"But how do you get your protein?" (Somewhere a vegetarian just rolled their eyes)
Have you ever heard someone say-- "It's hard to get adequate protein if you are a vegetarian." ...?
I hear it all the time. And heck, I have said it myself! But the more I experiment with the vegetarian lifestyle the more meals I discover that are packed with those muscle building proteins everyone is so hungry for. Beans, nuts, whole grains, peas, broccoli, avocado, and spinach (just to name a few) are all great sources of protein, but many people still hold on to the idea that protein has to come from meat. Yes, meat tends to be higher in protein than plants, BUT why are we so obsessed with getting massive amounts of protein anyway?
Did you know that as an American you are most likely consuming more protein than necessary for a healthy diet? Women only need 46 grams of protein a day and men only need 52 grams, yet according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey the average American male consumes 102 grams of protein per day, while the average female eats about 70 grams. So chances are you are you may be overdoing it. Mind blown?
I am not going to go on a rant about all the benefits of a plant based diet. I am sure you know by now that it's better for your health, your planet, and your wallet. SO now you can put that little protein issue aside and try a few days free from meat.
Need some recipe inspiration? Try a few of the meals below. All of these are my own dishes that I have posted on Intagram, so I can vouch for them personally. But please note: I am not a chef and the recipes may not be as thorough as the professionals! Also, the protein count on each was determined by the count in each protein rich food per serving, so it's a rough estimate. Enjoy and let me know if you try one. :)
Quinoa Black Bean Salad: (23 grams of protein per serving)
1 cup quinoa cooked 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 2 teaspoons toasted coconut oil 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger 1/8 teaspoon salt Pinch of cayenne pepper 1 small mango, diced 1 small red bell pepper, diced 1/2 cucumber, sliced 1 cup canned black beans rinsed 1/2 of a sweet onion, thinly sliced
Mix and enjoy with a side of sweet corn!
Cauliflower Fried Rice (54 grams of protein)
1 large egg, beaten and 2 fried for topping each serving 1 cup chopped scallions 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger One head cauliflower "rice" 4-5 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 cup frozen peas and carrots 1 teaspoon rice vinegar 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil 1/4 cup chopped cashews
Saute the everything (except eggs) in a large skillet or wok until tender, but not mushy. Add the beaten egg mix until the egg is cooked. Remove from heat. Plate and serve. Option to put a sunny side egg on top!
Pesto Zoodles With Grilled Tomato and Tempeh (26 grams of protein)
2 medium Zucchni or Squash "zoodled"
1 Pack of organic tempeh
2 tablespoons of fresh or store bought pesto
1 cup of fresh spinach
1/2 sweet onion chopped
1 tomato halved
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh basil (optional)
Cube to triangle the tempeh and in a bowl coat the tempeh with pesto and a touch of salt and pepper.
Saute the zoodles, spinach, and onion until tender in a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of pesto and some olive oil.
Heat the grill and add the halved tomatoes and pesto coated tempeh. Grill the temph for 4 minutes each side and the tomato for 4 minutes total on medium/high heat.
Combine veggies and tempeh in a bowl top with the tomato and a bit of fresh basil.
Curry Lentil Soup (22 grams of protein)
Ingredients: 1 large onion, chopped 5 garlic cloves, minced 1 table spoon of chopped fresh ginger ¼ cup curry paste 1 cup uncooked lentils 6 cups vegetable broth 1 sweet potato 3 cups curly kale, chopped sea salt, to taste black pepper, to taste
Add everything to the crock pot except the kale. Cook on high for 6 hours. Stir in the kale at the last minute until wilted and top with a touch of sour cream.
Black Bean Barley Burgers (19 grams of protein)
1/2 cup cooked barley 1 can of black beans drained 1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped 1 garlic clove, chopped Salt and pepper
Pulse in the food processor and then shape into burger patties. Great on the grill or in a pan.
Farro Sweet Potato Salad (17 grams of protein)
1 cup cooked Farro Salt and Pepper 2 cups arugula 2 and 1/4 cups sweet potatoes cubed and sautéed in olive oil 1/2 cup slivered almonds 2-3 tablespoons of red wine or apple cider vinegar Optional: shaved Parmesan cheese
Mix and serve.