8 Easy Plant-Based Recipes That Are Packed With Protein
Whenever I tell someone that I’m a lifelong vegetarian, their first question is always, “how do you get enough protein?” I used to find this annoying, but now I use it as a genuine learning opportunity. This line of thinking stems from a common misconception that plant-based recipes are lacking vital protein, but that’s far from the truth.
There are so many healthy, plant-based recipes that are not only delicious and fiber-filled, but also packed with satiating protein. Some people who are vegan or vegetarian enjoy fake meat substitutes (and there’s absolutely no shame in that), but fake meats are not necessary for a balanced, protein-packed diet. Here are some easy plant-based recipes that pack plenty of protein — without any meat.
This chickpea salad is simple, fresh, and features an ingredient that makes salads really come to life: tahini. Made from dry-roasted, stone-ground sesame seeds, tahini is nutritious, creamy paste perfect for salad dressings. The chickpeas elevate the protein in this salad, making it a satiating lunch option throughout the week.
2. Tofu Bhurji
No plant-based vegetarian or vegan list is complete without tofu. This vegan, Indian-inspired tofu bhurji (a tofu scramble usually made with paneer, a type of Indian cheese), is full of flavor, spice, and complete protein. Pair it with a slice of sprouted grain toast for an additional protein boost in the morning.
When you only have 30 minutes to prep and cook dinner, try this easy black bean burger recipe. While this recipe is made with black beans, you could also substitute for pinto or kidney beans. These homemade patties pack 29 grams of protein per serving, which makes them a great choice for a post-workout meal. To add more vegetables and reduce refined grains, these patties can be served over salad instead of a traditional bun. Either way, they’d make the perfect entree with a side of crispy avocado fries.
Tempeh is made from cooked, slightly fermented soybeans, and it absorbs a number of flavors due to its firmness. This teriyaki tempeh and broccoli, which is a play on the usual “beef and broccoli,” contains 21 grams of protein and comes together in just 15 minutes. Depending on your mood, you can pair the protein and sautéed broccoli with a helping of quinoa or cauliflower rice. This can be a tad bit salty if you don’t use the right soy sauce, so add a small amount at a time, taste, and build up.
Growing up, I ate a lot of biryani (a type of South Asian rice), so when a friend introduced me to jambalaya, I knew immediately I was going to love it. Jambalaya is a type of rice dish mainly made of meat and vegetables. However, this Louisiana-inspired vegan jambalaya is loaded with 16 grams of protein and plenty of vegetables and flavors. This vegan jambalaya only requires one pot to cook, which saves you extra cleaning up time. Plus, while the rice is cooking for about 20 to 25 minutes, you can watch one of your favorite sitcoms as you wait for the flavors to come together. If rice is not your thing, you can also swap it with quinoa.
6. Vegan Chili
As the weather outside cools down, my kitchen heats up thanks to the hearty bowls of chili I crave. This one-pot vegan chili with black beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans is not only delicious, but also versatile. You can use plant-based protein, or swap it with tofu or tempeh if that’s more your taste. Containing 13 grams of protein per serving, you can make a batch on a Sunday afternoon and eat through the week, or freeze in advance to take it to any winter-time potlucks.
Falafel is a Middle Eastern staple made from dried chickpeas and fava beans that are deep fried or baked in a fritter or ball. While they taste delicious in pita bread, those looking for fewer carbs can opt for this falafel protein bowl packed with an assortment of vegetables, a scoop of quinoa, and the tangy cucumber yogurt sauce known as tzatziki. One falafel patty has 7.5 grams of protein, so enjoy three for a protein-packed meal.
On days when I’ve had a heavy lunch, a salad is an ideal dinner — followed by some berries for dessert. This marinated tofu salad, with its creamy toasted sesame and soy dressing, makes you feel like you’re at a high-end Asian restaurant. It has the perfect marriage of flavors: crispy, marinated tofu, salt from the soy dressing, sweetness from the sesame seeds, and crunch from the vegetables.