Many new vegans and vegetarians have questions concerning the types of meat substitutes available at the grocery store or online. The following information is intended to present a general explanation of seitan, tempeh and tofu. Please be sure to read the warning/disclaimer at the end of the article.
SEITAN – Many cooks utilize seitan as a replacement for chicken. This food source is derived from wheat. Seitan is high in protein. Consider substituting seitan in a traditional chow mein or fajita recipe. Spices may be added or it can be cooked in a sauce reduction for flavor enhancement. Many people add tapioca starch, nutritional yeast, or a blend or tofu, rice milk and olive oil for texture and for additional carbs.
TEMPEH – Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and other grains. The whole soybeans results in a denser product compared to tofu. Like tofu, tempeh should also be marinated to add flavor before cooking. Tempeh can be floured or breaded and fried for a nice crust. Tempeh is excellent in gumbo, chilli and other flavorful foods.
TOFU - Tofu is created through a process of coagulating soymilk. The product is sold in soft white blocks. The origins of tofu date back prior to 122 BC in ancient China. The high protein, low fat food product contains a low calorie count and is high in iron, calcium and magnesium. Tofu is sold primarily packaged as fresh, silken, firm and sometimes frozen. Fresh tofu is packaged in water to maintain its moisture. Firm tofu has more of a consistency of raw meat. Silken tofu is primarily utilized for desserts. Most cooks marinate tofu, as it readily absorbs other flavors.
WARNING/DISCLAIMER - As with all food sources, one should avoid soy products that have been genetically manipulated. Some people are allergic to soy products. While soy is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, many studies caution against consumption by females due to negative hormonal side effects, which can result in irregular menstrual cycles, decreased fertility and even early onset of puberty. Tofu has also been blamed for possible thyroid problems and fetal developmental issues.
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