August 6, 2011

Harmony Valley makes going meatless painless! {review}

We've all heard it over and over... eat less red meat. But that's kinda hard to do when you grab a burger on the run or want to present that perfect pot roast dinner.

So unless you are a vegetarian, the only solution is to cut back on the amount of meat you eat. Even one or two meatless meals a week is better than nothing.

Harmony Valley Vegetarian Mixes make it easy to go meatless and still have great hamburger texture and flavor.
Harmony Valley Vegetarian Mix for hamburger consists of wheat gluten and soy flour. Spices are added to enhance the flavor. Each package makes 1 lb. of "meatless hamburger" that is low in calories, fat, and carbohydrates but high in fiber, protein, and iron.
And it's so simple to use! Just mix one package with 1 1/4 cups cold water, then let it stand at least 15 minutes in the refrigerator. That's all there is to it.

This is what the dry mix looks like before adding water:
And here's what it looks like after it has hydrated in the refrigerator:

Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix is ideal as a meat substitute for so many recipes, but I wanted to try it as a substitute for plain ol' hamburger meat in a pasta dish.

So I fried the vegetarian mix just like I would hamburger meat, but since there is no "fat" in the Harmony Valley mix, I added about a tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet so it wouldn't stick to the pan. I cooked it on medium heat and even with the olive oil I still had to stir constantly to keep it from sticking and burning. But in the end it cooked and crumbled nicely, just like you want hamburger to do.
I added it to some cooked 8-whole-grain pasta shells and pasta sauce sprinkled with grated Romano cheese.
Except for some sea salt I added to the boiling water for the pasta, I added NO SALT or other seasonings.

So how did it taste? Well... I can honestly say that even though I knew it wasn't hamburger, it could easily have fooled anyone for texture and appearance. As for taste, it tasted a bit like "vegetables"... I can't really describe it except to say that it doesn't taste like "meat" at all, but it's a pleasant taste overall and the seasonings are spot on. With the 8-whole-grain pasta, it was definitely a hearty dish!

If you find that you just can't give up meat completely, you can always mix some Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix with your ground beef to stretch it and make it overall healthier. In soups, casseroles, and pasta dishes, I don't think anyone would be the wiser.

I was sent one package of the Vegetarian Hamburger Mix to try, and I love pasta dishes, so I wanted to see how it does as "ground beef". But I do believe that it would probably work better as grilled patties or meatloaf. It does have a nice sticky consistency that won't easily fall apart, but frying it up in the pan like ground beef can be a bit tricky. For one thing, the color didn't change (or maybe only slightly) so it was difficult to tell if it was "done" or not. And with no fat, it does tend to stick to the pan.

So the bottom line is that I honestly don't know if I can recommend this as a "ground beef" substitute if you're using it in recipes where it needs to be fried like hamburger. But if you're just looking for an alternative meat substitute for a few meals a week, you can't go wrong with Harmony Valley Vegetarian Mixes.

They also make a Vegetarian Sausage Style Mix for breakfast! I love sausage, so I'd really like to try that. Sounds like it would be a great alternative for pizza too!

Harmony Valley may not be available in your area yet, but you can order it online. And there's a locator on their website that will help you find it locally.

Bottom line: Yes, I would heartily recommend Harmony Valley Vegetarian Mixes as a viable alternative to meat.

(Disclosure: Harmony Valley provided a product to help facilitate this review. However my opinions are my own and I received no monetary consideration.)