Product Review: Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix + Recipe Bonus

Neat - A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix

Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix

Product: Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix – $4.99+

For the last few issues, I’ve noticed that my Delight Gluten Free magazine has had ads for this vegan meat replacement called Neat.  I was beyond intrigued and immediately went on the hunt in my local natural food stores.  Sadly, but not surprisingly, no one in my area carried this product.  At least not yet.  I said I’d get online and see if I could order it, but, naturally, I forgot to do that.  Story of my life.

I can’t help it.  I have too much to think sometimes and these mental notes and reminders get lost in the shuffle.

But then…it was as if they felt the need to answer my unspoken prayer…my favorite monthly delivery arrived.  Cuisine Cube’s October cube arrived in the mail and I immediately tore into it, wondering what sort of surprises awaited inside.  And if you haven’t looked into ordering a Cuisine Cube yet…get over to their Web site and try it out.  Seriously, this is one of the best investments I have ever made.  Receiving gluten-free items from smaller and lesser known companies each month has become a treat I look forward to every month.  So…if you have made a mental note to check them out, and it’s gotten lost in the shuffle…click on the link above and check it out.  For real.

Now back to your regularly scheduled blog…

So, October’s Cuisine Cube arrived and one of the items inside was…you guessed it…because I’m blogging about it…Neat – A Replacement For Meat!  The version included in the box was the Mexican Mix.  Neat, for the record, also has an Original Mix (for burgers/chili), an Italian Mix (for “meatballs” and lasagna), and also a Breakfast Mix (for quiches and breakfast sandwiches).  Let me tell you…I did this happy little dance of joy and might have squeaked a bit when I pulled that pouch out of the cube.  Seriously…after reading about it and looking for it…I finally had it in my clutches!

As a gluten-free vegetarian, vegan/vegetarian meat substitutes are hard to come by.  Most vegan/vegetarian meat substiutes have some sort of vital wheat gluten in them.  And a lot of companies refuse to go the gluten-free route because it would “jeopardize the integrity of the product.”  BOOOO!!  So, up until recently, I’d just season up some tofu and work with that.  But…it’s not the same.

So, what exactly is Neat?  Neat is a meat replacement that is derived from nuts and other non-GMO natural ingredients.  It is a product that was created by a mother of two children who decided that they were going to become vegetarians.  At first she would puree beans into sauces to help her girls get the protein they wanted, but after awhile, everyone got tired of it.  And that was when she got into the kitchen, experimented, and created what is now marketed at Neat.

Neat - A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix (in a skillet with chopped onion and chopped green pepper)

Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix (in a skillet with chopped onion and chopped green pepper)

Neat comes in this shelf-stable pouch in a powdered form.  All you do to prepare it is pour the pouch into a bowl, add two eggs (or a vegan egg replacer), plus two tablespoons of water.  Stir all the ingredients together and throw it into a skillet over medium heat, just as you would ground beef, for about seven minutes.  To make it into crumbles, as it cooks, stir and chop it up, and what you end up with is this perfect texture of meat crumbles that is not just completely vegan/vegetarian…but also gluten-free!

Now…gluten-free and vegetarian tacos are sort of something I’m famous for.  I have gotten really creative with how to prepare tacos (Tour De Taco happens often at my apartment) to make them not just gluten-free, but also meat free.  And a meat replacement hasn’t been used in a long time.  So, while I had a pouch of the Mexican Mix from Neat, I decided to bring back an old favorite of mine as a kid, back when I ate meat and would basically beg my mom to make this for dinner.

What I did was cook up my mom’s famous Enchilada Hotdish.  Normally this is made with ground beef, but this meant I could use the Neat Mexican Mix for a different purpose.  Tacos…been there, done that.  Enchilada Hotdish…haven’t had that in AGES!!  So, that’s what I did.  I picked up a gluten-free and vegetarian can of chili and I got a roll of Teese Vegan Nacho Cheese…and the rest was vegetables and seasonings I already had at home.  Perfect.

So, tonight…I pulled out the Cuisine Cube treat of Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix and set out to prepare it.  I chopped up the vegetables that were needed and then retrieved the can of chili and the vegan nacho cheese (which I substituted for the cheddar cheese soup) and had them ready with my seasoning.  First things first…preparing Neat.

