Veggie Burgers, Meatless Chicken and Paleo Bread

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Funny-Animals-High-quality-food-is-the-key-to-health-and-beautiful-figure

Let’s take a trip to the grocery store.  We’ll start in the refrigerated meat and cheese section.  All the ‘usual suspects’ are present – Louis Rich, Oscar Mayer, Carl Buddig, the Kraft family has a nice showing and Applegate Farms even made it.  Looking a bit further there’s also some ‘foreign looking’ stuff…  “Smart Deli”, Tofurky cold cuts, Tofu Pups (those are ‘hot dogs’ in case you were wondering…), soy cheese…   What the heck?  Over in the freezer area there’s a whole section dedicated to vegan and vegetarian ‘meat’ alternatives.  They’ve thought of everything!  You want breakfast?  How about some ‘Facon’(that’s what I call vegetarian bacon), or sausage (they’ve got links and patties – variety is SO important…)? For lunch there’s a plethora of ‘burgers’ – grain based, black bean, soy, ‘grillers’, and if you’re not feeling the burger, how about some ‘chickenless’ chicken nuggets or boneless wings?  Seriously, What the Cluck!?!?!  That’s not all folks, there are vegetarian bacon bits, seafood-free crab and lobster alternatives, BBQ rib patties (does anyone else find it odd that they still call them ‘ribs’??), burger crumbles, corn dogs, steaks…  Use your imagination – they’ve probably got a knock off for it (although I have yet to come across vegetarian liver, heart, and tongue…  The market could be HUGE!).

It’s kind of funny how vegans and vegetarians don’t eat meat, but food companies sure do sell a lot of these ‘meat alternatives’.  The taste – well, it’s not quite the same, but they try pretty damn hard to get close.  This makes it fairly evident that some vega-tarians (see what I did there? One word to cover both of em’) want to have their ‘not quite meat’ and eat it too. Being the hardcore meat eating, bacon loving carnivores that most of us paleo followers are it’s fairly common to see posts and tweets expressing disgust toward the non-meat eating crowd.  Seriously, why don’t they just eat ethically raised meat if they’re gonna try so damn hard to replicate the stuff?  Am I right?

Hold it there, Trigger.  Before you go agreeing with me I want you to take a minute and be honest with yourself (this may hurt a little bit and it’s completely okay if you need to cry…).  Let’s think about those paleo pancakes you had for breakfast this weekend, or that paleo bread you made a sandwich with at lunch and then there’s that paleo cookie you brought for a snack…  I think you see where I’m going with this.  Being vegetarian or vegan means that meat and/or animal products are off limits.  Being paleo we take much the same attitude against grains, dairy, legumes, etc.  None of that funny stuff for us – BUT (big but there) we still want our bread, cake, pancakes, brownies, muffins, etc. too!!  So, what do we do?  We take a cue from the vega-tarians and we come up with some knock-offs that look and taste almost like the real things.  Whether you buy it at the store or search some of the paleo foodie blogs (you know the ones – and I just saw you close that browser window with the recipe for the paleo cinnamon rolls…) and make your own ‘paleo’ SAD (Standard American Diet) foods – it’s all the same. Hmmm… puts a whole new spin on things, huh?

I know, some of you are thinking; Yeah, but these ‘paleo-fied’ foods are so much better because they don’t have (insert component of choice here – gluten, dairy, soy, vegetable oil, etc.) and they use ‘natural’ sweeteners…  Let’s not fool ourselves here folks.  A cookie is a cookie is a cookie (unless it’s a Fig Newton, then it’s ‘fruit and cake’…) – yeah, some cookies may not leave you feeling like you’ve just been run over by an 18-wheeler, but it was still a freaking COOKIE, and cookies ARE NOT paleo.  And my guess is the story is much the same in the vega-tarian world.  These guys feel better choosing and eating meat alternatives than they do eating the real thing.  There are individuals in both the paleo and vega-tarian (dang, I really like that word…) camp that stay away from the ‘knock-offs’ altogether – this is the hardcore crowd.

