Monday, September 12, 2011

Meatless Monday! Week 1

We're trying to eat healthier around here. Although I don't think we have the worst diets, there's definitely a lot of room for improvement. For awhile now I've been trying to avoid high fructose corn syrup and sodium nitrates (found in most processed meats, like lunch meat and hot dogs) as much possible, cooking and baking from scratch more often, and buying more all natural and organic foods. This is a big job and not always easy, but little by little we're doing what we can. We found out we have some health issues we need to work on, so improving our diet has become a bigger priority.

Recently, Harmony Valley gave me the opportunity to try their vegan meat substitute products, and I thought, "what the heck?" I've had them sitting in my kitchen for awhile now, and I've been a little nervous to try them. I thought the beginning of the school year was the perfect time to kick off a month of Meatless Mondays, and tonight was the first.

I went to the Harmony Valley website to look for recipe ideas, and the one I chose for tonight was vegetarian meatballs, using the Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix. 

Before starting, I prepared the Hamburger Mix by mixing it with cold water and refrigerating it for 15 minutes, as the package directions stated. I prepared and baked the meatballs as directed, and also made rotini. When the the meatballs and rotini were finished cooking, I drained the pasta and added it to the baking dish with the meatballs. I also added half a jar of Private Selection Organic Marinara Pasta Sauce. I topped everything with a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese, and put it back in the oven until the cheese was melted.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't tell anyone that the meatballs were actually meatless. Chris thought they were made with turkey (I fessed up to him after dinner). Everyone ate them except Lucy. I could definitely tell the taste was different, but I don't know if I would have noticed as much if I hadn't known it was a meat substitute. I feel good that we were eating a healthier alternative to beef, which is what I would generally use to make meatballs.

Any vegetarians out there, or anyone who cooks with meat substitutes? I would LOVE to hear your tips, tricks, and recipes. How do you make a meat substitute taste less like a meat substitute? I will be doing Meatless Monday for the next three weeks and I would love some suggestions! I will be using the Vegetarian Hamburger Mix one more time, and the Vegetarian Sausage Mix two times, so please share your best ideas!

Special thanks to Harmony Valley for providing samples to me for review purposes. I was not compensated in any other way, and the opinions expressed are 100% my own. I'm glad to have this opportunity to try something new!

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