Susie Knows: Trick or Meat (A Plant-Based PDX Primer)

We’ve been inundated with Halloween candy and sweets for the past month and it’s going to start all over come the holidays. So today we’re going in a polar opposite direction and strategizing some heart healthier plant-based options to sprinkle into the mix. Trick or treat? The answer is BOTH.

Tricks that are treats have never been tastier with the current giant selection of faux meat and dairy-esque products in PDX and beyond. So enjoy your candy-based existence this party weekend and then if you’re looking for easy ways to lower your cholesterol or lessen your carbon footprint, here are some tricky treats (both products and PDX places) relayed to me by my plant-based pals:

“MEAT”

There are 2 kingpins in the fake meat-that-seems-like-real-meat market, both of which appear on restaurant menus and in grocery stores all over PDX: Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat. They are both scary-good and eerily similar to real hamburgers to the point where you’ll be in want of nothing once you bite into a dressed-up, juicy burger.

We prefer pea-based Beyond products but love both. They are sold in refrigerated/frozen packs of ground “beef” or pre-formed in burgers. Beyond Sausages (in casing!) are delicious and great for slicing up in pasta. Impossible sausage tubes (savory or spicy) are perfect for breakfast scrambles.

Now, there are ENDLESS possibilities of ways to use these faux meats as they are fantastic substitutes for recipes that call for ground beef or sausage. Here are 2 of our go-to home-cooked favorites:

Recipe for Fancy Ramen
A bowl of ramen noodles topped with Beyond Beef and jalapenos
A recipe for Burger Salad

Beyond and Impossible Burgers have popped up on menus ALL over PDX…I love Keys Lounge’s Impossible Burger and Bar Bar’s affordable Beyond burger out on their sweet covered patio.

Beyond and Impossible burgers are both semi-frequently on sale at Fred Meyer and the best deal lately is in the frozen section at Grocery Outlet (4 burgers for $6.99…shhh that’s our little secret).

A group of vegan products: Earth Balance, Vegenaise, Silk Soy Milk, Just Egg and fake cheese slices in a plastic container.
Meet the team!

“CHEESE”

While most PDX meat-eaters I know are pleasantly, nay, JOYOUSLY surprised when they bite into a perfectly-prepped Beyond Burger, cheese-a-holics still may have to wait for their faux cheese apotheosis…but significant strides have been made in the last few years. Here are some brands we love:

Miyoko’s feta for Greek salads. All of their products we’ve tried are a cut above.

Violife or Follow Your Heart shreds (great melt) … casseroles, nachos, homemade pizza.

Violife for parmesan.

Treeline … for a spreadable option on a fancy cheese plate.

Weird bonus: Being that American cheese slices are a bizarro science experiment in themselves … it seems they’ve been the easiest of the cheese products to replicate. So Delicious and Daiya’s versions both melt and hit that salty spot … great for breakfast sandwiches and grilled cheese.

“BUTTER” 

Earth Balance or Miyoko’s. Both fabulous.

“MAYONNAISE”

Vegenaise. Skip the experimentation with other brands and go straight to the King, loved by even the stubbornest of mayo-haters. Vegenaise is the key to unlocking the universe of plant-based creamy salad dressing or kicking up a burger.

“MILK”

You probably already have an alt-milk of choice but now that it’s cold out we just have one suggestion: Milk frother. Turn your morning coffee into a vacation. Our favorite frothings lately have been with Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk and Silk Original Almond Milk. 

Mug of coffee topped with frothy soy milk
Heavenly froth cloud courtesy of Silk Unsweetened Soy Milk.

“EGG”

Just Egg – sold in a plastic container of gloop in the egg aisle – is kinda, sorta mindblowing on a breakfast sandwich. It really hits that egg spot. We also love it in a breakfast casserole/scramble and in stir-fry based dishes like fried rice, pad wood sen & Pad Thai. Available at Fred Meyer, Whole Foods, New Seasons, etc

“CREAM CHEESE”

Trader Joe’s to the rescue. Their Vegan Cream Cheese is the very best of the fake cream cheeses. Spread on a bagel/toast & top with their Everything Seasoning! It subs for regular cream cheese pretty well in recipes too. Even cake frosting.

And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for where we pause the “healthy” talk but maintain that plant-based lifestyle:

PIZZA . PIZZA. PIZZA.

Boxcar Pizza. CASE CLOSED. Located in the Zipper on Sandy Blvd, this Detroit-style pizza (A thick, pan-baked rectangle) is absolutely OOZING with melt. Get the “Animal Style” loaded with faux pepperoni and sausage and pair it with the glorious garlic cheesy bread and you can feed and WOW 3/4ish people. Do not forget the ranch dipping sauce.

Slice of pizza from Boxcar Pizza
Photo from Boxcar Pizza on Instagram.

Other PDX Pizza Faves

You can’t go wrong with either vegan option at Dove Vivi: Roasted Veggie or Corn Cashew.

Whole pizza from Dove Vivi
Corn Cashew from Dove Vivi

Virtuous Pie on Division is spectacular. Sizzle Pie always has a vegan slice at the ready (pair it with the Rabbits salad to experience the tastiest vegan ranch on Earth … now available in larger 8 oz tubs for $4.)

Ok now let’s get back to the healthy talk and finish strong with one last accidentally plant-based delight:

Avocado Toast c/o PDX

This tasty toast incorporates 2 ingredients made close to home: Grand Central bread and Mama Lil’s Peppers (both available at Fred Meyer). And it’s so easy that you might think twice before ever ordering avocado toast at a restaurant again!

Recipe for avocado toast

We could go on and on but we’ll stop there for now! Do you have questions for my plant-based PDX sparrows? Want more recipes? Need more tricks? Send along any inquiries to me. And when in doubt, JUST ADD KALE. Happy Halloween!

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