Meat Alternatives: How Do They Stack Up?

Last week I wrote about milk alternatives and how they compare to cow’s milk. This week, we will look at meat alternatives. There are lots of meat alternatives available but how do these meat alternatives stack up nutritionally? And what about cost? Let’s take a look. We have chosen ground beef as a comparison since it is a very commonly chosen animal protein.

 AmountProtein (grams)Saturated Fat (grams)Iron*Sodium*Cost
Ground beef (85/15)4 oz21715% 3%5.99/16 oz
Beyond Meat Beyond Beef®4 oz20520% 15%9.99/16 oz
Impossible™ Burger4 oz19820%16%9.99/12 oz
Tofu4 oz11.611%0%2.99/16 oz
Canned Jackfruit½ cup2020%37%3.49/14 oz

*5% is considered a low source, 20% is considered a high source

Beyond Meat®, which is gluten- and soy-free, is very similar to ground beef in protein content, as is the ImpossibleTM Burger, which contains soy. Tofu is lower in protein than ground beef, but still provides 11 grams in 4 ounces. Jackfruit is low in protein so should not be eaten as main source of protein.

Looking at saturated fat:

  • Beyond Meat® contains 25% of the daily value of saturated fat, similar to 90/10 ground beef.
  • The ImpossibleTM Burger contains 40% of the daily value of saturated fat, similar to 80/20 ground beef.
  • Tofu and jackfruit are both very low in saturated fat.

There are other nutrients that are important to consider, too. Meat is a main dietary source of iron. Iron is not present in most meat alternatives unless they have been fortified (like the ImpossibleTM Burger), so check the label. Finally, most meat alternatives have higher levels of sodium than ground beef. Both Beyond Meat® and the ImpossibleTM Burger are higher in sodium. Tofu is very low in sodium. The jackfruit used in the comparison is canned, so it has a high level of sodium. Other sources of jackfruit may be lower in sodium.

In addition to nutrition, cost also varies among meat alternatives. Beyond Meat® and the ImpossibleTM Burger are both more expensive than ground beef, while tofu and canned jackfruit are less expensive.

As you can see, there are many nutritional differences between meat alternatives. Therefore, it is important to check the Nutrition Facts label when considering meat alternatives or other foods that are new to you. This way, you can choose the best option for your health needs.

Written by Anna Lauterbach, ISU Dietetics Student


Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Got Milk (Alternatives)?

If you’ve taken a walk through the dairy aisle during the past couple of years, you’ve probably noticed a lot of new products popping up on the shelves, like oat milk or almond milk. As a lactose intolerant person, I have been enjoying this new variety of food options, but as a nutrition student, I wonder about the nutritional value of these products compared to cow’s milk.

If you’re lactose intolerant like me, you can get lactose-free cow’s milk. If you can’t drink any cow’s milk, there are many other options, but it is important to be aware of the differences in nutrients. Unless they are fortified with calcium, and vitamins A, B and D, you may find these are missing from milk alternatives. I have listed some significant differences below, but there may be others, so check the Nutrition Facts label of any products you are considering.

  • Soy milk is the most similar to cow’s milk nutritionally including having a similar amount of protein per serving. However, added flavors like original or vanilla have added sugars.
  • Almond milk has about ¼ of the calories of cow’s milk, but it is low in protein. Additionally, it is not fortified with vitamin B12 like other milk alternatives, so it may not be the best option if you are vegetarian or vegan.
  • Coconut milk contains more saturated fats, so it may not be the best option if you have heart disease.
  • Rice milk is an option for people who are allergic to soy or nuts. However, it has twice the carbs of regular milk and little protein, so you may want to consider other options if you have diabetes.

A note on dairy alternatives for other products: Increasingly, there are more dairy alternatives for other products such as yogurt and cream cheese. Many of these products will have a different nutritional value from the dairy products they are imitating. These differences are due in part to the type of dairy alternative they are using. For instance, coconut milk yogurt will be higher in saturated fat. However, some of these products may also have added sugars to make the product taste better. Always read and compare the Nutrition Facts label to ensure you are getting the best product for your needs!

Written by Anna Lauterbach, ISU Dietetics Student

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Baba Ganoush

Have you ever eaten eggplant? Many years ago, I had eggplant at a restaurant and it was not good, so I thought I must not like it. Fast forward to a few years ago, when a student in our office told me I had to try this eggplant recipe – Baba Ganoush. I knew I did not like eggplant, but she ensured me I would like this recipe. So, my children and I went to the farmers market that weekend and bought a beautiful purple and white eggplant and I made Baba Ganoush for the first time. It turns out that, although that restaurant meal was not great, I actually really like eggplant.

