As an advocate for plant-powered teenagers, I’m always on the lookout for nutritious and amazing-tasting foods that are also convenient. The reason? Most teen vegheads aren’t doing their own cooking, their parents are—on top of preparing food for the rest of the family. And the young vegetarians who do take cooking responsibilities don’t often have loads of time or experience in the kitchen.
So I was super excited when I heard about Neat, a new product whose producers call it “a healthy replacement for meat” (after checking it out, I couldn’t agree more). Neat comes in a shelf-stable package; when you’re ready to use it you mix the flour-like blend with water and eggs (you can also use vegan egg replacements), and cook in a pan—either stirring, to resemble chopped meat, or in patties, as burgers. This whole process takes 10 minutes, tops.
The main ingredients in Neat are pecans, garbanzo beans, oats, and cornmeal, making it not unlike something you might whip up in your kitchen. Many of the other meat-replacement foods on the market are made primarily from soy protein concentrate, which I don’t, as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), feel great recommending as a regular part of anyone’s diet (as an RDN, I always urge my clients to eat minimally processed versions of any foods, since those are the ones with the most consistently proven health benefits). I love that Neat is made from simple, whole foods.
The people from Neat were kind enough to send me some of their products to sample. I tried the original, which I cooked like ground meat and made with pasta and tomato sauce for a meat-free spaghetti Bolognese, and the Mexican mix that I used in tacos. Both were so good—filling and satisfying (thanks to all the fiber and protein in the pecans, beans, oats, and corn), and super tasty.
Here’s the quick lowdown on Neat:
+Real food ingredients
+Shelf stable—you can keep it on hand in your pantry without having to worry about it going bad
+Nutritious: 5 grams of protein and fiber per serving
-It does take a little bit of work to prepare it (but we promise, the effort is minimal and totally worth it!)
Have you tried Neat yet? What did you think? What meat-replacement foods do you like enough to include in your repertoire?