5 Sources for Meat-Free Protein
Wanting to incorporate more meatless meals into your diet, but you’re worried about not getting enough protein? Here are some plant-based protein sources and a few ways to prepare each one!
We’ve talked before about meat’s environmental “foodprint.” While I know that a vegan diet isn’t for everyone, incorporating just one or two more meatless meals each week can have a huge impact. One big concern from a lot of meat-eaters is that plant-based meals are too light on the protein.
It’s true that plant-based foods often have less protein than meat, but most people eat far more protein than they need to. The Recommended Daily Value for protein is only around 45-55 grams, depending on your size and age, and most Americans eat far more than that. With just a teensy bit of protein know-how, it’s easy as pie to get plenty of protein with a meatless meal.
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The musical fruit! The more you eat the more…protein you will have in your diet. A serving of cooked beans has 7-10 grams of protein per half cup, so a bowl of bean soup or chili packs quite the protein punch! If you’re worried about beans’ more…er…“musical” qualities, rinsing the beans before cooking can make a big difference. You might also want to add beans to your diet slowly, if you don’t get a lot of fiber right now.
Ready to cook up some beany deliciousness? Try these tasty recipes!
Next>> Nuts and Seeds
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2. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a bit high in the fat and calorie department, but they’re also an excellent protein source and full of vitamins and minerals. I like adding nuts to casseroles, sandwiches, and rice dishes for a bit of protein and crunch. You can also add flax or chia seeds to your smoothies for a little protein on the go.
Here are a few more recipes to get more nuts into your diet:
- Basil and arugula cashew pesto
- Orange-scented green beans with toasted almonds
- Spiced nuts
- Toasted hazelnut salad
Next>> Whole Grains
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3. Whole Grains
Not only are whole grains full of healthy fiber, they’re packed with protein, too! Combine some whole grains with nuts or beans, and you’ve got a protein-heavy dish every time. Whole grains are an inexpensive, versatile protein source. Here are some recipes to get you going.
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Soy is a little bit controversial, and I like to think of it as a sometimes food. Tofu is high in protein, and it’s easy to cook. It takes on the flavor of whatever you use to marinate it, which means you can use tofu in all sorts of dishes, from more traditional stir fries to unexpected places like desserts.
- Asian noodle salad with sticky ginger tofu cubes
- Quick silken tofu chocolate pudding
- Mini broccoli quiche
- Barbeque curry tofu
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Seitan is probably the most obscure protein source on this list. Made from vital wheat gluten, you can even make seitan at home in your kitchen! The results are a chewy, tasty protein source that you can use in place of meat in many dishes, depending on how you season it. Many health food stores will sell seitan pre-made in a couple of different styles, as well. Not sure how to cook your seitan? Here are a few ideas:
- Barebeque seitan ribz
- Seitan scaloppine with lemon-olive sauce
- Garden fresh stir fry with seitan
- Seitan stew
Of course, these are just a few of the protein heavy-hitters in the veggie world. Many other plant-based foods contain protein. In fact, lots of veggies have a bit of protein in them! If you’re eating a varied diet, chances are you don’t need to worry about getting enough protein, but if meatless meals are new to you, these protein bombs can help you eat less meat without feeling protein-deprived.
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