our mothers always preached that a proper meal was made up of a vegetable, a starch, and – the main event – an animal-based protein. Now that we’re all grown up, we don’t always subscribe to everything our mothers told us and are defying this particular piece of advice by forging our own path. Our ideas about protein no longer include four legs or feathers by necessity, but could include leaves, sprouts or nutshells too. Fill up on some of our favorite vegan protein recipes, jam-packed with all of those key amino acids your mother was advocating, and redefine your ideas about what constitutes a proper healthy meal.
Farro with Leeks, Mushrooms and Chestnuts
Mushrooms – yes mushrooms – happen to be a rich source of protein, one that can easily replace the savory flavor of red meat in any dish. Mushrooms also contain vitamin D, so for all of us who suffer from a lack of sun rays, eating them a few times a week is a great way to keep your D levels in check. Dig into this recipe for a hearty, soul-satisfying meal that is guaranteed to be approved by even the most adamant meat-eaters.
Quinoa Veggie Burger
Quinoa is one of the most protein-dense grains around, containing all of the essential amino acids, including the more rare: lysine and isoleucine. When combined with beans, sweet potato, sunflower seeds, and a homemade bun, this veggie burger will make you forget you ever even craved beef.
Hemp Protein Bars
Hemp is one of our favorite superfoods: it’s not only rich in healthy fats and trace minerals, but it’s filled to the brim with protein. It contains all 20 amino acids (including the 9 essential ones), is highly digestible and is easily absorbed by the body, making them perfect for making protein bars! Whip up a batch of these bars and keep them on hand for on-the-go fuel or a post-workout snack.
Raw Zucchini Pasta Salad
One of the best ways to make a vegan cheese sauce is with nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast tastes very similar to cheese, but is also rich in vegan protein (16 grams per ounce!). It’s also rich in B12, which is a must-have for all vegans. Try this innovative vegan pasta salad filled with veggies and protein, and free of gluten and dairy.
Braised Leeks and Muscovado Lentils
Lentils, much like other legumes, are an extremely versatile protein that can easily be the centerpiece of any meal. Boasting a whopping 18 grams of protein per cup, they are also rich in minerals and fiber yet low in calories. This recipes really allows lentils to shine – hello, honey-braised leeks – so make sure to add these ingredients to your shopping list ASAP. Quick tip: To “veganize” this dish, simply swap coconut oil for the butter!
Big Kahuna Hawaiian Salad
Nuts are a simple, take-anywhere solution to help meet your daily protein requirements. Add them to your grain dishes, breakfast bowls, and salads, like this one loaded with the tropical fruits papaya and pineapple. While delicious, one thing to remember is that nuts are not a complete protein, meaning they do not contain all of the essential amino acids, so be sure to diversify your protein sources to meet your needs.
Recipe: Big Kahuna Hawaiian Salad
Chocolate Chia Pudding
Chia seeds have become renown for their extraordinary nutrient density, topping the charts in calcium, essential fatty acids and protein. Containing all of the essential amino acids except taurine, it is almost a complete protein (hey, nobody’s perfect). What we love most about chia though, is how easily it replaces dairy in many recipes – and transforms into a decadent pudding when combined with almond milk. Don’t believe us? Make this chocolate one by Oh She Glows. Sweet, silky-smooth, tasty goodness!