Have you tried a “Impossible Burger” yet? It’s a burger made from a new plant-based meat substitute that’s been taking the world by storm this year. The ingredients are mostly soy and potato proteins. Apparently there’s over 9,000 restaurants in the U.S. that now serve some form of the “Impossible Burger”. Pretty neat, right?
Plant based meat substitutes have been the stuff of science fiction for years. There’s hardly a scifi book in existence that doesn’t have the main characters eating some kind of synthetic steak or burger. It’s the stuff of the future that has mankind eating less real animal products, living longer, and having less of an environmental impact on the world.
Outside of science fiction novels, everybody knows that eating less red meat is supposed to be far better for you. Furthermore, producing an equal amount of protein from soy beans costs less and generates far fewer greenhouse gasses than a cow farting-up a methane storm.
Synth-meat is the kind of innovation that makes complete sense when trying to feed a world population soon numbering in the tens of billions….
Except that in almost every way, eating one of these impossible burgers is worse for you than eating an actual burger.
I’m not kidding! An Impossible Burger has more calories, more salt, and more fat (more saturated fat too) than a similar size cow burger. It’s all right there in the cold-hard nutritional facts. Depending upon how you feel about genetically modified food, you might even take additional issues with “impossible burgers” (Genetic modified yeast are used to produce one of the ingredients).
Here’s the worst part for a money nerd like me — It’s expensive! An Impossible Whopper (from Burger King) costs $1 to $2 more than a traditional beef burger! (The amount varies depending on your location)
What?!? My dreams of a meat substitute that costs less, is healthier, and better for the environment have been completely shattered. I guess it was impossible after-all.
The Secret To Low Grocery Bills
You know what else I’m told is impossible? People getting their grocery bills under $800/month. I get questions all the time about how our family manages to spend so little on food. (We usually spend under $500/month on food for a family of four)
Well, I’m here to tell you the secret… and it’s really NOT a secret. The most expensive items on your grocery bill are going to be process foods and meats. The easiest way to lower your grocery bill is to cut out the process food and eat less meat.
Oh, I can hear the protests and angry comments already! It’s the truth though.
I don’t mean “stop eating meat”, I mean just eat smaller portions of meat and less frequently. For example, the Tako family probably eats red meat two times a week. Maybe we make burgers or spaghetti, and the kids love it. Then, we eat chicken or turkey twice a week, fish or shrimp one night a week, and two nights per week we eat a vegetarian meal.
It’s a balanced diet that has us eating a wide variety of the delicious foods we love.
(Note: If you’re curious, I try to post as many food pictures as I can in my monthly expense and dividend income posts)
Most importantly, it doesn’t feel like we’re depriving ourselves of the traditional red meat dishes we love. We still get to eat “all the delicious things” like steaks and burgers. We just do it less often.
As a result, our grocery budget is far lower than what many people believe is possible. I’m here to tell you it’s not impossible! We just eat less meat and process food, and add more vegetables and tofu.
Tofu Is A Super Food?
Even though my dreams of soy-based synthetic meat future have been crushed by Impossible Foods, they don’t have the facts wrong — soy based protein really is a better protein. Soy has no cholesterol, no saturated fats, and very few carbs. It’s also pretty low in calories for how much protein it contains. Somehow Impossible Foods screwed it up.
Tofu is my favorite form of soy-based protein. Not only is it super healthy, but it’s also super cheap. I can buy a one pound block of tofu like this for $1.59.
Meanwhile, a pound of hamburger has 12.9 grams of protein and costs around $2.99/lb. (For comparison: A 1lb block of tofu can have anywhere from 5 to 15 grams of protein depending upon the type.)
Tofu really is the “super food” of the future that Impossible Foods wanted to create. The only trouble is getting people to eat it…
Super Food That Makes Millionaires
The biggest problem with tofu isn’t the cost or the environmental impact… it’s the fact that western culture doesn’t have a long tradition of eating or cooking with it.
Impossible Foods solved this problem by making their soy-based protein look and taste like real meat. Then, they placed it into all the greasy burger chains across America (almost as a challenge to the die-hard meat eaters of America).
Meanwhile, tofu is seen as a “hippy food” or just for vegetarians. Which is an unfair stigma — If you pop over to Asia for vacation, you see the local cuisines use it everywhere. (I might also add that obesity is far less of a problem in Asia.)
Personally, I’d like to change this stigma. Tofu should really be seen as “Millionaire food” — powering lower food budgets and making millionaires like myself. Unlike Impossible Foods however, tofu doesn’t have billionaires funding a multi-million dollar marketing campaign for it. It only has the food to speak for it…
The simplest way for me to promote tofu is to just showcase good tofu recipes. I’ve posted one such recipe on this blog already — Japanese-style Mapo Tofu. It’s absolutely delicious.
Today I’d like to show-off another of my favorite tofu recipes. We eat it in the Tako household all the time. It’s low cost, healthy, delicious, and doesn’t even require cooking! The best part? It only takes 3 minutes to prepare!
It’s a Japanese dish called “Hiyayakko”. There’s literally thousands of variations of this simple dish that exist (the Japanese recipe website Cookpad has over 9,000 different versions)
Today I’m featuring three of my favorite Hiyayakko variants. The first of which is the most traditional form of Hiyayakko…
It’s the easiest thing in the world to make — A small block of silken tofu, chopped green onions, a little bit of grated ginger (which I forgot to add in my photo), and bonito flakes. Then, pour over a little soy sauce. Delicious, flavorful, fresh, and healthy!
The next variant is a spicier version using kimchi…
The kimchi version is just as easy. Chop-up fresh kimchi into thin strips, place on top of the tofu along with some green onions, and then pour over a little soy-sauce or Japanese tsuyu sauce. Boom! Easy peesy.
The final variant is more of a “Western fusion” variety that uses tomatoes and cucumbers…
Just mix some sliced cucumber, tomatoes, bonito flakes, some oyster sauce, and a tiny bit of sesame oil together in a separate bowl. Then plate the mixture over the tofu and drizzle with a tiny bit of soy-sauce. My kids love it!
There you go! I literally made these three versions in 10 minutes as part of tonight’s dinner. Super-easy, healthy, and they taste nothing like “bland hippy food” commonly associated with tofu.
Meaty Final Thoughts
To be fair, I’ve got nothing against Impossible Foods and their impossibly fake meat. I wish them the best. They’ve got a great corporate mission to make ‘meat’ in a environmentally sustainable way… but paying extra for less healthy “meat” doesn’t sound like a win to me.
We already have a super food that can make you a millionaire and keep you healthy at the same time. It’s called tofu.
I say “let meat be meat” and “plants be plants” instead of overcharging people for soy-based protein with costly marketing budgets. Instead, we should put more effort on learning how to cook healthy food instead of marketing fast-food garbage that’ll keep us all in the poor house.
You can love tofu for what it is AND love a good burger too. Just love it a little less often. It’s definitely not impossible.
[Image Credit: Flickr]