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Trends for 2021: Plant-Based Foods

Plant-based foods continue to be one of the biggest food trends this year. Consumption of plant based protein and other vegetarian foods are on the rise. The trend includes more plant-based selections at fast food restaurants, plant-based milk substitutes and plant based “seafood.” The plant-based meat alternatives global market is projected to increase from 1.6 billion dollars in 2019 to 3.5 billion dollars by 2026 along with a decrease in meat sales by about 5%.

Research shows that a vegetarian, plant based diet may help with weight loss, lower blood pressure, better blood sugar control, better overall health, lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, and increased longevity.Consumers are asking for healthy alternatives, and plant-based products are at the top of their list.

Plant based meat alternatives are typically made from soy, wheat gluten, mushrooms, legume proteins from peas, lentils or chickpeas and algae. They are meant to resemble meat in their sensory attributes but are made from these plant sources.

Plant-based milk alternatives made from soybeans, oats, rice and nuts or seeds have also been on the rise, along with a substantial decrease in cow’s milk sales. Sales of plant-based yogurts have grown by 55%, plant-based cheeses by 43%, and plant-based creamers by 131% in the US. However, many of these products don’t have the same amount of protein you might find in the cow’s milk versions.

Go with the trend – try some plant based proteins like veggie burgers, vegan “seafood,” tofu, tempeh, seitan, texturized vegetable protein and many more.

~Michele Lubin, MS, RDN

Mandarin Orange Tofu (Using an Air Fryer)


  • 1-16 oz package Extra Firm tofu, well drained and cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 T. cornstarch

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 t. sesame oil

Sauce Ingredients:

  • ½ c. juice from fresh Mandarin oranges (about 4 mandarin oranges)
  • 1 T. mandarin orange zest (about 2 mandarin oranges)
  • 1 T. calorie free sweetener like Stevia
  • ¼ t. ginger paste or ½ t. ginger powder
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • ½ T. corn starch
  • 1 T. water
  • Garnishes (optional): 3 scallions, sliced at an angle, Black sesame seeds


  1. Marinate tofu cubes in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil for ten minutes. Toss with 1 T. cornstarch until the cubes are coated.
  2. Pre-heat air fryer at 375 degrees for 3 minutes. Place tofu in air fryer and cook for 18 minutes, pausing the fryer after ten minutes to shake the tofu cubes and ensure even heating and browning.
  3. While the tofu is in the air fryer, place a skillet on medium high heat and add mandarin orange juice, Stevia, ginger paste, garlic, and pepper flakes. Heat until boiling about 2-3 minutes.
  4. While heating mix 1 T. water with ½ T. corn starch until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add corn starch to sauce mixture and heat another two minutes until it starts to thicken.
  6. Add cooked tofu cubes and stir until thoroughly heated.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in orange zest.

Top with green onions and black sesame seeds.

Alternative serving suggestion: serve with stir fry vegetables and brown rice.


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