Our September recipe of the month is Baba Ganoush thanks to a student who pushed me outside of my comfort zone. If eggplant is also outside of your comfort zone, this recipe is a great way to try it out. You can use Baba Ganoush in the same way you would use hummus – as a dip or a spread or in our Zucchini Hummus Wraps. Eggplant is in season now, so you can easily find one at the grocery store or farmers market. To find out how to choose and store an eggplant, read our Eggplant Produce Basics.

To give eggplant a try, you can follow the full Baba Ganoush recipe: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/baba-ganoush/

Enjoy!

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Update from Justine – What do I Grow?

In early June, I wrote about how I decide what to grow in our garden. When planning out our garden this year, I asked my children what they wanted to grow. My oldest son chose to grow four different pepper plants, my daughter chose to grow romaine lettuce, and my youngest son chose to grow zinnias. These choices did not take up a lot of space, so I added two tomato plants and two acorn squash plants. 

My children checked the garden every day and helped with the watering and weeding. Their plants took off and were looking good, but nature had other plans. We left for a few days and, while we were gone, the rabbits helped themselves to the lettuce, pepper leaves, and zinnias. The children were disappointed, but they have worked hard to keep two of the pepper plants and a few zinnias alive.

My children have also worked hard to protect the tomatoes and squash. As you can see in the picture below, that hard work has paid off. The tomatoes and squash have nearly taken over the garden. We have enjoyed watching the flowers bloom and then watching those blooms transform into beautiful tomatoes and squash. My children do not like to eat tomatoes and squash on their own, but they do like both in sauces and soups. So, we are planning to cook and freeze much of our harvest to use for meals this winter.

Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Can It, Freeze It, Dry It

Over the past few weeks we’ve shared how our gardens are growing (Christine, Katy, and Jody ). And next week Justine will give us an update about her garden. Eating delicious home-grown food is a joy of gardening, so it has been fun to review the ways we use our garden produce. While fresh produce from the garden is delicious, sometimes you have so much you need to save it for later.

Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has many food preservation resources, including virtual and in person classes. Preserve the Taste of Summer offers participants the opportunity to learn safe food preservation techniques, including canning, freezing and dehydrating. For more information and to find a class, check out https://www.extension.iastate.edu/humansciences/preserve-taste-summer.


Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Jody’s Garden Update- How Did the Garden Grow?

Three months ago I shared that my son was interested in having a garden and we decided to do container gardening on our deck and grow tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce. Our neighbors also gave us a pot with a strawberry plant in it. Well how did the garden grow? Really well! My son helped with the planting and both my son and daughter helped me water it so it has been a fun group endeavor. We all enjoy checking on the plants each morning to see what new things have grown. We’ve gotten a number of peppers and tomatoes and we’ve harvested our lettuce 6 times!

We’ve used our produce on Lentil Tacos, for bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches, on hamburgers, in salads, and to make fresh salsa.

I wasn’t sure how things were going to go since the first time I tried container gardening it didn’t go so well. This goes to show that even though something might not work the first time you try, don’t give up. Use the lessons you learned from past experiences and try again.

Next week Justine will share her gardening update. What do you think Justine and her kids decided to grow in their garden?

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Meal Planning Tips for Easy and Healthy Meals

There are sixteen days until my kids start school! Along with school starting, my kids will also be starting football, dance, and piano so our schedule is going to get busy. One thing that helps me feel less stressed when life gets busy is meal planning. By spending 30 minutes on the weekend planning meals for the week, I spend less time worrying about what we will eat for supper each night. I know my family isn’t the only one looking ahead to a busy fall, so today I wanted to share three tips I use when meal planning that you might find helpful.

  1. Pick a theme for each night. Some common themes I’ve heard before are Meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, or Pizza on Friday. When you have a theme, it’s one less decision you have to make. On Tuesday, you know you are going to have tacos so you just have to decide what kind of tacos you want. The ‘themes’ I use are a little different. I have a different protein food for each night. And one night is always leftovers or make your own. I stock up on meat, fish and chicken when it is on sale and put it in my freezer. Here are some Spend Smart. Eat Smart. recipes for each kind of protein you might like to try. Not only does this make planning easy for me, but it also helps us vary our proteins which is important for good nutrition.
Beef/PorkFishChickenVegetarianLeftovers
Slow Cooker RoastBroiled SalmonQuick Pad ThaiStuffed Pasta ShellsWraps “Your” Way
Beef and Vegetable Stir-FryBaked Fish and ChipsChicken FajitasVegetable Frittata
Sweet Pork Stir-FryFish and Noodle SkilletCheesy Chicken CasseroleVegetable Quesadillas
  1. Make one dish meals. I make a lot of one dish meals because it makes my life easier. There are fewer dishes to do afterward and the only other thing I have to add to the meal is some fruit and something to drink, like milk or water. My kids don’t eat a lot of vegetables so I always include a fruit I know they will eat.
  1. Keep side dishes simple. Even though I like to cook, after a busy day when everyone is hungry I need to get supper done quickly. So in addition to making a lot of one dish meals, I always keep my side dishes simple. We eat a lot of cut up fruits and vegetables as sides. Some of our favorites are apples, carrots, and pepper strips. I also use a lot of frozen vegetables that I can heat quickly in the microwave. In the colder months, I like to make roasted vegetables.

