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Price of meat getting you down? Try these tasty alternatives

With meat prices predicted to increase by seven to nine per cent this year, more Canadians may be looking into meatless cooking. Here are a few recipes to try.

Tofu 'meatloaf' or black bean burger, anyone?

Sarah Forrester Wendt serves a mostly vegan menu at My Plum, My Duck, including her original tofu meatloaf (right). (Submitted by Sarah Forrester Wendt)

With meat prices predicted to increase by seven to nine per cent this year, more Canadians may be looking into meatless cooking.

Whether you're a dedicated vegan who knows exactly where to find the TVP (textured vegetable protein), or a newbie who's never tasted tofu, here are a few recipes to try that may save a few bucks at the butcher.

1. Tofu 'meatloaf'

Sarah Forrester Wendt has just opened a new restaurant, My Plum, My Duck, in Charlottetown with a 98 per cent vegan menu — that means, no animal products at all including dairy and eggs. She also focuses on organic and whole foods — meaning, not processed. 

The flavours in meat-free cooking can be just as satisfying.— Ilona Daniel, chef

Her tofu "meatloaf," from a cookbook she wrote 16 years ago, is a popular special at the restaurant. 

She serves it with mashed potatoes and a variety of roasted vegetables. 

Forrester Wendt shared her recipe — and revealed she has a new cookbook in the works. 

  • 1 1/2 lb. fresh firm tofu, grated.
  • 1/3 cup  carrot or tomato puree.
  • 1/3 cup  soy sauce.
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard.
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley, washed and finely chopped.
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper.
  • 1 onion, finely chopped.
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder.
  • 1 cup rolled oats.
  • 1 cup mushrooms, diced.
  • 1 carrot, grated.
  • 1 tbsp honey, or sugar, or rice syrup.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix all ingredients together. Brush one tablespoon if oil into a loaf pan. Press all of the mixture into the pan. Bake for 1 hour, then let cool for 15 minutes before trying to remove from pan.

It's also delicious sliced and fried for sandwiches, Forrester Wendt says.

Optional sauce: 

  • 1/4 cup tomato puree.
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce.
  • 1/2 cup water.
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (optional).

Mix ingredients together, pour over loaf.

Sarah Forrester Wendt makes a tasty vegan meatloaf that's a favourite with guests and customers. (Submitted by Sarah Forrester Wendt)

2. Black bean burger

Fouad Haddad, owner of Downtown Deli in Charlotttown, offered his easy black bean burger recipe.

This black bean burger from Fouad Haddad from Downtown Deli in Charlottetown is hearty and substantial. (Submitted by Fouad Haddad )

"Normally it's a cucumber feta sauce or tzatiki sauce and veggies of your choice. But you can do whatever you want," Haddad said. 

For the burger: 

  • 1 small onion, chopped (140g).
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (175g).
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (140g).
  • 2 cups cooked or canned black beans (340g).
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder.
  • 1 tsp salt.
  • 1 tsp cumin.
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup.
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil.
  • Tomatoes and lettuce for toppings, and buns of choice.

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a food processor, pulse onion, cooked rice, breadcrumbs, black beans, chili powder, salt, cumin and ketchup and mix until well combined (about 15 seconds).

Divide mixture into four portions and form into patties. Place the patties on an oiled baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes, turn over the patties and continue cooking for 10 minutes adding oil if necessary.

3. Grilled tofu kebabs

This is my own creation, many variations of which can be found on the internet — grilled tofu kebabs are fast, easy and a great veggie alternative or addition when you are grilling for a crowd.

Tofu takes on the flavours of whatever you spice it with — think sriracha and liquid smoke. (Shutterstock/stockcreations)

First, soak kebab skewers for several minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill. 

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce.
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil.
  • squirt of sriracha sauce, or more if you like it hot.
  • 3-4 drops liquid smoke.
  • garlic and onion powder to taste.
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • couple generous pinches chili powder.
  • 1 package 350 grams) extra-firm tofu, diced into about 30 2-cm cubes.

You can add any vegetables you like — I use:

  • mushrooms, whole or halved, if large.
  • red onion cut in chunks.
  • peppers, (green, red, orange and yellow) cut into chunks.
  • miniature tomatoes of any kind.
  • small zucchini, sliced about 1 cm thick.

Mix together soy, sriracha, oil, liquid smoke and spices in large bowl. Add tofu, veggies, and marinate for a minimum of about 20 minutes. Thread veggies and tofu on skewers, with three to 4 chunks of tofu per kebab. 

Grill on hot grill three to five minutes per side — you want brown grill marks, not black charring. Serve hot and enjoy.  

What you said

Hannah Elizabeth Bell said "chickpea curry, quinoa and roasted sweet potato salad, and lentil stew are all simple yummy favs in our house — cheap and cheerful."

Chef Ilona Daniel has developed menus for several Charlottetown restuarants and stars in a new cooking show in production, Islander's Kitchen.  

"I've been a big fan of utilizing Textured Vegetable Protein to make 'meatballs,' or 'meatloaves,' Daniel shared on Facebook.

"The flavours in meat-free cooking can be just as satisfying — you just need to be sure to use big flavours and complimentary fats like those found in nut butters," she advised, adding "food cost is always an issue in everyone's kitchen."

More meatless recipe ideas: red lentil ragu skillets, vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian cabbage rolls, and other vegetarian mains

The CBC lifestyle show The Goods cooked up these skillets using red lentils — lentils soak up whatever they're flavoured with, and are meaty and satisfying. (CBC)

About the Author

Sara Fraser

Web Journalist

Sara is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours) degree. She's worked with CBC Radio and Television since 1988, moving to the CBC P.E.I. web team in 2015, focusing on weekend features. email sara.fraser@cbc.ca