Finding ways to make plant-based meals appeal to your whole family can be a challenge when you come from a “meat and potato” type of family. Luckily, we have many products on the market these days to replace traditional animal-based protein options. While I am an enthusiastic proponent of making your own mock meats (because you can make fat-free versions in a variety of flavors), using the Beyond Meat and Impossible (now gluten free) meat substitutions can save you a lot of time and help appease the “meat” eaters of your family while still going plant-based. In general, due to the fat content, I wouldn’t recommend consuming these products more than a couple of times a month. You may also be lucky enough to find some lentil and grain or even hemp-based options at your local grocer that are lower in fat.
Since my blog only uses gluten free options, I like to offer up a few tips for using the gluten free products to help increase your chances of successful meals. The noodles I prefer to use are either the Trader Joe’s gluten free brown rice noodle products, or Tinkyáda products. I find these are the best gluten free noodles around, keeping their shape for the longest time and having a neutral traditional pasta taste. In general, I try to cook any gluten free noodles separately from the dish and add it in at the end to prevent it absorbing all of the fluid and falling apart. Store your cooked pasta and stew separately and blend together after reheating. The same goes for the meat substitutions you use, keep them separate and mix in your serving bowl only. The faux meats can easily overpower any dish they are added to.
1 cup sweet potato, chopped into small cubes (also try butternut squash, kabocha squash, or pumpkin cubes)
1/2 large purple onion, finely chopped (2/3 a cup of chopped green onion also works)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 cup fire roasted corn (riced or regular and chopped cauliflower works as a substitute here as well, texture-wise)
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrots, cut into small cubes or shape of choice
1.5 cups kale, chopped into thin slices or squares (remove the firm stems before chopping as they can be hard to chew and blend)
1 Tb fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tb fresh cilantro, chopped (optional; not everyone can eat cilantro)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 bouillon cube, vegetable flavored
40 oz low sodium vegetable broth
1 tsp black pepper, cracked
1 tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
Beyond Meat patties (we prefer the seasoning of these to the crumbles)
2-4 cups cooked gluten free pasta of choice (make only enough for the current meal and prepare fresh pasta when reheating soup if using leftovers; gluten-free pasta is best fresh)
- In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, sauté your onions, carrots and celery over medium heat using canola oil cooking spray initially and then switching to steam frying using water or broth. Cook 3 minutes then add in the garlic and cook for another 1-3 minutes until onions are translucent.
- Add your sweet potatoes and 1/2 a cup of the vegetable broth and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes with the lid on.
- Add all of the remaining soup ingredients except cilantro. Lower heat to low or low/medium and continue to cook for 30-60 minutes. Begin checking that potatoes are done by piercing them with a fork at the 30 minute mark. Once potatoes are easily speared on a fork, the soup is done. You want your infant or toddler to easily mash the veggies in their mouth.
- While the soup is cooking, cook your Beyond Meat patties using a wooden spatula to break them up into crumbles. Once done, strain on paper towels to remove excess fat.
- At the same time, cook your gluten free pasta and then rinse with cold water to help maintain shape and texture. Spray with olive oil cooking spray and toss so the pasta stays separated until serving.
- Once the soup is done, remove the bay leaves and add in the cilantro before cooling.
- Cool soup at least 10 minutes before ladling out to serve. Always check the temperature for your infant or toddler on the inner skin of your wrist or using infant safety spoons.
- Serve soup by ladling into bowls and topping with meat crumbles and cooked pasta.