Monday, January 10, 2011

Whole Food Vegetarian Ground Beef Substitute Recipe

OK, I know this photo is really ugly. But I wanted you to see how much it makes. A whole 8 x 8 pan full to the brim. I quartered it and bagged it in quart-sized freezer bags. So, for about $1 this makes about as much ground beef substitute as the $10 package of four 1-pound equivalent Yves ground round beef substitute.
Day 10.

This recipe comes from a reader, Jessica, who says this recipe (one I've been searching for as a stand-in for the more processed "beef" substitutes you buy in the freezer section) is great in chili, tacos and spaghetti.

I'm so excited to see how this works out and you'll likely see it cropping up in other recipes soon. But this deserved a post of its own. The is a vegan recipe, too. Bonus! I'm excited that it just takes whole foods. I've altered Jessica's original recipe based on ingredients I have in my usual pantry, subbing out gluten for mushrooms and potatoes.

Ground Beef Substitute
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Brown rice
  • 2 cups Green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons Montreal steak seasoning
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vital wheat gluten*
  • 1 cup rolled oats
*for a gluten-free option, replace wheat gluten with:
    • 1/4 cup diced and sauteed or marinated mushrooms
    • 1/4 cup mashed potatoes

Directions:
Boil rice, lentils and steak seasoning until slightly soft (I put them in my rice cooker on brown rice setting). Drain any excess water, if necessary. Combine with remaining ingredients. Spread into a large pan and bake at 300F for 1 hour, stirring occasionally to evenly dehydrate mixture. Store in portion-sized freezer bags. It will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer until used.

The Results
Another split decision. I absolutely love it. My husband likes it, but says it isn't really all that beefy. So, I'd say give it a shot and decide for yourself. I think it's great, and is beefy enough for me. Maybe I'll kick the steak seasoning up a notch next time. I'm really excited to try it out in recipes. I have no idea how it will hold up in chili and other liquidy recipes. But yum, it's great and not processed food. And, it costs about $1 to make. Win!

UPDATE: I've gone with the wheat gluten option the last several times (since I stock it in my pantry now). The only other change is cooking the batch in a larger pan. I use a large 13 x 9 baking dish to spread the "beef" out more. Also, the husband has become a fan of it now.

UPDATE 2: NUTRITION FACTS (10 servings per batch)--Serving Size 99 g, Calories 380, Calories from Fat 66, Total Fat 7.4g, Sodium 452 mg, Total Carbohydrates 59.4g, Dietary Fiber 14.4g, Protein 18.6g

This post is linked at Meatless Mondays, Homemaker Monday, Happy Homemaker MondayMenu Inspiration Monday and Just Another Meatless Monday.

33 comments:

  1. I'm going to have to try this....but without the mushrooms (I am allergic to them, sad to say!)....

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  2. The original recipe actually calls for 1/2 C of Gluten instead of the mushrooms and potatoes, I just don't keep gluten in the pantry so I swapped it out. You could either do the gluten or just increase the potatoes. Good luck!

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  3. So it was gluten, like to make seiten? just trying to see what the original recipe was. I like the mushrooms too, they always taste meaty. I'll give this a whirl for sure!

    Thanks for linking up to Just Another Meatless Monday!

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  4. Yes, I believe so. At least that was my interpretation. It was 1/2 C gluten no mushrooms and no potatoes. Mashed potatoes are a substitute for gluten in bread recipes, so I went with that. The mushrooms I just liked in the Meatless Meatballs recipe, so I wanted to add those in, also. Let me know how it turns out if you try the gluten.

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  5. That is very interesting. The lentils and gluten would make a complete protein, better than gluten or soy alone. I'm going to have to try this (with the gluten, though--I always have that on hand).

    I'll bet this would work really well to make sloppy joes. I buy the canned sauce and mix it in with seasoned TVP, but this would be much more nutritious!

