As a lifelong vegan, the question I always get asked the most is “where do you get your protein from?” This question used to drive me absolutely crazy. I thought it was annoying that so many people think protein only comes from meat.
But over the past few years as I have experienced fluctuations in my diet and lifestyle, I ended up eating my words. If you’re not careful, it is actually pretty easy to be protein deficient on a vegan diet. I learned this the hard way, when carbs made me a bitch.
The main issue was when I stopped eating beans. Beans were a staple protein source for me growing up, but once I met my husband (who despises beans) I quickly eliminated them from my diet. I wanted to be able to cook for both of us, so making food we could both eat started to become a challenge.
I went through quite a physically and emotionally rough time, as I was depriving my body of the protein I needed, and it affected me in a variety of ways.
Finally, I figured out that what I needed was more protein in my diet. I have solved that with a few additions such as protein powder in my smoothies, and soy milk instead of almond (it has over 5x as much protein).
Additionally, I started seeking out more protein-focused recipes to try. Rather than a vegan pasta dish that is full of carbs, I now look for dishes with tofu, tempeh, or beans as the main ingredient.
If you are newly vegan or just want to try some new plant based dishes, check out these delicious recipes borrowed from my mom Holistic Gen.
SPICY COCONUT GARBANZO BEANS
2 cans garbanzo beans
1 medium potato
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp curry paste
4 cups fresh spinach
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 cup water (add a little extra water if necessary)
Sauté potatoes in coconut oil for 10 minutes.
Add onions and continue to cook until onions are translucent.
Add garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes.
Add garbanzo beans and sauté for 5 more minutes.
Add curry paste, coconut milk and water and let simmer until potato pieces are tender.
Remove from heat and mix in spinach. Serve over brown rice.
SWEET & SALTY TOFU BRUSSEL SPROUTS
1-15oz pkg. sprouted tofu
4 cups shredded brussel sprouts
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves (chopped)
1/2 cup pecans (coarsely chopped)
1 tbsp. Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt & pepper to taste
Rinse tofu and squeeze out excess water.
Slice into approximately 1/4 inch slices and pat with a cloth to remove any remaining water.
Sauté tofu in large skillet in 1 tbsp. olive oil until golden brown.
Remove from pan and place on a plate and pour Bragg over tofu and marinate while preparing brussel sprouts.
Sauté brussel sprouts for 2 minutes in remaining olive oil. Add garlic, pecans, salt and pepper and sauté for another 5 minutes.
Pour maple syrup over tofu.
Add tofu to brussel sprouts mixture.
Blend together and serve hot!
VEGAN CHICK’N SALAD
2 vegan chik’n cutlets
1 celery stalk (finely chopped)
1/2 small onion (finely chopped)
2 tbsp. vegan mayonnaise (Veganaise is my favorite)
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. Paprika
Sauté cutlets in olive oil and brown on both sides.
Let cutlets cool down and cut into bite sized pieces.
In a bowl add all other ingredients to the cutlet pieces and mix together.
Let sit in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Eat on its own or on your favorite bread or bun.
TEMPTING TEMPEH ON MILLET TOAST WITH AVOCADO SPREAD
1/2- 8oz pkg. Tempeh
4 slices millet bread
1/2 medium size onion (cut into thin slices)
1/2 green pepper (cut into thin strips)
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 avocado (mashed)
4 tbsp. Gen’s Special Sauce (see recipe here)
Sautee onion and green pepper in 1/2 tbsp. olive oil until onion is carmelized. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cut tempeh piece in half and then slice in half again to avoid it being too “thick”.
Sauté tempeh in remaining olive oil until brown on both sides.
Toast bread until brown and crispy.
Whip mashed avocado until creamy smooth and add to the special sauce. Blend together.
Spread avocado/sauce on millet toast.
Place browned tempeh on top of toast, add sautéd onions and peppers for a delicious healthy sandwich.
Makes two sandwiches.
1-16oz pkg. extra firm tofu (sprouted if possible)
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 green pepper
1/2 can garbanzo beans
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. dried cilantro
1 tbsp. Bragg Aminos
1/4 tsp. Cayenne
Rinse tofu and blot dry with a cloth napkin.
Sauté onion in olive oil for 2 minutes before crumbling tofu into pan.
Continue to sauté for about another 5 minutes.
Add green pepper and garbanzo and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add water, cilantro, Bragg Aminos and cayenne and let simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.
Serve with butternut squash (mashed with vegan butter and a little salt and pepper) or your favorite vegetable.
FABULOUS FAUX TUNA
2 cans (15oz) garbanzo beans
2 stalks celery finely chopped
1/2 small onion finely chopped
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp. brown mustard
1 tbsp. dried cilantro or 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
Cherry tomatoes cut in halves.
Drain garbanzo beans and place in large mixing bowl. Mash beans with potato masher until desired consistency is reached (slightly chunky).
Add all remaining ingredients and mix well.
Cut pita bread in half and insert bean mixture.
Top with sprouts and cherry tomatoes.
What's your favorite source of plant protein? Let me know in the comments below!