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Chef Steve: Meat Alternatives

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Our family is used to eating meat at least five nights a week. I’ve read it’s healthier to avoid eating meat every day. Are there any good replacement foods that will satisfy my family's tastes?

Yes, yes, and yes. There are a wide variety of incredible meat-replacement products such as soy-based sausage, meatballs, burgers, and ground beef on the market, sold refrigerated or frozen. Many of them taste wonderful and have a very meat-like texture. They are also lower in saturated fats than meat, and so are better for heart health.

All these substitutes can be used in recipes, perhaps not as the main ingredient, but as a component in a great meal. Some examples might be lasagna, spicy chipotle chili, or enchiladas made just as you normally would, except with crumbled soy sausage or soy beef. Stir fry red, yellow, and orange peppers, with a flavored soy sausage, adding some fresh basil at the very end—just until it’s wilted—and serve over pasta. I’ve made pizza using soy sausage, soy beef, and soy pepperoni with great results—with most people not even realizing that the pizza was vegetarian. See if your family notices!

Chef Steve Petusevsky, a graduate and former instructor of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, is a nationally syndicated columnist whose writing appears in Natural Health, Fine Cooking, the Los Angeles Times, Food & Wine, and the Chicago Tribune.

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