Extra Helping of Meat-Free Assistance

Yesterday's vegetarian edition of What's Cooking covered a lot of ground, from dairy-free fats to a veggie-omnivore sex appeal debate.

In response to one reader's query about meatless cooking classes in the Washington area, I mentioned Mimi Clark, of Fairfax, Va., who's been offering her Veggie Gourmet vegan cooking classes for the past 18 years.

In a note that arrived after the chat, Mimi shared a few extra tidbits to add the conversation. Below, some of her thoughts:

To the person who has a gluten sensitivity, tofu is not the only sub. There is also TVP, a defatted soy product that comes dehydrated (Bob's Red Mill is one of the manufacturers), and tempeh which you mentioned earlier.

Tempeh is more of a whole food than tofu because it is made from whole soybeans, unlike tofu which is made from cracked, coagulated soybeans. In addition, tempeh is a fermented food which is great for digestion.

In response to the reader who's looking for a smoky meatless substitute that can mimic pork, Mimi suggests "ready-to-eat SoyBoy Smoked Tofu which you could cube and add to the stir-fry at the last minute."

When it comes to the aforementioned dairy-free fat issue, Mimi gives a big high-five to the Earth Balance brand. "Earth Balance or Soy Garden spreads can be used 1:1 for butter (but not the "organic" green and white container because it has too much air whipped into it). Earth Balance shortening makes an awesome, non-hydrogenated buttercream icing!"

Speaking of icing, Mimi is offering a Retro Dessert class, with New York pastry chef Fran Costigan, who apparently has perfected the art of making a vegan Twinkie. This I gotta see.

The three-hour session is scheduled for Sunday, July 22. For details, call: 703-643- 2713

More gluten-free protein ideas: "As a healthy meat substitute, in addition to quinoa, do consider millet -- it's a (very) high protein grain, which does not contain wheat. Cook it like rice and combine it with whatever veggies/nuts/seeds you have on hand. Millet has a very nice nutty taste and I'm completely hooked on it," writes a reader in Washington, D.C.

I would also explore buckwheat, which is not a cereal grain but the dried seed of a fruit related to rhubarb and sorrel. You know kasha? That's another name for roasted buckwheat, which has a nutty flavor with a hearty chew. Buckwheat crepes anyone?

And for those in need of a cheat sheet on vegetarian proteins, have a look at this handy reference page from the foodies at
BBC online.

Finally, a healthy serving of mock-meat advice from a Washington area reader: "For the reader who doesn't want to eat meat but craving chopped liver: Do you have a car? Head to Sunflower in Vienna, Va. Great mock meats that satisfy every omnivore I've ever taken there. Get the fried chicken and General Tso's."

There's no such thing too much brilliance, so please shred your meatless pearls of wisdom in the comments area below.

And now, I've got to dash and get in line for tickets to see "Ratatouille," the latest animated dish from Pixar. The Post's Desson Thomson appreciates the film's old-school animation tricks, and here's a restaurant critic's take on the cinematic culinary details.

Have a delicious weekend!

By Kim ODonnel |  June 29, 2007; 10:08 AM ET Chat Leftovers , Vegetarian/Vegan
Previous: Getting Fresh: Snap Beans | Next: Tasting 'Ratatouille'


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Quorn mushroom protein fake chicken nuggets are the better than the real thing, absolutely amazing. My meat eating boyfriend prefers them to actual chicken, too. And its not soy, but is still high in protein.

Posted by: jen | June 29, 2007 2:13 PM

Try the sausage style "Gimme Lean". It comes in a tube and is usually found in the produce aisle where they sell the tofu and wonton wrappers.

I avoided "Gimme Lean" for years because of its goofy name, but... dang if that stuff isn't good! And fat-free! My meat-eating sister tells me it's the closest thing she's ever tasted to real pork sausage -- only without the nasty gristly part.

Posted by: Rebecca | July 6, 2007 9:41 AM

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