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Meat substitutes pass the taste test

CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE
CAN'T TELL THE DIFFERENCE
You can call it mock meat. Fake steak. Pretend pork. Faux franks. Truth is, many meat substitutes are remarkably close in appearance and taste to the original. In fact, a recent test of these products produced encouraging results.

The most believable of the bunch might be the hot dogs. The vegetarian version, made from soy, actually has more protein than meat dogs. Top that veggie wiener with mustard and vegetarian coney sauce and most folks won't notice the difference.
One remarkably tasty mock meat is the "chicken" nugget from Quorn Foods Inc. The seasoned coating crisped nicely in the toaster oven, and the "meat" was similar in texture to chicken.

Another substitute is pre-seasoned taco "meat." Good flavor and texture. And let's face it, after you pile on the lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and salsa, your family will never suspect you've switched.

There are also vegetarian versions of bacon, pepperoni, steak and chicken tenders. It would be understandable if you omnivores were to ask: "Why should anyone besides an avowed vegetarian eat mock meat?"

Because the vegetarian versions have less fat, fewer calories, no cholesterol, and often, more protein and fiber.

Many of the foods tested were Quorn products from Marlow Foods Ltd., found at health-food stores and some grocery stores. They are not made from soy of textured vegetable protein (also called TVP), but from mycoprotein. What's that?

Fungus.

Now don't freak out. It's from the same family as mushrooms and truffles. The best thing about mycoprotein is the texture - it's very meatlike. I used the Quorn Grounds (looks like crumbled ground beef) to make coney sauce, chili and sloppy joes, and was satisfied with all of them.

With swimsuit season looming, you have at least one reason to try out these healthful products and recipes.

SLOPPY JOSEPHS

1 tablespoon oil (or 1/4 cup water for low-fat version)

1 celery stalk, sliced

1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1 small garlic clove, pressed or minced

1 1/2 cups meat-free crumbles

About 1/4 cup ketchup

1 tablespoon mustard

Hot sauce, optional

Salt and pepper, optional

Yields 2 sandwiches.

Place oil in small frying pan over medium-high heat and saute celery, bell pepper, onion and garlic until vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Drain.

Add meat substitute. Add ketchup and mustard until you like the "sloppiness." Stir. If dry, add a couple of tablespoons water.

Stir well, heat through. Serve on buns.

CHILI

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon fresh jalapeno pepper, minced (optional)

1 package Quorn Grounds

1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin

1 (7.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained

Salt and pepper, to taste

Cooked rice, for serving

Yields 4 servings.

Place oil in large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and saute onion, 4 to 5 minutes or until softened. Add jalapeno peppers, Quorn Grounds, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder and cumin. Reduce heat; simmer 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in kidney beans, season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve over cooked rice, if desired.

QUORN MEDITERRANEAN WRAPS

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon oregano

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 red onion, sliced

1 red pepper, cut into thick strips

1 yellow pepper, cut into thick strips

1 small eggplant, cut into 8 (1/2-inch thick) slices

2 small zucchini, cut into 8 long, 1/4 inch thick slices

4 Quorn Naked Cutlets, cooked per package directions, sliced into strips

4 large tortillas, any flavor

1/4 cup shredded cheese

1 cup arugula leaves, washed, dried

Yields 4 large wraps.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine oil, mustard, honey, vinegar, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl. Mix well to make dressing. Toss onion, peppers, eggplant and zucchini with oil mixture to coat; remove from oil mixture (reserve remaining mixture).

Place vegetables on baking sheet. Roast in oven 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, or grill on barbecue over hot coals until just charred. Keep warm.

To assemble wraps: Place 1 cooked, sliced Quorn Cutlet in center of each tortilla. Top with 1/4 of cooked vegetables. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cheese and 1/4 of the arugula leaves. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Drizzle each with some reserved dressing; roll tightly. To serve, cut each wrap in half diagonally, secure with toothpicks.
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