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An easy way to add vegetarian meals to your family menus is to purchase alternative protein options. A few familiar brands are Morning Star Farms, Boca, and QuornMorning Star Farms and Boca products are made from organic soy; and Quorn uses high-protein fungi (it’s not as bad as it sounds—think mushrooms). They are low in fat and high in protein for a direct meat substitute. The above links offer many delicious recipes. For more on protein, read this.

There are vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes everywhere. Look in your grocery’s freezer or deli department and try one out. 

A few of my favorites:

  • Morning Star Farms Veggie Bacon Strips. Try them in a bacon (veggie) burger. Crumble them on salads or bean soups.
  • Quorn’s Naked Chik’n Cutlet served with a pineapple sweet and sour sauce and black rice. Or cut them into strips and add to sautéed peppers and onions and serve in a wrap with black beans and salsa. Or place strips on a plate of greens with toasted nuts, dried cranberries or mandarin oranges, green onions and raspberry dressing.
  • Boca sausage patties. I like one occasionally in the morning following my green smoothie.

My children, who have given up the vegetarian options, still fondly remember a family favorite using Boca Burgers. I’ve given the recipe below. In fact, my daughter called me one day for the recipe—she’d even bought the Boca Burgers for it. I adapted it from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.

Italian Burgers over Pasta    (serves 4—or more if small children eat half portions.)

Ingredients:

  • 4 Boca Burgers
  • Pan spray
  • oil
  • 4 oz. vegetarian sausage crumbles (may crumble Boca sausage patties.)
  • ½ C. chopped onion
  • 1 8oz. can tomato sauce
  • ¾ C. apple juice
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tb. cornstarch
  • Hot buttered egg noodles.

Start water boiling for noodles. During preparation of sauce, cook noodles. In oil-sprayed skillet, brown burgers, remove from pan. In a small amount of oil, sauté onions until translucent. Add sausage crumbles, tomato sauce, apple juice, garlic, salt, oregano and pepper. Heat and stir to boiling. Add burgers to skillet. Cover and simmer about 3 minutes. Remove burgers and keep them warm. Mix cornstarch and 2 T. cold water; stir into skillet. Cook and stir until bubbly. Place noodles on platter, lay out burgers in an overlapping row, and top with sauce down the middle. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a green vegetable and apple juice.

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