry in particular tastes great when chicken is swapped for tofu, especially if it is General Tso's.

Tempeh - Commonly used in restaurants, tempeh is also soy-based but is very firm in texture. Tempeh makes great veggie burger patties for the grill and is also wonderful on pizza or in lasagna. Most grocers keep tempeh in the refrigerated organic section, typically near the tofu.

Seitan - Affectionately known as the "wheat-meat," seitan is high in protein and an excellent substitute for chicken in curry recipes. Seitan is also easy to make from-scratch at home. Clients with wheat gluten allergies should avoid seitan because it is primarily cooked wheat gluten.

During your next trip to the store, check out the vegetarian section and give one of these healthy substitutes a try!


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