frugal fake meat (i.e. meat substitutes that could maybe pass for meat)
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  1. #1
    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    Default frugal fake meat (i.e. meat substitutes that could maybe pass for meat)

    So right off the bat, I want to state that I am not vegetarian or vegan. We are trying to eat more meatless meals because my husband is trying to reduce the amount of cholesterol he eats. Also, I do not eat dairy because I am lactose intolerant. We are not attempting to go completely vegan.

    And yes we do beans and tofu. But I am also looking something that will seem meaty.

    Anyway, we have tried some of the basic brands of "burgers" and "sausage." Some of them are pretty good (others not so much). But price wise these tend to be as much or more than meat even though it is made with beans and grains and other ingredients that should be cheaper than meat. Of course they are adding flavoring and things in as well. A seasoned food is almost always more than a plain food. For example, plain rice is much cheaper than rice mixes with seasoning added.

    So I am looking to see if we can find some "plain" ones, I can add my own seasoning to. I am looking especially on things I can get online. As far as I can tell TVP and Soy curls expand in water/broth. So 8 ounces actually gets you more than 8 ounces.

    Has anyone tried these? Is there any interest in trying these and posting there results?

    TVP: textured vegetable protein. It is supposed to substitute for ground meat. Looks fairly easy to get. Reasonably priced and shelf stable so it can be shipped through the mail
    Soy curls: another shelf stable product I can get reasonably priced online.
    Tempeh: supposed to be really healthy but most versions are not shelf stable. The ones that are seem pricey. You can buy a starter kit and make your own. It is a fermented food so it is a little dicey. You could wind up with something pretty bad if it goes wrong.
    Seitan: This is another must be kept refrigerated product. However it does not look that complicated to make. And not that expensive to make.

    My search is also showing up bags of pea protein powder. Maybe I could do something with them. I googled recipes and am seeing it in deserts. Maybe you do not taste the peas? It sounds unappetizing.

    On a related note, we discovered Barilla brand lentil pasta - pasta made entirely of red lentil flour. It tastes surprisingly like regular pasta.

    I am really trying for something that does not take more prep time than meat dishes. My husband and I both work with long commutes. Most of our food is homemade already. But it tends to be simple homemade. I don't want to add a lot to our meal prep time.
    KathyB

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Yes, I have found imitation foods to be more expensive than the real thing, the cost reflects the effort in processing and the relatively small market. I'm also lactose intolerant and I've tried the fake dairy and none of it is very good so I mostly shifted to leaving it out of my diet.

    SD and I have already talked about falafel in other threads. It's a chickpea and veggie patty, or "meatball". You can make a batch in the food processor and freeze them. I bake a sheet pan worth and portion them out for later. They do not have to be fried.

    You can do something similar with bulgur and lentils: https://foolproofliving.com/bulgur-a...-vegan-burger/

    Tofu is generally available and not expensive, though it requires refrigeration (it also freezes) but I find it works better as filler (toss it in soup or fried rice) not as a main dish (ie tofu "steaks").

    I have no experience with those other products.
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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    We love portobello burgers. They could not be easier to make, and you can season them any way you like. You cook them the same way as meat burgers and can use the same condiments and toppings. They're filling and so good.

    We also like falafel, which is sort of a bean patty made with chick peas. Those can be seasoned as you like also.

    Wild rice is filling and has a lot of protein. It cooks the same as brown rice so the 2 can be cooked together. Both can also be frozen.

    The problem I've found with premade mixes or patties, etc, is they are all so dang high in sodium, also hazardous to most people's health.

    Check Pinterest for all sorts of recipes including seasoning mixes, vegan and vegetarian, whatever you like. There are clone recipes for seasonings and other premade mixes. Of course, some are better than others but worth a try. I've found all kinds of good stuff lately, and a bunch of stuff I haven't tried yet.

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    Just a caution that a lot of the grain-free dog foods began using pea and other legume flours to replace the grains. Then dogs started coming down with cardiomyopathy. So far there seems to be a link when it is used in HIGH AMOUNTS (vet said up to 40% in some dog foods). Even healthy dogs showed elevated heart-related enzymes. She said that these powders have been used in the past but the percentage increased a lot recently due to the grain-free trend. Don't know about humans of course but a big problem in dogs on grain-free kibbles.

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    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    I do not think people use it in that high a portion.

    I remember from my browsing that the recommended use was to replace up to half a cup flour for a recipe that called for two cups flour. More than that and it starts to mess up the consistency. And of course you are eating other food besides that. But I have seen other recommended uses for it. For example as an ingredient in a smoothie. Or stirred into soup as a thickener. I even read one person who added it to oatmeal. I am not sure if even that would bring it up to 40%, but maybe it could. I certainly would not use it that much.

