Meat Alternatives So Delicious You’ll Never Know the Difference
- Lauren Hamer
- 3 Min Read
What if we told you there was a way to satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters at your next meal? Believe it or not, there are convincing meat alternatives packed with protein. The Mayo Clinic offers tips for staying healthy on a vegetarian diet, such as a varied diet with all the nutrients your body needs. These ten meat-free protein alternatives do just that. They’ll satisfy vegetarians while enthralling the most steadfast carnivores, keeping energy levels up and hungry bellies at bay.
An (S)BLT is a lunch-time classic with a trendy twist. Crispy fried bacon gets a meatless remodel using hearty shiitake mushrooms, juicy tomatoes, and crunchy lettuce on toasted bread. For a little extra protein, consider adding avocado slices and flavored mayo to the mix.
Black-Bean Veggie Burger
Wildly popular meals, like the hamburger, easily double as incognito faux-meat dishes with a few modifications. Feast your eyes on this vegetarian burger using black beans and corn as protein alternatives. It’s spiced with cumin, pepper, scallions, and vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce. Top it off with pepper-jack cheese, tomato, and bibb lettuce between two whole-wheat buns.
Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls
Your Italian grandma called, and she’s bringing dinner—spaghetti and “meat” balls. But these meatballs are packed with textured protein alternatives like tofu and bulgur wheat that are masked underneath Italian flavor. Build them up with bread crumbs, egg, and wild rice. And then enjoy with tomato sauce and serve with whole-grain pasta.
When you opt for a salad at lunch time, light lettuce just won’t do. But a power-up salad hits the protein trifecta. Nuts, beans, and quinoa give your mixed greens a necessary upgrade along with roasted spiced almonds, kidney beans, chickpeas, quinoa, and red onion. Customize your personal salad-turned-meal with sunflower seeds, wheat berries, and a light dressing. It’s vegan, filling, and pretty to look at.
Traditional Barbecue and Fixins’
Who says you can’t do classic barbecue without meat? Substitute traditional pulled pork with barbecued tempeh, a sturdier meat alternative made of fermented soybeans. Its texture begs to be slathered with barbecue sauce and thrown on a hot grill for flavor. Combine this dish with tender greens, couscous, coleslaw, or other time-tested barbecue fixins’ and no one will ever know it’s vegetarian.
Lentil and Vegetable Curry
This warm and comforting lentil and mixed vegetable curry will satisfy countless dietary restrictions. Red lentils take the place of meat, but you won’t miss it. Load it up with cups of chopped red peppers, carrots, cabbages, and broccoli. And then add edamame and traditional Indian spices. This curry is best made in batches and is tasty enough to feed a hungry crowd.
Stuffed Peppers, Two Ways
Stuffed peppers are ultra-satisfying with ground beef. But they become extra delicious when filled with potatoes or quinoa. And the protein alternatives are virtually undetectable in the finished dish. Try it two different ways. Mix a baked sweet potato with brown rice and spinach for a healthy, one-stop meal or infuse a southwestern flair using black beans, corn, and quinoa.
Crispy Tofu Spring Rolls
Asian spring rolls may often contain fish sauce and shrimp paste. But you can elevate the flavor profile by marinating tofu in brown sugar and soy sauce instead. Pack in julienned cabbage, bean sprouts, carrots, scallions, and shiitake mushrooms into rice paper rolls, too. Deep fry the rolls for added crunch and color. Dunk into garlic soy sauce or spicy peanut sauce for a delicious one-bite meal.
Quinoa-Crusted Tofu with Parmesan
Tofu isn’t exactly undetectable to the trained carnivorous eye. But it can be prepared in a way that’s darn delicious to any eater. Combine nutritional yeast and cashews for a vegan-friendly parmesan cheese crust that adds much needed texture to your extra-firm tofu. Spice it up with garlic, salt, and pepper for crunchy bites that serve as an appetizer or a main dish drizzled with marinara sauce.
Buffalo Chickpea Pizza
Your next catered meal can be become a non-traditional pizza party by selecting a few protein alternatives as toppings. Revamp buffalo chicken pizza with buffalo chickpeas for a tangy and filling alternative. For an added kick, try Sriracha barbecue tofu and pepper jack to combine traditional toppings with trendy meat alternatives. It may take people a minute to realize they’re not actually eating a meat-lovers pizza.
Vegetarian Pad Thai
Thanks to a lack of cheese, Asian dishes like pad thai are often vegan and dairy-free. Tofu and other hearty meat alternatives like bean sprouts and nuts marinate in a bowl of soy sauce, chili sauce, and garlic that makes any mouth water. Add in carrots, peanuts, cilantro, and noodles to provide a come-back-for-seconds menu option.
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