• Nora Hemsley

Plant-Based Food Recommendations

This is a continuation of a previous article of mine where I reviewed some vegetarian/ vegan meat substitutes. I decided to continue with that idea and add other types of plant-based foods because I have so many and love discussing them:). Recently, I have been trying to eat more plant-based, to the best of my ability, and I have been enjoying cooking more and reimagining some of my favorite meals so that they can be plant-based. I know plant-based foods can be more expensive and harder to find, and I know I am very privileged to have access to these foods and the ability to try them.


Tempeh

One item I said I wanted to try in my last article was tempeh, and, since then, I have tried it a few times! I like it and can see why it is one of the most popular plant-based protein sources, and I also think I still need to experiment with different cooking/marinating techniques to find what works best for me. For the few times I have made it, I first steamed the tempeh, then marinated it (I use a marinade with a base of soy sauce, vinegar and oil with spices) for a few hours (the longer the better). Finally, I baked it for about 30 minutes. Tempeh has a softer texture than what it appears (at least to me), and, though its taste is mild, it is a little more noticeable (slightly nutty) than its soybean counterpart, tofu.


Seitan

Another item I said I wanted to try was seitan! I have only had this once because the cooking instructions were a little confusing. Instead of giving a cook time, they gave an ideal internal temperature for the seitan, which I have no way of calculating, so some strips were undercooked, and some strips were burnt. Still, I could get a rough sense of the taste and texture, and seitan is quite basic in both senses. Nothing stood out to me about the taste or texture, so I currently think this is a versatile plant-based protein source where there is room to experiment with use, prep and seasoning. In case you didn’t know (because I did not until recently), seitan is wheat-based. I look forward to trying more seitan dishes, both prepackaged and homemade!


Just Egg

This one I was confused, skeptical and hopeful about. It’s a plant-based egg alternative that comes as a liquid, and you cook it so it scrambles. Although the scrambled nature of Just Egg limits the range of use, it doesn’t take away from the beauty of having a scramble alternative! I also know that there are many other egg alternatives for baking and cooking (like flaxseed meal and water, bananas or applesauce), so I was more focused on the taste. I have become a frequent user of Just Egg now, and I like it most on its own, in a breakfast toast of some sort (bread, Just Egg, avocado, tomato, nutritional yeast and hot sauce = AMAZING!) or in a scramble with vegetables. Its texture is quite similar to scrambled eggs, but I admit that the taste is different. The main differentiating factor is hard to describe as I don’t know how I would characterize a mung bean (what Just Egg is made up of), but it tastes more earthy (don’t ask me to explain this sense because I can’t) and creamier.


“Smart” Bacon

I was never a huge fan of bacon toward the end of my meat-eating days in sixth grade, but I am always intrigued by new plant-based meat alternatives (as you can probably tell from the two articles I have written about them), so I had to try this fake bacon. The “bacon” comes in strips, and I tasted a couple and then crushed the rest into a crumble to put over some vegan mac n cheese, and I liked the taste in both uses! I cannot reliably say if this tasted similar to bacon because it has been 5+ years since I have eaten bacon, but it sparked some meat-related taste buds in my mouth. I am excited to incorporate these into vegan bacon egg and cheese sandwiches (which are not bacon egg and cheese sandwiches but let me pretend).


Smart Sweets

Some of their options are plant-based, and some are not, but the kind that I have tried are the sourmelon bites, sweet fish, peach rings, sour blast buddies and sweet chews. Many of their candies are mocks of very popular candies like Swedish Fish, Starbursts and Sour Patch Kids but with a twist of (mostly) plant-based and low sugar ingredients. If I am being completely honest, I was entranced by the packaging of these candies at the store, and that was why I decided to try them out. I am not the biggest fan of super sweet candy in general, and it can be hard to find vegan candy, but I enjoyed these! The sourmelon bites (basically mimicking the Sour Patch Watermelons) are sourer than the originals, but I notice a more distinct fruit flavor. I LOVE the peach rings. The sweet chews (modeling Starbursts) do not taste that similar to Starbursts, but I prefer them because they taste more natural and are less chewy.


Treeline Cheese


Caroline Kitt ’22 recommended this product to me as a non-vegan friend:). I decided to try the Herb Garlic flavor and enjoyed it! It reminded me of a goat cheese-based dip, so it was tangier than other dairy milk cheese dips I have tried. If you like to snack on some cheese dip with crackers or vegetables, I would recommend this one! And I cannot wait to try more flavors!


Seeing as I still have so many recommendations and I love trying new ones (all the while trying to avoid wasting any food), I will probably have to make this a little series in my articles! Until next time!


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