I’ve written in the past about my former vegetarian lifestyle and the fact that I totally failed at it because I’m not very good at balancing my diet. I’ve tried all the vegetarian and vegan substitutes, from veggie burgers to tofu cheese and most of them are kind of gross. They all either have a gross texture or a weird taste. I tolerated tofu hot dogs and Boca burgers for years while Nate looked at me like I was out of my mind. So when a friend told me she uses Harmony Valley’s vegetarian mixes in place of breakfast sausage and doesn’t even notice the difference, I was intrigued.
I tried out their hamburger mix and immediately saw one advantage: the portability. This mix is found not in the refrigerated or frozen food sections, but in the dry foods aisle. And it’s healthy! Made mostly of soy, the meat substitute has 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrates and an amazing 14 grams of protein in each dry 1/4 cup. It also has a good amount of fiber and iron and it’s super-easy to make. You just mix it with 1 1/4 cup of water, let it sit for 15 minutes and then cook it pretty much the same way you would cook ground beef.
I mixed some with Mexican seasoning for lunch while Nate was at work one day and left the excess in a bowl in the refrigerator. I ran some errands the next day and was preparing to make both of us a snack when I got home, but he told me he wasn’t hungry. “I ate the meat you left in the fridge,” he said. “What was that, anyway? Turkey or pork? It wasn't as greasy as the usual taco meat.” It took me a minute, contemplating what leftovers I had in there before I realized what he was talking about. “Hah! You ate soy meat!!”
So while it may not fool our household’s biggest burger connoisseur into thinking it’s grade-A beef, he did think he was eating some sort of meat. If that’s not a testament to how far vegetarian options have come, I don’t know what is. I’ll definitely be taking Harmony Valley mixes along on camping trips in the future to give our family a nice, high-protein option in a very portable package.
Disclosure: Harmony Valley provided me with one of their vegetarian mixes to try.