Happy Monday!  It may be March, but don’t worry it still snowed last night here in NYC.  Thankfully it wasn’t the 10-12 inches that was originally projected…but really, is this winter ever going to end?  I’m itching for some nice spring weather! Anyway, did you know March is National Nutrition Month?

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This year’s theme is “Enjoy the taste of eating right”, which is SO in line with my approach to eating.  Healthy can still taste good and why eat if you don’t enjoy it…right?! :)  Stay tuned during March for some of my NNM tips/posts!

In addition to being March, today is Monday…which for some people means Meatless Monday!  And how appropriate that today I’m sharing one of my favorite new vegan/vegetarian friendly products with you!

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I received an e-mail from  a friend a few weeks ago, asking my thoughts on a couple different “meat substitute” products.  One of the brands was Neat Foods and I was immediately intrigued by the ingredient list-just nuts, beans, oats, cornmeal and spices!

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Ingredients=simple, few, easy to understand

You see, most Imitation meat products (and there are plenty of them out there) are made from soy and are chock full of preservatives and additives.  Not my cup of tea!  As a vegetarian and RD, I’d rather choose whole plant food proteins (quinoa, beans, lentils, etc) than fake-meat products with a mile long ingredient list.  So I was pretty psyched to learn about Neat from a nutritional/health standpoint…but what about the taste?  I reached out to Neat for more information and they were more than happy to send me samples to review!

When the package came, I was most excited to try out the Mexican packet.  Neat suggests using it like you would ground beef so I busted out a pan and got cookin!  1 packet + 2 eggs + 2 Tablespoons of water, mix and voila!

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At first, I didn’t have high hopes because the mixture was pretty sticky and wasn’t turning out anything like ground beef.  But a few minutes later, it became crumbly and started browning up nicely in the pan.

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I ended up using it on a taco salad, with greens, black beans, corn, salsa, cheese and avocado.  I have to tell you, it was delicious.  Boyfriend even tried some and loved it. Of course it’s not meat…so you can’t expect it to taste like meat, but it’s the closest thing I’ve come across!  I’d say the consistency is a little more chewy and crumbly than beef, but that makes sense!  Nutritionally, it’s lower in protein that other meat alternative products, since it’s made from beans/nuts vs. soy.  I prepared mine using eggs, so that boost the protein per serving a bit, but you can definitely make Neat vegan as well.  

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I used the leftovers a few nights later in some tacos and again, loved it!  I’d argue the taste of Neat vs. other products I’ve tried totally makes up for having slightly less protein.IMG_5020

Then last night, I broke out the Italian Neat and made “meatballs” to bring to dinner with the boyfriend’s family.  They smelled delicious and I had a feeling I would love them, but I was excited to test them out on “meatatarians” too!  And everyone really liked them.  I totally spazzed and forgot to take photos, but they looked and sort of even smelled like meatballs!  We did all agree that they were a little dry, but topping them with tomato sauce was a quick fix and really complimented the spices in the Italian mix. The “neatballs” could easily be subbed for meatballs…so for someone (like me) who occasionally misses meat and LOVES meatballs, Neat is a perfect substitute!

Neat is currently available for sale at their online store, Amazon.com and at over 100 retailers across the country.  It sells for $5.99 a packet, which is comparable to other meat substitute products on the market (and I say well worth the price for a quality and tasty product).  So go check it out for yourself…and right now they’re hosting a recipe contest where you can wish cash prizes and an entire year’s worth of Neat!

And on top of that, my friends at Neat are letting me host a giveaway to provide one lucky reader with 3 packets of Neat to try for themselves!  Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below, and a winner will be selected at random on Friday, March 7.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post.  I was not compensated in any way for my review, but am always happy to endorse products that I stand behind.  All of the opinions are solely my own.  Neat foods provided me with 3 packets of Neat to sample and 3 packets to giveaway.