I am not a strict vegetarian, but I do try to minimize the amount of animal products that I eat. My experience is that the less animal products I eat, the more energy I have. Generally it can be pretty simple to substitute any type of meat in a dish by simply keeping an extra can of beans in the cabinet or marinating tofu in the morning to fry up for dinner later that night. Because I love food I am always looking for new types of proteins that are plant based, below are some of my favorite items to cook vegetarian meals with. Try out a recipe or two yourself and see how it goes! If you want a good BBQ sauce for any of these proteins, you can use my BBQ sauce recipe.
This is the best-kept secret in vegetarian cooking. Originally cultivated in India thousands of years ago, the Jackfruit tree is now grown in tropical climates all over the world. The tree produces fruit pods, similar to bananas or coconuts called jackfruit. Jackfruit is high in fiber and is a great protein alternative to meat. It can be prepared in recipes similar to pulled pork. You can buy fresh jackfruit at most ethnic grocery stores, Whole Foods also sells canned jackfruit which is easy to prepare at home. Try preparing it like you would pulled pork and then eat it on some tacos or as a sandwich. You will not be disappointed!
Everyone knows about tofu. It’s the standard go-to for meat alternatives. Tofu can get a bad wrap because it is so ubiquitous, however, tofu is so common for a reason: it’s pretty easy to prepare and very versatile. Almost any meat recipe can be made vegetarian with tofu, no need to make any other adjustments to the recipe. Plus tofu will easily take on the flavor of any spices you cook with. For a quick meal cut up the tofu into cubes and stir-fry it in a pan with some coconut oil, salt, and any of your favorite spices until the tofu is brown. Enjoy with some rice and vegetables!
Rice and beans is a standard dish in my house. You can never exhaust the number of dishes and recipes that you can use beans for. Plus there are so many different types of beans you can experiment with all the flavors and textures you can imagine forever and not get bored. Rice and beans have sustained the world for thousands of years, you can never go wrong with making it. Make it healthier by substituing white rice for brown rice.
Not a lot of people realize that many dark green vegetables are high in protein. Spinach, kale, broccoli and other vegetables like them, pack a powerhouse nutritional punch. Next time you are at the store don’t hesitate to stock up on a variety of green vegetables and eat them with every meal. Check out this list of vegetables that are high in protein.
This is a food product that not a lot of people have heard about, but it will change your life. Nutritional yeast is not something you bake bread or brew beer with. You can learn more about what it is and how using it while you cook your vegetarian meals can transform your recipes while also adding a load of nutritional benefits, particularly vitamin B12. It is not a full meat substitute but when used in vegetarian dishes it can boost the overall nutritional benefits you are getting from your meals. I like to use it whenever I can, it sort of adds a cheesy salty flavor to the food. It’s a great alternative to parmesan cheese. Here is a recipe for a delicious sauce you can make with nutritional yeast.
Going vegetarian does not have to be a life revolution. Learning a few simple recipes using meat alternatives will provide you with more than enough options to explore a variety of vegetarian protein sources and see just what kind of plant-based diet works for you. And remember to not stress out, enjoy the process of learning what you like and what you don’t like!