I’m not saying that you should never allow yourself to have a paleo pancake, cookie, brownie, cake, etc. but let’s call a spade a spade. It is what it is and if you’re going to justify ‘paleo-fication’ of normally non-paleo foods don’t fault the vega-tarians that want some ‘Facon’, or Tofurky.  Really, what we’re doing is not a whole lot different.  So today I have some advice for both meat and non-meat eaters (remember you don’t have to take my advice or rake me over the coals in the comments – this is just my 2.5 cents).  Stick with real, whole foods and stay away from the processed, packaged stuff – even if it is ‘sanctioned’ vega-tarian or paleo – and in the end your body will thank you. Be completely honest with yourself about the choices you make and don’t look down on a member of the other team for their actions if yours are remarkably similar.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “You can paint a turd gold, but it’s still a turd.”

-Your Favorite Fun-Hater

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  1. Kevin
    April 25, 2013 at 6:04 am

    Disclaimer: I’m not advocating against you. In fact, I wrote an article detailing pretty much the same thing (but didn’t compare to Vegetarianism).

    And the reason I didn’t compare to vegetarianism is that I believe you’re missing the important side point: Vegetarians skip the healthy stuff and substitute with unhealthy chemical laden alternatives. Paleo SAD chefs are the opposite: they’re mimicking bad stuff with better stuff (though I won’t go as far as saying “good” stuff).

    So I’d say that while the mindset is the same, the insanity is not quite on the same level. With that said, I do think there is a huge problem with SAD recreation; not because I believe “Paleo” should be strictly followed, but because people are back to creating hyper-palatable foods that promote overeating and addiction.

    These are often people who came to Paleo because they were suffering from food and sugar addictions and now they’re back to the drawing board figuring out how they can be a healthier addict with Paleo pancakes and Paleo cinnamon rolls.

    • Amy Kubal
      April 25, 2013 at 6:26 am

      Good points Kevin. And like I said, this was just my 2.5 cents. But on the other side of things, there are a lot of vegetarians that don’t eat the crap food, just as there are paleo followers that don’t fall for the ‘treat’ propaganda. Where things get fuzzy is for the newbies that haven’t learned the ‘basics’ and delve into some of the recipe sites and see the packaged foods with the ‘paleo’ label. It’s important to understand what paleo is in it’s truest form and it’s okay to have treats sometimes – just be aware that they are treats. I’m afraid as paleo gains popularity we’re going to see more and more things become ‘acceptable’ much like occurred in the vega-tarian world.

      • tess
        April 25, 2013 at 8:49 am

        +1 here, too! I particularly agree with Amy’s comment about what we teach-by-example to the newbies.

        Much as i feel that even “paleo treats” ARE treats that should be a very occasional special indulgence, there IS fun in trying to replicate the taste of old favorites! I always feel a sense of triumph when i make things like Tamale Pie or Chicken Tetrazini in an acceptable form, so i can’t be too harsh about “paleo-corrected” cookies…. :-)

  2. eema.gray
    April 25, 2013 at 6:08 am

    Actually, I agree with you. I do make pale-ok cakes for birthdays but that’s pretty much the limit of my baking these days unless I’m roasting a hunk of meat and/or a pile of vegetables. On a slightly different but somewhat similar point, the substitute rice/grits/noodles recipes drive me NUTS. I can enjoy spaghetti squash for what it is but a pasta substitute it is not. :-) The recipe post yesterday suggested serving saucy curry over salad – to me, that make much more sense than trying to fake a pile of rice out of a cauliflower.

  3. Sara
    April 25, 2013 at 6:43 am

    Heck. Yes.

    I’ve always seen paleo as a “whole foods” approach, so it stuns me to see that people are buying PACAKAGED food (but made of paleo ingredients!) and thinking nothing of it. Guys, it still came from a box/bag/foil pouch! I had an… “experience” once where I went on a bit of a rant about “vegan cheese spread”–you’re an adult, and you’ve *chosen* not to eat cheese, so man up and exclude it altogether! (People thought I was crazy, or a mean person, or jealous. The first two may be true.) I’ve been building up to the same thing with paleo. We’ve all made this choice FOR OUR HEALTH, so let’s cut the BS: pre-packaged food is about as non-paleo as grains in my mind. Just. Arrrgh!

