In the early days of my vegetarianism, there were very few veg meat substitutes on the market, other than tofu and a frozen veggie burger whose taste was very similar to that of the cardboard box it came in. (Not that I ever tried the box.) When I did want to sink my teeth into something “meaty”, I would often turn to boxed mixes for foods like falafels and tofu burgers. As more and more veggie meats came onto the market, the mixes seemed obsolete. I’m more health conscious now than I was years ago, and I don’t eat very much processed food so I don’t eat very much in the way of veggies meats anymore. I do, however, love the idea behind neat, a healthy replacement for meat. It’s so healthy and simple that I don’t mind what might seem like back-stepping by using packaged mixes to make veggie meats once again.
neat is a meat replacement mix that is derived from nuts, beans, oats and spices. Not only is it cruelty-free, it’s soy-free and gluten-free as well. It’s easy to make, and while it does have a hint of the “healthy” about it, it tastes great. Instructions for preparation on the package say to mix neat with two tablespoons of water and two eggs, but I used 2 tablespoons of ground flax and 8 tablespoons of water, and my neat mixed up nicely. After mixing, you can either form into patties or break it up into crumbles. Neat cooks quickly and only needs about 7 to 9 minutes in a skillet on medium high heat.
neat mixes come in four varieties – original, Mexican, Italian, and breakfast. The original neat works great for making burgers or crumbling into stews and chilis. The Italian mix is great for making “meat” sauces, using as a filling in lasagnas, or rolling into neatballs. The Mexican mix works really well as a taco filling, and it’s also fun to crumble over nachos with guacamole and vegan cheese. The breakfast mix has a flavor that resembles sausage, and it can used to make patties, tofu quiches, or a breakfast hash. I used added my package of neat breakfast mix to a tofu scramble for a tasty weekend brunch.
neat is a healthy alternative to meat substitutes, and it’s an excellent food to take with you when traveling to not so vegan-friendly locales, as it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, the way most veggie meats do. neat can be prepared exactly as the package describes, or you can get creative with it, and whip up your own culinary masterpieces. It can be used in just about any way that ground beef can.
The nice folks at neat have been kind enough to offer a 4-pack of neat mixes to one lucky Chic Vegan reader. Follow the instructions below to enter. U.S. residents only, please. Contest ends at midnight eastern time on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 Good luck!