I went to whole foods on a mission to find some faux meet that did not have gluten (I have nothing against gluten, I just can't eat it) and did not taste disgusting. Tempeh was not going to cut it because it has a consistency that is somewhat bean-y. I'm trying to stay away from isolated soy protein which limits a ton of what's out there. He was into Quorn when I made it, but there seems to be some controversy over the mycoprotein it is made of. To help England with coming up with a cheap meatless source of protein, the makes of Quorn came up with a protein rich fungus grown in vats. It has the consistency of chicken, but let me just say it again, it is a fungus grown in vats. Honestly, if you can get over that, it tastes pretty good, but it is best as a "chicken patty" which is breaded and definitely more processed than some of the other meat substitutes. I've tried seitan for JD (I can't eat it because it is gluten) and prepared it in a way that I thought he would like, but the consistency was too "spongy" for him. Honestly I find the consistency of seitan a bit off putting too, but I know a lot of vegans swear by it so I am not going to knock it for those that enjoy it. I may not be cooking it right either.
Enter Beyond Meat. I found it in the freezer section of Whole Foods in a very nondescript package and it's made of pea protein. Good start. It was the only one I hadn't tried so I decided to give it a go. Out of the package it didn't have a bad smell and it looked a heck of a lot like ground beef. I put it in the tiniest little bit of olive oil that I had already sautéed some onions, red peppers, zucchini and carrots in. I added some of our Rao's sauce and some basil right at the end because my family's in love with that sauce. In my opinion has a little too much sugar and oil in it, but we don't eat a ton of it so I'm not going to get crazy about it. It is also something that everybody already enjoys so I thought maybe I could pull the fake meat off in the sauce. I put it over some brown rice pasta and was anxiously awaiting the boys were about to dig into it. Dunc said, "this isn't meat... but I like it." Coop wasn't having it at all and yelled in his new teen loud voice, "why the hell can't we just have meat!!!" He is still having a hard time with this. I feel bad but I am not going to give up. He still eats meat He is missing burgers and steak which he used to eat a lot of. I do wonder whether he will continue to miss it this much while we keep going like this.
I was definitely holding my breath as JD tasted it because I knew the slam was coming. He took a bite looked up and said "this is freaking awesome. I can't believe it's not meat!" Oh my gosh. Score! I finally found a meatless protein source that he would actually eat. Such a score! I liked it a lot too though I am ok with throwing lentils in my pasta and don't need the fake meats.
I went online to live chat with people from Beyond Meat and learned that they are a local company based right here in El Segundo. The guy offered me a tour of the facility which I will take him up on for sure. I also learned that they have tremendous support from people like Bill Gates and Twitter co-founders Biz Stone and Evan Williams who have invested in their company.
Pretty stoked on Beyond Meat.
I also saw on the website that they had "chicken strips" so I bought them the next day. They are grilled chicken strips made from non-GMO soy and pea protein. I have to say that I didn't love them but I wasn't very creative in how I prepared so I will try to do better with it next time. I tried it at the store prepared as a vegan chicken salad and it was actually delicious. Since then I have tried the meat in tacos with mexican spices and it was great. Even Coop ate it even though he was mad at me because I had told him it was real meat, then after he liked it told him it wasn't. He said I was a liar and I guess he was right, but I knew if I told him it was fake he would prejudge. I will have to be straight up with him as I am learning that trickery does not go over well with an almost 14 year old boy.
This pic is pretty bad and does not do the dish justice but gives you an idea of what the "meat" sauce looked like.
It was seriously yummy.
1/2 c has 10 gm of protein derived from peas.
This one was the Beefy Crumbles. The consistency was good, though I will definitely cook veggies and everything first next time and throw this in last. I need to remember that these substitutes are not meat and do not benefit from longer slower cooking times as meat often does.
I wish this picture did it justice!