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Nutrition

3 Meat Substitutes You Probably Didn’t Know About

There’s so many plant-based foods out there that provide us with the perfect meat substitute.

I’m happy that my local supermarket has a section for ‘plant-based meats’ now. There’s burger patties, sausages and even mock duck! While it’s not technically whole-foods and is on the processed side of things, I fully support these new innovations if that means someone can transition to a plant-based diet much easier.

It also lets me try new things and see if I can re-create it on my own at home!

However, I do agree sometimes that most of these pre-made plant-based meats have lots of unnecessary and excess ingredients. So I usually like to make my own out of vegetables or nuts!

We’re used to seeing jackfruit and cauliflower used to replace meat… but have you seen how bananas can replace your meat too? I’m serious!

These are the 3 meat substitutes you probably didn’t know about! Or have you? Let me know in the comments if you have already worked with these!

1. Banana

When I told my friends that I made these Vietnamese meat balls (nem nuong) with bananas they didn’t believe me!

Bananas have a wonderful texture to act as a meat substitute. They have a soft yet starchy consistency that allows you to create mould the fruit into certain shapes. Perfect for meat balls, patties, ground meat and similar!

But you have to choose the type and ripeness of the bananas carefully.

There are three main types of bananas that you’ll encounter at mainstream supermarkets and at Asian grocery stores.

  • Cavendish banana – your well-known typical banana
  • Lady finger bananas – are shorter and chubbier versions (surely they’re men’s fingers!), very sweet when ripe
  • Plaintain bananas – notably larger and longer, higher starch component, less sweet

The plaintain banana is the best one to use as a meat substitute. It’s less sweet compared to lady finger bananas and has a higher starch component. However, the plaintain banana is often sold and eaten when its unripe, so you’ll have to wait a few days until it starts to ripen.

On the other hand, the lady finger bananas are great to use in sweeter meat dishes.

In terms of the level of ripeness, I recommend erring on the more unripe side. You don’t want the bananas to ripen too much that it becomes mushy and loses its starchness. Also, you can always microwave the bananas to soften them up if need!

Source: Wikimedia commons

2. Cabbage

Shredded cabbage can be used as a meat substitute for many meat dishes.

While it doesn’t offer the same hearty and meaty texture like jackfruit and eggplant, cabbage provides textured pieces with a good crunch. How long you cook the cabbage will also help reduce the crunch if you want a more chewy consistency.

The best way to enjoy cabbage as a meat substitute is to mix it with lots of sauce and flavour. The mixture will then serve as a perfect filler for tacos, pies and dumplings.

Photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash

3. Walnuts

Crushed walnuts are a great substitute for mince and ground meat.

Add your herbs and spices and pulse the walnuts in a food processor until course and crumbly. The trick is to keep the mince-like consistency and if pulsed for too long, the walnuts will turn into a smooth butter form.

These are great for taco meat and nut loaf. Go a step further and add in your favourite sauces to create a pasta bolognese!

SOURCE: Tom Hermans (Unsplash)