    It is a red flag when something makes an animal sick, but it does not always mean it is bad for humans. For example chocolate is really bad for dogs but okay for humans.

    I seem to feel best when I am on a relatively high protein diet. Generally speaking for dinner we will usually have a meat/fish and beans. For snacks I generally feel like something with nuts or peanut butter. I am thinking about maybe having some kind of soy jerky for a snack.

    **********

    I am floating the idea of baked falafel to my husband. We initially did I pass on it because it was fried food.

    *****

    I tried some of the non-diary cheese substitutes and they were all pretty bad. Although the fake cream cheese is not to bad in taste. I have heard there are improvements now and there are some better tasting ones. I have also heard they are pretty pricey. And I am guessing they are high in fat too. So that would be more of an occasional thing.

    One of the companies I bought flavor drops for flavored water has some cheese flavor flavor drops. I have not bought any yet, but I am thinking about it. It would not have the cheese consistency, but a drop or two might be nice in a sauce. The company is called Nature's Flavors and the flavors are all natural.

    **********

    I am on the fence a little about making v. buying spice blends. It is generally cheaper to make your own. But the initial amount of spices to buy can be a lot.

    We are not particularly strict with salt. We went on a very low salt diet for around a year because of my husband's health issues. The numbers in his various medical tests did not improve even a tiny bit. After that I did some research and found that for some people it made a lot difference how much salt they ate - and for some people it did not make any difference. These were scientific studies, not a handful of people reporting their experience.

    On the other hand, salt is cheap. So if you are paying for a blend that is mostly salt, you are probably overpaying.
    KathyB

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    I remember trying soy flour when I was trying to increase protein and did not get good results baking with it.
    This lady tried her recipe using 3 different protein powder sources for comparison, it's interesting. One is pea protein flour.
    https://teaspoonofspice.com/which-pr...r-best-baking/

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    personally I don't go for fake meat..doing demos for years and seeing what is in some products..a lot of trendy is worse then the original for you. even the beyond meat burgers are very unhealthy processed. there are better fake dairy products cus looking at the vegan cream cheese ingredients wow so unhealthy.

    I think going to back to cultures w vegetarian cuisine like Indian, chinese helps, even lots of Italian recipes. because there is lot of flavour in them Spinach or lentil dahl, veggie korma, curry potato chickpea stew. I have a recipe from a British magazine that was budget meals that used hard boiled eggs instead of meat in curry.. it is good but dh can't eat eggs. Ratatouille the french dish. easy pasta dish is using button mushrooms instead of meat in the sauce. canned mushrooms and sauce for really easy dish. lots of ethic cuisines use very little meat but lots of flavour. black bean chili is easy or just black beans instead of meat for tacos. cassoulet veggie style, chunky veggie pasta sauce. all things I have gotten away with meat loving hubby. carrot soup. black bean burgers from scratch. somethings are fast and easy and some take longer but can do on the weekends cus it tastes better next day anyways or freeze.

    Nutritional yeast from the 70s has made a comeback as a sub for cheese. Here in the asian markets you can buy tempeh or seitan in cans.

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    also when I had to come up with something for a friend. cabbage steaks. green cabbage cut into inch thick steaks drizzled w olive oil garlic etc and roasted. you can do the same with cauliflower. also good as a side dish for the rest of the people.

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    Registered User Spirit Deer's Avatar
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    Martha, I tend to agree about fake food. Also about some ethnic cuisines. My doctor recommended the Mediterranean diet after Husby's heart attack. It emphasizes plant based dishes with meats as a side dish in small servings, and seafood, fish, chicken, and lower cholesterol proteins. I got every Med diet cookbook I could through inter-library loan and ended up buying The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook which I recommend.

    I also think a lot of fake foods are very overpriced. There are so many options for healthy real food, I seldom feel the need to try the fakes. I'll admit I do like a couple versions of fake butter though.

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    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    We use fake butter - the earth balance brand. It is pretty good. I am pretty happy with the taste of vegan cream cheese, but the ingredient list looks pretty bad. I look at it and think, I probably should not be eating this.

    Nutritionally one difference between vegan products and the real thing is cholesterol. As far as I can tell, only animal products have cholesterol. No matter how high in fat a vegan product is, it is always zero cholesterol. My husband's doctor has told him to cut back on cholesterol - even though we mostly have meat that is pretty lean. My husband has some health issues that are common in people with unhealthy diets. The thing is, we have eaten pretty healthy for decades. My husbands issues are congenial - i.e. stuff he was born with. I think the doctor is just giving the same advice he gives for his other patients. And possibly making assumptions about what my husband is eating based on his numbers.