Super easy.  I poured the powdered contents of the package into a medium mixing bowl.  Then, per the instructions, I added two eggs and the water and mixed it up.  It created this…sludge of sorts…but I trusted it and went with it.  I had a non-stick skillet on the stove and put the Neat into it to start browning.  The vegetables were also added so they could start to get soft before I added the rest of the ingredients.  With everything in the pan, and heated through, I began to assemble the hotdish itself.  This meant putting the “meat” mixture into the casserole dish, then layering it with tortilla chips, then repeating it.  Into the oven it went to bake and about 30 minutes later…viola!!  I was enjoying a version of my mom’s Enchilada Hotdish.

So…how was it?

It is not an exaggeration when I say I want to marry Neat.  For real.  WOW!  I was SO impressed, not only with the flavor, but how great the texture it.  Here is a company that is getting ti right.  Going into the pan to cook, it didn’t look appetizing or promising, but it all came together.  And it was the perfect meat substitute for the beef that would have been normally used in this recipe.  I am thrilled with this product and think I’ll be placing an order to try ALL the Neat products.  And, I also might straight-out make tacos next time.  But, I figured I should really put this product to the test.  Trust the hype…it’s amazing.

Also…tested it out straight from the pan on the tortilla chips and…oh…yum.   Makes a great dip too!  HA!

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Enchilada Hotdish (made with Neat - A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix)

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Enchilada Hotdish (made with Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix)

Let’s first delve into the nitty-gritty ingredients and nutrition of Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix.  The Mexican Mix version of Neat is made from pecans, garbanzo beans, organic whole grain gluten free cornmeal, sea salt, and spices.  So, where this is meat-free and dairy-free, and also gluten-free…it is NOT nut-free.  So, if you have a nut allergy…this product is not for you.

As for nutrition, a serving of Neat Mexican Mix is 40 grams and each pouch contains 4 servings.  This serving will give you 21o calories and 15 grams of fat (healthy fat as it is coming from beans and nuts).  A serving will provide you with 333 mg sodium and 2 grams of sugar.  And, trust me, the 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein will leave you feeling full…whether you’re making a hotdish or having taco night.

But…there is more!

I’ve decided, since it worked out so well, that I would share the recipe I used this product in.  This is a family recipe of my mom’s and it is SO delicious!!  If you are not a vegetarian, you can use 1 pound of lean ground beef…and if you can handle dairy, please use your cheddar cheese soup (as long as it is gluten-free!)…but this is how I prepared the dish tonight…with great success!!

Recipe: Gluten Free Vegetarian Enchilada Hotdish

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Enchilada Hotdish

Gluten-Free and Vegetarian Enchilada Hotdish

Servings: 6
Time: Prep 15 minutes; Cook 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 package Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix
  • 2 organic cage-free eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 package Teese Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce
  • 1 can vegetarian chili (I used Amy’s Organic Light in Sodium Medium Chili)
  • 1/2 can water

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Pour the Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat Mexican Mix into a medium bowl.  Add two eggs (or egg replacer if vegan) and 2 tablespoons of water.  Mix well.

In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, brown the Next Mexican Mix, onion, and green peppers.  Cook until vegetables begin to soften and the Neat can be chopped into a meat texture.  Add the chili powder, vegan cheese sauce, chili and water to the mix and mix well.  Allow it to heat through for a few minutes to marry the flavors together.

In a 9×9 oven-proof dish, place in layers, alternating the meat mixture with 1 package of tortilla or nacho chips.

Bake for 30 minutes.

~*~*~

Thanks to Cuisine Cube and Neat – A Healthy Replacement For Meat, I was not only able to recreate a version of an old family favorite, but it tasted so much like how I remembered it tasting when I was growing up.  I couldn’t have been happier tonight as I sat and devoured my dinner.  I can’t wait to get my hands on the other Neat products.  Talk about having a desired product land in your lap!!

Seriously…seek out this product!!  I highly recommend it!  The product is so versatile…beyond just a protein base for tacos.  Try out the recipe above or use it in one of your own family favorites.  You will not be disappointed.  I promise!

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