You Don't Eat No Meat!?

One of my favorite movies is the great "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." Not only is this show hilarious but there are so many instances that remind me of my family. I come from a family of 8 and it is awesome, and then you add in my 17 aunts and uncles, my little over 80 first cousins, and then all the great grandkids that come along. We are a wild bunch on both sides of my family and gatherings are always full of excitement and stories to tell. When you have a big family there always seems to be more opportunity for diversity, in good ways and bad. One of the most famous scenes and one of my favorite lines from the movie is when the finance is meeting the huge greek family for the first time. One of the very outspoken aunts finds out a horrific knowledge about him that is quite different from their family culture. "He don't eat no meat!" Which she quickly follows with, "Well, I make lamb." It is such a funny moment because meat, you can tell, is the big focus of their family meals and get togethers, so it's shocking that he would not eat any meat. Have you ever had a funny moment like that happen in your family?

Growing up my family had a very colorful and versatile pallet of food. My parents cooked a variety of dishes that gave us some pretty good pallets. However, we are a pretty typical American family that has a meat as a main dish most of the time. Even if we did a salad for dinner there was almost always a meat to go with it. So, needless to say, we like our meat to. But it is always really interesting to see what things you can substitute for certain foods on your menu all the time. I have nothing against meat at all, but it can be nice to try and discover healthier alternatives or ways to make a dish without it. There are many ideas out there, but lets face it, a lot of them can be absolutely not beef! If you want a hamburger, you want a hamburger. However, there are some ideas out there that can be used in simple stir fries or dishes where a lot of meat may not be needed. One of the most famous ones I think of is Tofu. In the right dish and cooked in the right way, tofu isn't half bad. Here is a little bit about this secret meat substitute:

• First used in China around 200 B.C., tofu has long been a staple of Asian cuisine.

• Tofu soaks up flavors and is best when marinated for at least 30 minutes or served with a flavorful sauce.

• There are two types of tofu that you'll want to try: fresh, water-packed tofu (always refrigerated) for when you want the tofu to hold its shape, such as when baking or grilling, and silken tofu, which is packed in aseptic boxes and usually not refrigerated, for pureing.

• Try firm or extra-firm tofu for baking, grilling, sautéing, and frying and soft or silken tofu for creamy sauces, desserts, and dressings. Silken tofu is used for making a heavenly chocolate cream pie but will fall apart if you try to make it into shish kebab.

• When baking tofu, cook it in a marinade so it will soak up more flavor.

• To give tofu a meatier texture, try freezing it for two to 24 hours and then defrosting it.

• Press the water out of the tofu prior to preparing it. Wrap the tofu in a towel and set something heavy on top of it for at least 20 minutes, and it will be ready for marinades, sauces, freezing, and cooking.

So there you have great substitute to try out next time you want to cut back on your meat intake or just try something new. You may even shock this greeks with how good a non-meat dish can be! What foods do you use to substitute for meat in your dishes? I'd love to hear more ideas, comment below.


    Carolyn Spencer
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2015
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