eggplants

Meat Alternatives and their Benefits

Swapping out meat for plant-based protein may help you absorb a wider variety of nutrients, but that doesn’t mean all plant-based sources of protein are healthy. Vegetarian versions of carnivorous favorites such as meatless chicken tenders and roast beef made from tofu are no better than the real deal since most of them are rich in sodium.

If you’ve been on the lookout for healthy meat substitutes, here’s a list that will fill your plate with healthy plant-based proteins.

Eggplant

If you’re looking for an excellent meat substitute for some of your favorite Italian dishes, you need to get reacquainted with eggplants. This meaty, purple goodness is commonly incorporated in meatless lasagnas and other pasta dishes. Need an alternative for chicken parmesan? How about an eggplant parmesan instead? What’s even greater about this versatile vegetable is its nutritional value. If you need to amp up your fiber, antioxidants, vitamin B, and potassium intake, consider adding more eggplants to your diet.

Tofu

This bean curd made from mashed soybeans is typically known for being a soft, gelatinous, white block with little to no taste. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, does it? However, tofu is a hit in Asian and vegetarian cooking. With the right kind of seasoning and perfected methods of grilling or frying, tofu is an excellent substitute for proteins such as chicken and beef. Tofu also has cancer-fighting properties, and is known for being low in fat and cholesterol.

Bulgur Wheat

Bulgur is made from the parboiled groats of several different wheat species. The next time you prepare breakfast, try making a couple of bulgur wheat sausages by mixing it with green peppers, onions, and salt. Bulgur wheat is a low glycemic index food with a profound source of protein, potassium, and iron.

Legumes

Lentils, beans, and peas are all part of the legume family. They make great meat substitutes with their high protein, iron, magnesium, folate, and potassium content. They cook quickly, are incredibly inexpensive, and a small amount goes a very long way.

Portabello Mushrooms

When you’re craving the taste of meat, sink your teeth in portabello mushrooms. When cooked right, their rich, earthy, and meaty flavors closely identifies with the taste of real beef patties. Aside from being an excellent meat alternative, portobello mushrooms are also low in fat and cholesterol.

Nuts

There’s a reason to go nuts for nuts, and that’s because they have high protein and fiber content. Walnuts, peanuts, and almonds are all great substitutions for fish and omega 3. Consider mixing nuts into dishes that usually contain bits of meat like vegetable stir-fry, salads, and pasta. Just be mindful of the high-calorie content, and avoid the kinds that have too much salt.

Whether you aim to eliminate all animal products from your diet or are trying to limit your meat intake, these alternatives can help provide a variety of proteins that are low in saturated fat compared to their meat counterparts. It’s also a great bonus that these plant-based options offer additional vitamins and minerals.

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