    To sum up, we are already eating a diet that is pretty low in cholesterol - high in vegetables, fruit, fish, chicken, etc. But now my husband wants to try to make it even healthier. Or rather was told by his doctor to make it healthier. It is frustrating to have a relatively healthy diet and then be told you diet is not healthy enough.

    Since eating healthy does not seem to improve his condition, I am not sure if eating even healthier would make a difference. But I do not feel comfortable saying no to eating healthier. It may be that eating healthier has kept him from getting worse or slowed down the progress of various problematic things.

    We both like tofu and beans, but I feel like my husband wants to have some things that at least taste the foods he feels pressured to give up. Well we are not giving up meat completely, just going vegan for about half of our dinners.
    KathyB

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    I agree somethings are just your genes. that you can do everything you are suppose too but it won't change that fact. I remember someone who I saw in my demos..skinny counted sugar and carbs. very restrictive diet..more then any diabetic I knew. but yet no matter what he did he had higher blood sugar the he should so his doctor bugged him. I told him it just must be genetic. I think doctors just spout out the same old things so they can say yes I said that. I remember going to my doctor who I had been going to for years saying time to book appts for all my issues. first thing well it is all because you are overweight. no it isn't none of it has anything to do with my weight. born w a bend in my nose turns out so when allergies swell my sinuses I have a hard time breathing. was wondering why one day I am fine and the next I am out of breath doing the same things. same w my rotor cuff injury. at else younger doctors have more sense then start up. last one that started to say my period problems weren't.. just gave him a mom look that said been having periods longer then you are alive and you are a male so don't tell me how periods are suppose to feel like.


    We can't go vegan ..not that I want too but that my hubby is allergic to all nuts, grains, and seeds which most vegan products are made of. I just focus on quality. I mean you know a twinkie is not natural when you are eating it. but just believe in real food. but just reading labels. at a certain point too things are trendy and come back in fashion like bulgar etc.

    some things are easy to hide for families like dessert tofu in smoothies. or greens in smoothies. even lots of old recipes are vegan but before that was a trendy word so not labelled as such. wartime recipes when they had limited dairy, eggs and meat

    People tend believe names like veggie straws chips but when you look at them so processed and no nutrition but people believe it is. yet real potato chips have vit A etc because they are make from potatoes.

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    Registered User KathyB's Avatar
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    I used to have these veggie chips. They were like potato chips but made with different vegetables. I thought they were pretty tasty, but I never thought of them as healthy food. So many of the flavored chips have a cheese or sour cream flavor that has dairy so I can't eat them.

    Sometimes I go for the vegan stuff just to find options that do not have dairy.

    Once when I was on travel, I stopped by a vegan bakery to get something for a to go breakfast. I got a peanut butter and jelly bar. Picture a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now substitute shortbread cookies for the slices of bread. I am pretty sure that was not very healthy. It was pretty tasty though.
    KathyB

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    Cholesterol often has a genetic component, and nothing but meds will help. But it never hurts to avoid what you can.

    I buy the Move Over Butter fake butter, and I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray for popcorn. I spray the popcorn, sprinkle on lots of garlic powder, and stir. Sometimes I pop the popcorn with black pepper before adding the rest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KathyB View Post
    I used to have these veggie chips. They were like potato chips but made with different vegetables. I thought they were pretty tasty, but I never thought of them as healthy food. So many of the flavored chips have a cheese or sour cream flavor that has dairy so I can't eat them.

    Sometimes I go for the vegan stuff just to find options that do not have dairy.

    Once when I was on travel, I stopped by a vegan bakery to get something for a to go breakfast. I got a peanut butter and jelly bar. Picture a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Now substitute shortbread cookies for the slices of bread. I am pretty sure that was not very healthy. It was pretty tasty though.
    I think that was a recipe in one of the cozy mysteries I read pb and jelly cookies lol yes when you have to avoid dairy that makes it harder.

    there is a lot of people who think just because you say veggie on the front or low fat that is it good for me. 8 yrs of doing demos lol. like the new natural danone yogurt..use starch for thickener ..gelatin used to be the thing they used but then realized too many people were vegans etc. so now corn or tapioca starch is the thing they use. but better off getting the reg yogurt that is low fat buy it being strained longer. not as fast process though.

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    Registered User Contrary Housewife's Avatar
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    Found this graphic interesting. I wonder when pumpkin seed butter will become a thing. It looks like if you want vegan protein, a stir fry with cashews and almonds might be better for you than a salad with garbanzo beans. Not in the list, but bulghur wheat comes in at 12g protein per 100g (uncooked).

    frugal fake meat (i.e. meat substitutes that could maybe pass for meat)-fe5c1492f9237bb8c1ebffb05c2e63fb.jpg
    Stop trying to organize all of your family’s crap. If organization worked for you, you’d have rocked it by now. It’s time to ditch stuff and de-crapify your world.

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