  4. Marcus
    April 25, 2013 at 7:20 am

    An insightful post that made me think, thanks.

    I’d always felt a little smug whenever I saw the lengths ‘vega-tarians’ went to create their potemkin platters, now its sobering to realise that I may have been sliding down a similar rabbit hole myself.

    I guess I’ll have to recalibrate my food lens a bit; not just “is it Paleo?’, (or even Michael Pollan’s Grandmother test), but the bottom line is “is it REAL FOOD?”.

  5. Nate
    April 25, 2013 at 8:34 am

    Amy, you nailed it right on the money. I’m not saying I don’t love having the occasional Macadamia-Almond Pancakes sandwiching some sausage, egg, and bacon topped with a “little” maple syrup (aka The Paleo McGriddle), but it is important to see that it’s as not too far removed from the regular item. At least it doesn’t make me sick but it’s still a sweet & savory, cracktastic treat.

    I’ve been rather dismayed specifically by the proliferation of packaged Paleo foods – not that I’m against convenience at all – but any cutting, cooking, mashing, grinding, heating, cooling, vac-packing, and processing further degrades nutritional content compared to just, you know, making the damn thing fresh yourself.

    Thanks for your apt analogy to veggie meat substitutes!

  6. Sabine
    April 25, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Great article.
    Personally, I eat almost no Frankenfoods or imitation foods. Since having been on a different diet for a long time, I also have no cravings left for imitation bread and such. Even the replacements don’t seem to want to agree with me.
    Initially however, during the first few weeks of switching, I enjoyed the occasional oopsy bread and shiratake noodle. I think, it can make the transition easier for some people, but it is nothing I would want to stick with for the rest of my life.

  7. Joe
    April 25, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Thanks for the article Amy. It really does make complete sense. As far as health is concerned do things like paleo bread or paleo pancakes have an ill effect? My paleo pancakes usually consist of me making them. They include 1 banana, 2 eggs and 2 tbsp of coconut flour. Blend them to make a batter and voila. I am just combining some whole foods to make a pancake. Pancakes are just one example. Let me know what you think.

    Joe

    • Amy Kubal
      April 25, 2013 at 9:41 am

      Joe,

      It depends on your goals, health, product ingredients, and the frequency at which you are consuming these things. Your recipe is pretty darn clean so I wouldn’t sweat it if you’re healthy. It starts getting funky when the ‘natural sugars’, copious amounts nuts, nut flours, dried fruit, etc start making frequent appearances.

  8. Alysia
    April 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I totally agree with this. Sometimes I’m frustrated with the amount of paleo treats I see when I’m trying to find paleo recipes. It seems like that’s all anyone ever makes these days! But I do think a lot of the recipe blogs have started to do a good job of pointing out the fact that these are specifically treats and technically not really paleo.

  9. Stephanie
    April 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

    I tried a vegetarian diet over 10 years ago. We ate a lot of ‘healthy’ fake meats (I also developed symptoms of a rather nasty autoimmune disease within 6 months of our diet change). I just recently looked at the ingredients of these fake meats we used to eat, gluten and soy followed by a lot of ingredients I can’t even pronounce.

    I agree that if you want to be a vegetarian eating large amounts of highly processed ‘vegetarian’ meat analogs is probably not a good idea. And, the same goes for highly processed food in general.

    I do think homemade paleofied desserts are a little different. A friend recently gave me her favorite (non-paleo) pumpkin bread recipe. It contained 3 cups of refined sugar. 3 CUPS! My eyes almost popped out of their sockets. My teeth started to ache. And, most traditional cookie recipes have at least 2 cups. For that matter, during my last trip to Whole Foods I saw cupcakes topped with what looked like a baseball sized mound of icing.

    That’s a lot of pure sugar compared to a paleo dessert with a couple teaspoons to 1/4 cup of some kind of sweetener (honey, maple syrup, molasses). Not to mention the refined flour in traditional desserts and soybean oil in store bought cookies/cakes.

