For many (including us), a new year means a fresh start and an opportunity to change up old habits. Following the release of the new Canada Food Guide, more and more Canadians are looking for ways to incorporate a plant-based diet in 2020. With a variety of plant-based options on the market it can be challenging to choose the best way to incorporate these foods into our diets and identify the nutritional value. We chatted with Tori Wesszer of Fraiche Nutrition fame about a brand-new product, Beyond Beef, that she's been incorporating into her own yummy recipes to add a plant-based boost to her family's diet. —Noa Nichol
Hi Tori! Please tell us a bit about yourself to start.
I’m a food and lifestyle blogger with a passion for helping women live more simple, healthy lives. As a working mom of two young boys, I know first-hand how challenging it can be to feed a family with a busy schedule. I spend a lot of my time coming up with healthy meal ideas that are family friendly and ways to involve the kids in the kitchen. Oh, I have a background in nutrition and loved studying to be a dietitian—nutrition is such a fascinating field!
Plants, we're familiar with; same with protein. But what exactly is plant-based protein?!
Great question. It’s exactly as it sounds, protein that comes from plants! There are two main sources of protein in our diets: protein from animal sources and protein from plant sources. Once upon a time we thought that plant proteins needed to be combined in specific ways at a given meal to be "complete," but we now know that as long as you eat a variety of plant sources of protein throughout a day your body will be able to utilize the plant protein that you eat in a comparable way to how it uses animal protein.
We're really intrigued by the new Beyond Beef product—what is it, what is it's nutritional value and how, in your opinion, does it compare to traditional ground beef?
Beyond Beef is a plant-based ground that was created as a way to replace ground beef in recipes. It is made from a variety of plant-based ingredients including rice, mung beans and pea protein, to name a few. From a nutrition perspective, it has 35 per cent less saturated fat, less total fat, no cholesterol and more iron versus traditional regular ground beef (the sodium is a bit higher than ground beef—but it’s rare that you wouldn’t add salt to your beef to season, so it’s hard to compare this value directly). In terms of the environmental impact, the difference is significant. Beyond Beef requires far less land, water and other resources to produce versus ground beef and, of course, no cows are harmed in the process. And it has a true meaty texture and taste; I find that there really isn’t a compromise in that department.
There are other "ground round" products out there—how does Beyond Beef compare with those?
One thing that I like about the Beyond Beef product is that it contains no GMOs, soy or gluten, which means that those with intolerances or sensitivities (like three of my family members who have celiac disease) can still enjoy it. It is truly an impressive product and has an incredible texture and taste that I’ve really enjoyed using in my recipes!
We'd love to share your Beyond Beef Shepherd's Pie recipe with our readers—can you tell us how to make it?
Just like mom made it! Honestly, the recipe is very straightforward and old-fashioned. The Beyond Beef is browned with onions the same way you would cook ground beef, extra veggies, thyme and a few other ingredients are added in and the mixture is cooked into a thick filling that gets topped with mashed potatoes and baked until golden and served. SO GOOD!
Finally, in your "mom" opinion, do we tell our kids we're serving them plant-based ground in place of traditional ground beef, or just trick them?
The answer is that it depends. For my youngest son who is three, he really wouldn’t understand the explanation behind the product choice so I would just serve him the meal. For my oldest son, he totally gets it and is game to make changes that benefit the planet, so I would have the conversation. Regardless, we talk about food choices on the daily with both of them and the importance making a healthy choice for our bodies and the environment. They won’t always have me looking over their shoulder telling them to "eat this" or "don’t eat that."
Photo by Tori Wesszer
Win! A Fraiche Nutrition x Beyond Beef Prize Pack!
We have a winner! Congrats to Kristi F. of Vancouver, B.C., who won a Fraiche Nutrition x Beyond Beef prize pack, including a sample of Beyond Beef and a copy of Tori Wesszer and Jillian Harris' Fraiche Food, Full Hearts cookbook!