Swap the Meat for Whole Plant Substitutes

 A common tendency among people transitioning to a whole food, plant-based diet is to find those delicious recipes or meals that include a meat substitute.  I understand why people would crave the one thing that was the center of their dinner plate for decades.  It’s likely you are missing the flavor, texture, and colors of meat, which fake meat products mimic.  The biggest concerns with many of these products, however, are the isolated soy proteins, textured protein, excessive use of oils, and salts they contain.  You have to pick your battles if you are using these products, but here are some guidelines I use when choosing to play around in the fake meat arena.

  • Avoid products with soy protein isolate and textured vegetable protein. Both of these ingredients are highly processed.
  • Check for added oils. Oftentimes fake meat products are loaded with oils to enhance flavor and mouth feel.
  • Sodium is a big issue with many of these products since they are often extremely high in salt.

Minimally Processed Fake Meat Alternatives:

  • Baked tofu or tempeh. Marinate and roast these products in a 400° oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat until they are golden and dry around the edges. (Convection ovens work great here.) 
  • Try a variety of mushrooms. Shitake mushrooms specifically offer a chewy/meaty texture and are great at absorbing flavors. Slice them, chop them or grill them whole.  Mushrooms make wonderful gravies too. 

  • Green jackfruit or young green jackfruit can take on the appearance and texture of meat when it is cooked. I love to slow cook green jackfruit or roast young green jackfruit. I doesn’t have a strong flavor so it takes on the flavor of what you add to it. 

  • Butler soy curls are 100% soybeans and when hydrated they are very meaty and chewy. We like to hydrate and then marinate soy curls in a BBQ sauce or chop them for a mock chicken salad sandwich. You can order soy curls directly from the company http://www.butlerfoods.com/ They even provide some delicious recipes. 
  • Finely chop cauliflower into rice sized pieces and season with your favorite spice blend. I like to use my food processor for speed, but now you can buy riced cauliflower frozen or in your produce department.  Roast the cauliflower in a 400° oven on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  When the cauliflower is dry and golden, serve it with tacos, on pizza, or as a salad topper. 

  • Artichokes and beans make great sandwich fillings. Chop or smash them well, add your favorite oil-free mayo, celery, pickles, onions, and spices.  For a “fish” flavor add a some chopped nori sheets!

  • Wheat bulgur and lentils are perfect ground beef substitutes for soups, stews, and chili.

Here are some great whole food plant-based recipes using these substitutes:

Chickenless Baked Taquitos
Tofu Cashew Mayonnaise
Teriyaki Tempeh Sandwiches
Bourbon Mushrooms
BBQ Jackfruit
Roasted Green Jackfruit Taco Style
Soy Curl or Chick Pea Salad
Cauliflower Walnut Tacos
Fishless Sticks
Build A Burger


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