We’ve reached another Friday! If you’re looking to have some fun in the kitchen this weekend, I have a pretty great roundup of vegetarian and vegan whole food recipes to share. Though these are all meat-free recipes, they have passed approval with my omnivorous family. What I like about these dishes (aside from deliciousness) is that they feature health-promoting whole foods; no ultra-processed meat or cheese alternatives required! I hope that you love them as much as we did.
I shared this fabulous recipe on my Twitter and it was quite popular, so I thought I’d share it over here as well. Don’t miss her beautiful food photography over at the recipe link
I served this dish over brown rice, and it was a big hit with everyone in my family. Don’t be afraid to serve this one to a troop of meat-eaters. The Portobello caps make a hearty base to this entrée while the cheeses provide a good amount of protein, so everyone should leave the table feeling satisfied.
There are plenty of veggies in this one, and the mushrooms also count towards your vegetable group on the MyPlate. Save this dish for an evening when you have a little extra time. This “slow food” is well worth the wait.
Isn’t this gorgeous? This may look like an eggy frittata, but what we actually have here is a combination of dal, chickpea flour, coconut milk, turmeric, and veggies. I was thinking that this would taste more like a curry that was cooked into a cake-like form, but it was quite unlike anything I have had before (in a good way). We enjoyed slices of this dish cold for breakfast, no reheating required.
I decided to make this one because I had a bunch of leftover moong dal from a local Indian food market that I was trying to figure out what to do with… at least I thought I had moong dal. I actually had chana dal (dried split chickpeas) which look remarkably similar. Another change I made to the recipe was using smoked salt instead of the kala namak called for in the recipe. This is probably why my version of this dish had no “eggy” flavor, but it was still quite good.
I would not hesitate to make this again, and I probably will, since I have more chana dal. I did go through the process of making the whole food macadamia nut “cheese.” Yes, that added more time in making the recipe, but it added a nice touch to this dish.
I have so much to say about this recipe. Unlike what this website claims, I promise you that this tempeh, mushroom, and beet burger does not “taste a great deal like the real thing.” That is not a bad thing though, as long as you like tempeh, mushrooms, and beets. (My son really dislikes tempeh, so I tried this one out when he was away at camp.)
This website also quotes a vegan author who says that “vegan meats” are healthier than animal-based foods. I do not agree that the ultra-processed vegan meat alternatives are a healthier choice than minimally processed foods such as fresh meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and many dairy products. This particular recipe is made with whole foods and does offer some advantages over a lean beef burger, but it has some disadvantages as well. I will cover them in a bit.
Before I discuss the nutrition, I want to recommend that though I made seven ½ cup patties with this recipe, I suggest making smaller and thinner patties than I did. They will not shrink at all on you, and getting more of the crispy outer edges in each bite will only make things better. I was impressed with the red of these patties from the beets, and they held together far better than other vegan patties I’ve made at home in the past.
I did a nutrient comparison comparing one of these patties (1/7 of the recipe) to my regular 96/4 beef burger (4 ounces). Here’s what I found:
- Veg burger wins on fiber (6.5 g versus 0 g in a beef burger)
- Veg burger has about 200 mg more potassium
- Veg burger has phytonutrients that are not listed on the food labels
- Beef burger has 45 fewer calories
- Beef burger has way more protein (over 8 g more)
- Beef burger wins on iron (both for having more and for having a more bioavailable form)
- Burgers about tied for total and saturated fat
I’d say both definitely have some advantages, and I wouldn’t hesitate to include either in my meals. I could make the protein about equal between the two by adding a slice of cheese to the veg burger, but this would increase the calories and saturated fat even more.
I would not want to eat a smaller serving of the veggie burger since the protein was already rather low compared to the beef burger. (Remember how I suggested above to make smaller patties? I would simply eat more of them.)
So, I would give the beef burger a slight edge for those who are looking to create a calorie deficit for weight loss. The beef burger is certainly less time consuming to prepare as well.
These beans with a pretty purple hue don’t come with a recipe, but I feel they are worth mentioning in this post because they are one of the heartiest bean varieties around. This large, dense bean would make the perfect minimally processed replacement for meat, possibly more than any other bean I’ve ever tried.
There are not a lot of suggestions for cooking online for these, and I don’t think the recipe I created was quite the best way to use them. I bet ayocote morados would work well in a chili dish. I think pairing these meaty beans with some hot peppers and other intense flavors would allow them to shine without overtaking the other ingredients in the dish.
If you are a plant-based foodie, do not miss out on trying this bean!
A Few Final Thoughts…
The best vegan and vegetarian foods were not created in a lab. If you are choosing a meat-free diet due to ethical concerns, don’t forget that your personal health is important too. By getting creative in the kitchen and preparing some meals ahead, you can limit the ultra-processed foods that are not optimal choices for health. You may end up saving some money on your grocery bill as well.
In case it was not clear from previous articles, I am not one of the dietitians who tries to push my fellow omnivores towards vegetarianism or veganism. I worry that certain messaging (e.g., “limit meat”) may create fears around animal-based nutrient-rich whole foods.
However, if you are an omnivore looking to include some more vegetables in your diet, making (and eating!) any of the above recipes may get you one step closer to meeting your goals. Who knows, you may end up with a new family favorite on your hands.