For more ideas and resources on meal planning, check out the menu planning section of our Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website.

Jody Gatewood

Jody Gatewood is a Registered Dietitian who enjoys spending time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals for her family. She does lots of meal planning to stay organized and feed her family nutritious meals.

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Crunchy Coleslaw

Our August recipe of the month is Crunchy Coleslaw. This refreshing recipe is one of my favorites. It keeps in the refrigerator for up to four days, but I eat it for any meal or snack so it is usually gone in a day or two. To make this recipe, you break apart a package of dry ramen noodles and add them to a bowl with coleslaw mix, green onions, and a homemade dressing. This recipe is best if you let it marinate in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving.

Reading about the progress in Christine and Katy’s gardens has me thinking about using fresh cabbage for this recipe instead of a bag of coleslaw. I rarely use fresh cabbage, so I looked it up on our Produce Basics. To use a fresh cabbage for this recipe, all I need to do is remove any wilted outer leaves, wash it, cut out the core, and chop it into thin strips. If I spy a cabbage at the farmers market, I think I will give it a try.

Find the full recipe: https://spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu/recipe/crunchy-coleslaw/

Enjoy!


Justine Hoover

Justine Hoover is a Registered Dietitian and mom who loves to cook for her family.

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Enjoying the Fruits of Labor

A few months ago, I wrote a blog about the neighborhood garden that my family contributes to during the spring and summer. My husband and I do not have green thumbs, so we have enjoyed participating in a neighborhood garden that our neighbor, Jen, has created in her backyard to share with a few of us who live nearby.

This summer has been tough on our neighbor’s garden. She has had to fend off several hungry pests over the past few months and has dealt with drought making it difficult to produce as much as she has in years past. Although the garden was off to a slower start, she has been able to share beans, eggplant, cucumbers, zucchini, hot peppers, and a few tomatoes. In the next month or so, we are hopeful to see purple and blue potatoes, butternut squash, bell peppers, carrots, and additional greens like chard, spinach, and lettuce. Here is a picture of my toddler, Brynn, with the tomato plant that she helped with in May. Somehow, she has developed a green thumb and her tomato plant is the biggest one in Jen’s garden!

I love using my neighbor’s produce in my recipes. There is something to be said about the taste of a fresh grown vegetable compared to purchasing one from our local grocery store. A few of my favorite recipes that I have made so far this summer include making Whole Wheat Pizza Dough with hot peppers and tomatoes, as well as Vegetable Quesadillas and Zucchini Hummus Wraps with zucchini and eggplant. I also make the Vegetable Dip to enjoy with cut up veggies for a quick and easy snack.

I am looking forward to enjoying the other produce that will be grown in our neighbor’s garden over the next few months. Now that Brynn is learning the ins and outs of gardening from our neighbor, maybe we will attempt our own garden next spring!

Cheers to enjoying the fruits of labor!

Katy Moscoso

Katy Moscoso is a Program Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. As a new mom she is always on the lookout for easy, healthy recipes to prepare for her family.

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Update from Christine – Herb Gardening in Small Spaces

Back in May, I wrote a blog related to how I like to grow herbs at my house. I do not have a good space in my yard to dig up a garden, so I use containers instead. Herbs are a great food to start out with if you are new to gardening. They grow very well in Iowa summers and take up a small amount of space. Not to mention, fresh herbs are quite expensive at the grocery store and can spoil quickly. Growing them at home gives you the pleasure of fresh herbs for far less money.

Here is a picture of how my herbs look about seven weeks after planting. They have all grown up quite a lot. I use the thyme and rosemary once or twice per week. I tend to use them to season chicken before I grill it or vegetables before I roast them. I use the basil almost every day because I love basil with cottage cheese and chopped tomatoes. I also like to clip a few stems of each and put them in a jar on my kitchen counter just because they smell so nice. Even with frequent use, the plants are still very large.

I had to make one change back in the spring. After a couple of weeks of growth, it was clear that my planter was too crowded, so I removed the parsley plant gently and put it in a flowerpot by itself. That gave all of the plants enough room to grow well.

How are your food plants doing? Have you tried anything that is new to you this year?

Happy gardening!
Christine

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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