    • Christopher
      April 25, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      Very true, paleo desserts/treats are definitely better than most typical desserts/treats you’ll find. For many people who are healthy, eating a paleo treat on occasion is probably fine. If someone is still having problems, not achieving their goals, having trouble with weight loss or sugar addiction, etc. then they need to remember that paleo treats are still treats. Just because something says “paleo” on it, doesn’t make it a free lunch.

  10. Joe
    April 25, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Thanks Amy! I totally agree with you.

  11. Anna
    April 25, 2013 at 11:41 am

    I don’t think it’s up to the bloggers to point out whether anything is a treat or not. It’s also not up to them to convince anyone what is paleo or not. The reason there are so many recipes for baked goods is that they are the things people are looking for help with. I’ve been cooking meat, fish, eggs, poultry and seafood all my life. But coconut flour is pretty new for me, and I still have trouble figuring it out sometimes.

  12. Bill Strahan
    April 25, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Amy, you missed the best one! Was shopping with a friend from South America, and we came across “Soyrizo”, the soy version of Chorizo! While I was laughing my butt off, he grabbed some and decided to try it.

    I had a bite after he cooked it. It was awful. Awful!!

    But he was a pretty funny guy so for quite some time afterwards, any time we ate out he would ask the waitress if they had Soyrizo and get her to ask the manager.

    What a nut.

    As to Paleo-tinged SAD reenactment, I see a lot of that too. A couple of times a month might be okay but Paleo “Treats” with every home cooked meal? I didn’t have treats that often BEFORE Paleo. WTH?

    But if you’re going to do it, do it right. Paleo Pancakes? I don’t think so. Make the batter less runny, make the pancakes twice as thick, and now you have workable hamburger buns. I’ll take that splurge once a month long before some paleo-fied cookie that just makes me want the original cookie worse!

    • Amy Kubal
      April 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm

      Soyrizo?!?! That’s freaking bat-shit crazy! And I want to meet your friend – he sounds like a riot. You are right on the money with the treats – go big or go home and you damn well better enjoy it! :) Now pass the ice cream… ;)

  13. greensleeves
    April 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm

    Could.Not.Agree.More.

    Just saw the previews for a new “Paleo” cookbook called Gather, where the recipes can call for up to 1/2 cup of maple sugar. Oh come on. Replacing your white sugar addiction with maple syrup addiction is helping you exactly how?

    Please please please devote a series to the science of sugar addiction & how to kick it. Because that’s what newbies need, not “transitional” sweets that just feed their addiction endlessly. Because you know what? Very few actually then complete the transition, and just munch maple syrup & coconut flour “treats” all day long.

    Kick the sugar habit to the curb, peeps!

    • Rachel
      April 26, 2013 at 6:58 am

      If you had to eat one or the other, would you eat refined sugar or maple syrup?

  14. Rachael
    April 25, 2013 at 9:31 pm

    Tell it like it is, Amy! Stop the “paleo dessert/baked good” crazy train! I’ve never thought to compare it to the tofu meat obsession of vegetarians. This one of your best pieces yet! You are my favorite dream crusher.

  15. Kyle
    April 26, 2013 at 8:50 am

    You can take paleo ingredients and make a “pancake” that’s healthy. Don’t call it a pancake if you don’t want too. You can’t take vegan ingredients and make a burger that’s healthy, with all the artificial colours, flavours, preservatives etc. required to make it. BIG difference

  16. Su
    April 26, 2013 at 10:48 am

    There are many vegetarians/vegans who do not eat meat and dairy for the simple reason that they don’t want to eat another being or a different species breast milk. Health may have nothing to do with it, so analogs (“fake meat, cheese etc”) play a big part in their diet. But there are many (I would say most) that only eat real foods. We are somewhere in the middle. We eat real food 99% of the time but once a year or so will have something nasty but we call it junk food, we don’t try to pretend it is healthy just because it is vegan. No artificial colors, no refined sugars, no wheat, no non fermented soy, no preservatives, just a lot of organic veggies, legumes, roots, and some fruit. We have been vegans for about 16 years. Five super healthy kids and two adults. And yes that soyrizo, it is gross!