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  6. I think I'm going to try this with gluten and mushrooms - leave out the potatoes!
    I wonder how brown lentils would work - I have those, currently don't have any green ones.

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  7. I think that would work great. As for the green vs. brown, I think the cooking times might be slightly different, but not by much. I may try it with gluten next time, but I do like the gluten-free option with the potatoes. Good luck!

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  8. Very interesting. We use store-bought beef substitute on occasion, but I would really prefer to make my own. I gotta try this.

    Thanks for sharing it with Midnight Maniac Meatless Mondays.

    ♥ Rebecca Jean
    Midnight Maniac

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  9. where do you get the steak seasoning. I have often wondered where people get the steak and chicken seasoning

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  10. Manders: I get McCormick "Montreal Steak Seasoning" at either Kroger or Sam's Club. I usually get the giant Sam's version, lately, but it's available in a smaller size at most grocery stores. Here's a link to the size I buy, via amazon: Montreal Steak Seasoning

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  11. How much water do you use to boil the rice and lentils, and for how long? Does "slightly soft" mean the same as fully cooked rice, or not that long? I'm not good at improvising--I need specifics. :)

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  12. It depends on our rice and appliance. If you're doing it in a rice cooker, put in the amount of water for 4 cups of brown rice. If you're boiling on the stovetop, consult your package instructions. Slightly soft means fully cooked, but not mushy.

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  13. This is beautiful! I am living in a kind of wilderness situation, i'm allergic to soy (so no TVP) and I was looking for a simple ground beef substitute. Though I have no access to a a decent steak seasoning (meaning chemical free)... what else could I used instead?

    When I make it i'll definitely link it on my blog. Check it out if you have a chance! http://noceilings-dara.blogspot.com/

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  14. Based on the ingredients of the steak seasoning, I would try a blend of kosher salt, garlic powder, black pepper (Mixing up a batch of House seasoning would be a great start for that) onion flakes or onion powder, and red pepper flakes would be the way to go I think. It's probably something you'll have to tinker around with a bit to get the proportions right for you. Let me know how it goes, I'd love to see your version!

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  15. What is the consistency supposed to be once it's dehydrated? I don't use the store-bought faux ground beef so don't know what it should look like or how to use it in a recipe.

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  16. @Jana I think I would describe it as a soft granola. It looks like granola, because it's all crumbly and chunky, but then when you bite into it, it's more the texture of mushrooms. I hope that makes sense.

    As for how to use it in recipe, I think the best starter recipe to use would be simple tacos. Add a bit of oil and taco seasoning and place it in a taco shell with your preferred toppings. Or you can try tostadas. With more soupy recipes, you'll want to add the "beef" later than traditional beef or store-bought beef, as it can break apart if it gets too soggy.

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  17. Any idea on nutritional info? I like the crumbles b/c they add a nice does of protein to dishes. Thanks! Oh, and do your kids like it? 2 y/o and 5 y/o. Love your blog - describes our family perfectly!!!

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  18. @Anonymous, I've actually had a lot of requests for the nutrition info, so I've updated the post to include that, thanks for the reminder! And our kids love it, especially in tacos! My husband has grown to love it, also.

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  19. This is fantastic! My husband and I are not vegetarians (however we do enjoy vegetarian meals several times a month). I wanted to try this recipe because our 3 year old really doesn't like meat and I worry she doesn't get enough protein. I made this today and she LOVES it! I admit, I really like it too! Thanks for sharing this recipe, it'll be a staple in our house from now on.

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  20. I made this last week, stored it in the freezer, and used it last night for a "meaty" vegetarian lasagna. It was so good! Standard veggie lasagna doesn't generally do it for me (not enough protein), but adding this to each layer really bulked it up. So glad I made an extra lasagna for the freezer!

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  21. Son has Celiac Disease.... we are vegatarians.... has anyone made the gluten free version? I am wondering how it tasted and how well it handled in the recipe, especially with spaghetti sauce, chilis etc... Thanks!!!

