While the youngsters are texting “TTYS,” we’re talkin’ about “TTS”!
That’s right – Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan – the meaty, hearty, versatile staples of any vegan diet.
How Do I Pronounce That?: Toe-Foo
Types: There are two types of tofu: Silken or soft tofu, and regular or firm tofu. Both types boast a variety of textures (firm, extra firm, etc) and can come in raw, sprouted, and/or organic formulations. Opt for organic and sprouted versions if you wish to avoid genetically modified (GMO) nasties and want to up the nutrient content.
Why It Rocks: Nutritionally, tofu is high in protein, low in fat, and naturally cholesterol-free. It also contains healthful phytochemicals, such as isoflavones and soy saponins. For cooking, tofu absorbs whatever flavors and marinades it is exposed to. Silken tofu lends a cream-like quality to foods and adds a soft, spongey deliciousness to soups (think those little white pearls in miso soup), while firm tofu can be used to sub for egg-like consistencies, and create rockin’ meat analogues and other dishes requiring a soft, but toothsome texture. Moreover, tofu is inexpensive and can be found practically anywhere. From health food stores, to Asian markets, to your corner store – tofu is quite possibly the easiest to procure meat substitute.
Why It Gets a Bad Rap: Tofu is a processed soy product, and the verdict is still out on unfermented, photo-estrogen rich soy products. You can read some of the research on soy, and namely tofu, here. Also, at first blush, tofu doesn’t look particularly appetizing. But with a little patience and technique, it can quickly and easily be cooked up in to some of the tastiest morsels around. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
How Do I Pronounce That?: Tem-Pay
Types: Tempeh is available in many commercially-prepared varieties, including organic, sprouted, smoked, and with different grain and spice preparations, like flax and barley. Experiment to lend different flavors and textures to your recipes.
Tempeh Helper (like Hamburger Helper, minus the cruelty, nastiness, and this)
Chesapeake Tempeh Cakes (like crab cakes, but no pinchy pinchy)
Black Bean, Sweet Potato Tempeh Burgers
Phyllo Tempeh Reubens
Orange and Ancho Tempeh Tacos with Grapefruit Slaw
Tempeh “Fish n’ Chips” (YES. Fish and freakin’ chips. So good.)
Seitan makes me wild with desire. It’s my very favorite meat substitute, because it boasts so many different textures. Seitan can be soft for slicing like gyro or lunchmeat, or it can be made firmer for a consistency that works with skewers and steaks. It’s also a cinch to make. Read on and see why seitan has so many dedicated followers.
How Do I Pronounce That?: Say-Tan
Types: Seitan comes in so many varieties, your head will spin. You can buy already prepared seitan in a variety of flavors and firmness. There are also commercially-available seitan mixes that require only some liquid, stirring, and cooking to create a masterful loaf, and many are geared toward replicating a certain kind of meat. And, among the meat subs, seitan is the easiest to customize and make at home. Seitan blends often feature tofu or tempeh to create different textures and levels of chewiness.
Potato-Crusted Seitan Cutlets
Seitan Roast Stuffed with Shiitakes and Leeks
Simple Italian Sausages and Smoky Maple Sausages
BBQ Seitan Ribz
Hickory Smoked Veggie Turkey Lunchmeat
Bolognese Sauce with Seitan Crumbles
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): Vegan White Bean and TVP Meatballs
Cauliflower: Vegan Cauliflower “Steak” with Basil Oil
Portobello Mushrooms: Miso-Marinated Portobello Mushroom Carpaccio
Jackfruit: Jackfruit Carnitas
Coconut: Coconut Bacon
Lentils: Gluten-free Vegan Lentil “Meatloaf”
Eggplant: Eggplant Bacon and Scalloped Potatoes and Eggplant Bacon