As awareness for the sustainability of our planet continues to grow, more and more Americans are choosing to leave meat off their plates. Annual meat consumption rates are falling and the plant-based protein market continues to disrupt what we traditionally see on our grocery store shelves.
Over 7 million Americans claim to be vegetarian, and an additional 22 million say they prefer a flexitarian diet when it comes to giving up meat completely. Replacing animal-based foods with plant-based proteins is a smart way to eat flexibly. So if you still want to eat a steak occasionally, meat free eating has expanded into something much more flexible giving everyone an opportunity to choose health-filled, sustainable meals without giving up animal protein completely.
Soyfoods can easily be swapped into almost any meal to add nutrients and soy-based protein for a heart-healthy meat alternative to your favorite recipe. Tofu is just one example of a soyfood that is versatile enough to be substituted into your favorite meat dish. You can even use tofu to replace the ricotta in your lasagna or the cream in your pumkin soup!
Whether you’re preparing a family dinner, entertaining guests, or cooking for one, adding soyfoods to your classic dishes is an easy way to incorporate a more heart-healthy, nutirent rich, low fat menu into your everyday diet.
Try these delicious, easy ideas for swapping nutricious, heart-healthy soyfoods into your weekly menus.
Tofu can be added to or substituted for meat in a variety of dishes. Ready-to-eat, marinated tofu is often available in the refrigerated section of your grocery store and is great for easy-to-prepare meals.
- Try freezing marinated tofu before cooking to enhance the flavors, making it an excellent addition to chili, pot pies and lasagna.
- Silken, soft and pourable tofu is a great swap to use in mousse, pie, pudding, or even soup.
- Use firm or extra-firm tofu instead of meat for baking, grilling, sauteing, or frying. Using a tofu press to squeeze the moisture out of a block of tofu will give it a firmer, meatier texture.
Soy Crumbles and Other Meat Alternatives
Keeping soy-based meat alternatives in your pantry or freezer is a perfect way to solve the inevitable “what’s for dinner?” quandary, allowing for a quick, easy meal that is both healthy and delicious.
- Soy crumbles are a great substitute for your favorite chili, spaghetti sauce, or tacos, and they contain 75% less fat than regular ground beef crumbles.
- Veggie burgers are offered in a wide variety of flavors and textures. For the most meat-like, Morningstar Farms Grillers are full of classic, char-grilled burger flavor and contain 57% less fat than regular ground beef.
- Textured soy protein (TSP), also known as textured vegetable protein (TVP), when re-hydrated resembles cooked ground beef or poultry in texture and may be used alone or with meats to make a wide variety of recipes.
Soymilk easily substitutes for dairy milk in any recipe and has more protein than all other dairy milk alternatives. Containing fewer calories than both 2% and whole dairy milk, not only is soymilk a complete protein, but it is also equivalent to dairy milk in calcium, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, soymilk contains the omega-3 fatty acid ALA, which is not found in dairy milk.
- Add soymilk or soy yogurt to your smoothies for a delicious heart-healthy, protein rich breakfast.
- For sauces, gravies, soups and other savory dishes, plain, un-sweetened soymilk is an easy substitute.
- Because soymilk is low in saturated fat, it might not set properly in gelatin- or pudding-based desserts. Adding a thickener like cornstarch will give it the consistency you are after.
If your recipe calls for a dairy product, a soy substitute will give you the same creamy texture with less saturated fat and no cholesterol. Soyfood alternatives can be found for a variety of dairy-free foods including cream cheese, yogurts and coffee creamers.
- Try soy yogurt in dips, toppings, and garnishes or as an ingredient substitute in baked goods.
- Have a favorite cheesecake recipe or cream cheese frosting. Soy cream cheese works well in all types of recipes, including those that involve cooking and baking.
- Soy-based ice cream and frozen desserts are always a healthy alternative to dairy ice cream any time of the day!
Edamame, or young soybeans, are a fun, easy to eat snack that is delicious eaten steamed or straight from the shell. It can easily be substituted for other beans in your favorite recipes. Because it is a complete protein, edamame naturally has a higher level of protein than other bean alternatives.
- Use edamame when preparing your favorite bean salad or stew.
- Edamame can replace garbanzo beans in hummus or white beans for a delicious bean spread.
- Sprinkle edamame on a salad instead of nuts to add a little extra crunch.
Soy Nut Butter
Soy nut butter is a great substitute for any nut butter, often containing less saturated fat and more protein than other nut butter choices.
- Use soy nut butter instead of peanut butter for peanut-free satay sauce.
- For an extra creamy spread, whip soy nut butter with some silky tofu.
- Warm soy nut butter up and use as a great dip for pretzels and vegetables.
Because it can be used wtih just about any cooking method, tempeh is a great meat alternative. Use moist heat methods such as simmering, boiling and steaming, or dry heat methods like baking, broiling, grilling, sauteing and frying to prepare tempeh.
- Pre-cooked tempeh (most commonly found in grocery stores) can be added raw to sandwiches or recipes, or cooked to change its texture and flavors.
- Thinly slicing tempeh and then grilling or frying it will bring out its naturally nutty flavor.
- Mix chopped tempeh with mayonnaise, grapes and celery to create “chicken” salad.
- Use tempeh to replace the beef in sloppy joes by sauteing it with onions and green pepper and seasoning it with chili powder, cumin and garlic powder.
Because miso is a fermented product, it adds a cheese-like flavor to many foods. It also acts as an emulsifier. Akamiso, also known as red miso, has a robust, meaty flavor that you get with veal or beef stock and can be used for hearty soups and gravies. Shiromiso, a “white miso” is less salty and much sweeter, making it especially good for mild-flavored fish and vegetables. Hatcho miso, strictly a pure soybean paste, is both savory-tart and mildly sweet.
- To add a little zing to your veggies, use miso to create a “cheesy” sauce to go over steamed vegetables.
- Instead of mustard in vinaigrette, try a little white or red miso.
- Add red miso to long-cooking tomato sauce for a richer, meatier flavor.