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    1. Yes actually, the original version I made was gluten-free back before I kept vital wheat gluten in the pantry. You simply replace the vital wheat gluten with 1/4 cup diced sauteed mushrooms and 1/4 cup mashed potatoes. It handles well with both spaghetti sauce and chilis. It does get a bit squishier after sitting in the sauce for several days, but still tastes great and holds up most of its texture.

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  22. This is a really great idea! Thanks so much. I think my husband might actually eat this :)

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  23. Hmm...do you think I could substitute black beans for lentils, or would that make it too moist?

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    1. That could be interesting, I'll have to give it a try myself. I think it would be moister than the lentils version. I'd consider doing two things: chop the black beans into smaller bits and add more oats, maybe 1/4 cup. Let me know if you try it.

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  24. Do you think cutting out some of the oil would hurt the recipe much? I'd like to cut it down to half if it would work, but that's a lot of food to waste if it doesn't turn out. Is the oil simply to help it brown up in the oven or does it serve another purpose? If so, I'd think a slightly higher temp or just a couple minutes under the broiler would help with that at the end.

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    1. I'm afraid it might be TOO dry with half the oil. Maybe try it with a half or quarter batch, but keep an eye on it. You could always mix in a bit more oil if it looks scary.

      You could also try pumpkin puree or maybe unsweetened, no cinnamon applesauce if you're worried about the oil.

      If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

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  25. I'm about to give this a whirl, and mix it half & half with real cooked ground beef. Hopefully I can pass it off to my husband. We'll see.

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    1. Okay. I'm not sure what kind of lentils I used- They just said "Lentils". But by the time the rice was done, they were pretty mushy.

      And the whole mixture tastes awfully peppery and not very meaty despite the fact that I added a beef bullion cube along with the steak seasoning.

      It's really good, but I don't think it will pass the man check.

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  26. Bummer about the man check, but I'm glad you like it! I'm not sure why the lentils got so mushy. It could be the type of lentils or maybe a difference in your rice cooker. I have a fuzzy logic one. You could try cooking the lentils separately on the stovetop (according to package directions) if you think that's your only major issue.

    As for the beefy taste, I've never added beef bouillon and it's been so long since I've had real ground beef that I can't really accurately report on that. But, what I can suggest is putting it in a strong sauce for the first attempt at passing the "man test." I find that if it's in chili or marinara sauce, it's less likely to set off meat-eater alarm bells.

    Hope that helps!

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  27. This is such a great idea! Been looking for something to replace Yves ground. A couple of questions...when you cook with it afterwards, for example in a shepherd's pie or for taco filling or in chilli, do you just add it at the last minute to heat it through, or do you fry it up or cook it any more?

    My other question, I don't have any steak seasoning, do you think if I cooked the rice & lentils in beef flavoured vegetable stock instead of water, it would do the trick or should I add more seasoning?

    Lastly have you made it with mushrooms AND gluten? Thinking of doing that as hubby loves mushrooms, and I love the chewiness of vital wheat gluten.
    THNX!

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    1. Yves is what I used before this recipe (and still use occasionally), so I think you'll be happy with this recipe! I think the beef-flavoured veggie stock would work great. I'm a big fan of using what you have in the pantry. If you eventually want to try a make-your-own steak seasoning, try a blend of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion flakes or powder and red pepper flakes.

      And yes, I have made this with gluten AND mushrooms and I like it, too. It's extra chwy. Kind of a steak-burgery texture.

      And I usually put the beef in last minute to warm it up or mix it with a bit of olive oil and seasoning (like taco seasoning maybe) and warm it up on its own. The only thing to be careful about is super wet or soupy recipes. You don't want to leave the beef that wet for several days in the fridge--it can get a little soggy. You'll want to pack it separately for dishes like that (like you would for noodles that go in soup).

      Hope this helps! Let me know how it goes and if you have any more questions/concerns.

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