    • Johannes
      April 28, 2013 at 7:28 am

      Fully agreed. The comparison is flawed because eating ‘fake meat’ is completly consistant with the moral reasons that most vegetarians/vegans have for not eating meat. In contrast paleo bread and similar stuff is at least not in line with basic principles of paleo or even has indigridents that you really shouldn’t eat if you consider yourself paleo.

  17. Vicki
    April 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

    so I take it you may have loosened up on your “don’t be that guy” philosophy? ;)

    I actually agree with the article (and 100% agree about paleo treats being generally made of whole foods and vegan meats being made of poison, er…soy and gluten). I start feeling uncomfortable when I’m looking for paleo recipes and find about 70% or so of them to be “desserts”. I think of friends that I’ve turned onto paleo and hope they don’t just focus on desserts (which a few really have) and go faileo!

    don’t get me wrong though, I’ll have something once in awhile, but I’m actually past the point where I want a standard cookie (except for one kind they make at one place that I’d have to drive 45 minutes to get to…so no thanks), or cake, or whatever. paleo-esque treats no longer make me crave “real” ones. on the rare occasion I’ll have, say, pale-ok (awesome term) waffles, it’s because I want THOSE waffles, not because I just want waffles. it wasn’t like that in the beginning though. I’m better learning what constitutes food-without-brakes and doing without instead of making substitutes that just make me crave and ruin my hard work.

    but yeah, the KISS rule can be well-applied to paleo. keep it simple, stupid…meat, plants, water. easy peasy, when it comes down to it. :)

  18. Vicki
    April 26, 2013 at 11:02 am

    also: soyrizo sounds like the worst thing to come out of the laboratory in ages! yech!

  19. Julie
    April 26, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    I liked this post. I used to be a vegetarian, and I hated it when people would laugh at me for eating fake meat. Just because I was a vegetarian doesn’t mean I hate the taste of meat. I realize now that the fake meat was really bad for me, but I think that’s a decision everyone has to make on their own without bullying or teasing. Also, I agree about the paleo cookies and such. They’re ok once in a while, because everyone needs a treat sometimes, but let’s try to keep it real.

  20. Nikki
    April 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    This made me laugh because it’s so true we all want to have our vegan/paleo/whatever cake and eat it too. I have to say though, I agree with Kevin’s comment, at least our paleo alternatives aren’t laden with additives and chemicals.

  21. Turin
    April 26, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Great article.

    My favourite quote “You can’t polish a turd, but… you can roll it in glitter!”

  22. Eileen @ Phoenix Helix
    April 27, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Very true! And have you noticed the most popular paleo food blogs are usually the ones that focus on dessert? I’ve even seen recipes for paleo twinkies!

    • Amy Kubal
      April 27, 2013 at 12:03 pm

      I know! It’s TERRIBLE representation of what paleo truly is and it’s VERY confusing to those that are new to the game.

  23. Courtney
    April 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    So funny! I’ve been reading your book, “The Paleo Solution”- AWESOME, by the way!- and was just browsing around Pinterest for some Paleo recipes. Every other one was a knockoff of some non-Paleo cookie or pancake or brownie. I was scratching my head wondering why people are going to all that trouble when they could be following the Paleo “diet” and enjoying it so much more???

  24. healthygirl
    April 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    Been Paleo for almost a year… I would like to give up rice but it’s the only carb I can have that seems to keep my thyroid normal and keep me feeling full. Can’t have carbs that have high oxalates like all potatoes, etc. due to leaky gut. For some not everyone can be 100% Paleo.

  25. Alexandra
    April 28, 2013 at 9:37 am

    I blame the plethora of fantastic paleo cookbooks that have been making their yummy way into our lives. Let’s face it, there is only so many ways to cook some meat or fish and veggies, etc. So these clever writers have worked their paleo magic on the rest of the food world. I enjoy these paleoized recipes only on rare occasions because I know I will over consume them.

  26. Richard
    April 29, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Being very new to Paleo eating and one of the mentioned “newbies”, I found this to be good incite and kind of funny! I was just trying to figure out how I was going to obtain my pizza fix. To be honest I really do not care about the caveman aspect, just looking for a better way of eating. I have dermographia and it has been suggested going this route may help with the itching and welts and get me off the antihistamines.

  27. Matt
    April 30, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Food _is_ emotional… Food tickles brain chemistry at the lowest levels. Food is ritual – social glue. For these reasons and a variety of others, people get excited when you mess with their chow…

  28. GiGi Eats Celebrities
    April 30, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    No floofy non-sense recipes for me. I just like my steak or burger with some spinach and spaghetti squash – DONE. Simple, easy, cooks in like 10 minutes… And it’s delicious!

  29. Paleo Huntress
    May 1, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    I don’t eat “paleo” bread, pancakes and cupcakes. If I’m going to eat food that was originally created with grains, I’m gonna eat the real deal… and that is extremely seldom. Even in my misguided years as a vegan, I learned that eating “replacement” foods only keeps your desire for the real-deal alive. I crave it less if i don’t spend so much time trying to replicate it. lol

  30. Kirsten
    May 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

    This was a good article, and there have been some great comments. I have been doing 100% paleo for almost 6 months now, and I do allow for some occasional “treats”, but they are treats. Just bought “Gather”, and it’s actually the most beautiful cook book…gorgeous photos, and it is an entertainment book (read: special occasion) not an every day recipe list. If you entertain, the things in it are ok for you to serve to others that are not paleo, but getting back to the subject…my cholesterol and sugar went down from 358 to 78, almost identically in four months. So far, building muscle and lost 37 pounds of fat, and if I can do that and occasionally have a little maple syrup or banana to sweeten something, and feel fabulous, I will do it. I am mostly focused on getting organic, real pastured foods, and quality ingredients. My biggest mistake when I first began this journey, was making recipes with nut flour…now I try to use less of that, and coconut instead, and only every now and then…it helps keep it interesting, and yes, sometimes old foods die hard!

  31. Jasmine
    May 3, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Wow. As a newbie, I truly appreciated this post, because as I’m looking at all these Paleo-ized SAD recipes on paleo blogs, I was so confused – I look at how much sugar they’re adding and I think to myself, There is NO way that this can be healthy.

    Thanks so much for this! I completely agree with you – if you’re gonna do something, then don’t half-a** it. Of course, I think the occasional “treat” is okay, but for the most part, just stick to the real deal!

  32. Kevin W
    May 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I love this, back in the day when I experimented with being vegetarian it was funny to see the lengths I went through to have my “meat-like” products.

    Now a Paleo convert it’s funny to see it from the other side.

    How about we just start eating real food?

  33. Jim Abston
    May 12, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I totally agree with this post. I just started my paleo lifestyle and I have this habit of making food that is not totally paleo. This is really hard especially if you are not fully ready to convert. It’s hard to resist the temptation so I paleo-fied my food as my justification. I wish I could overcome this.

  34. Dena
    May 20, 2013 at 10:24 am

    I believe it’s wise to keep the paleofied treats/breads in the “once in awhile” category as healthier treat alternative and not a diet staple. I always ask myself before I decide on a recipe. “Will I be able to stop eating these bad boys once I start?”. Most of time with a paleo treat, the answer is NO I will not be able to stop so I restrict them.

    But, man! I buy pre chopped/cut/shredded veggies all of time from trader joes as a time saving convenience. Hard to believe there are paleo police out there judging it.

  35. Dugrobb
    July 1, 2013 at 9:50 am

    Someone mentioned Paleo Pizza!!! how about this

    chicken breast.
    some pork sausage
    some tomato puree
    seasonings

    not sure how to mimic cheese though texture wise color is easy rice some cauliflower

    but pound the chicken flat to use an dough
    fresh tomato puree for the sauce

    sprinkle some cooked sausage on it sort of like pizza

    put some cauliflower over that and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 8-12 min

    Tasty at least I like it!

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