It seems everyone is going plant-based these days. Case in point: Sales in the plant-based food category grew five times faster than total U.S. retail food sales from 2018 to 2019, according to the Good Food Institute.
And what's not to love? Eating more plants (and thus less meat) means we're being kinder to the environment and our bodies, including our hearts and waistlines.
But when people talk about eating plant-based, or eating less meat, some of the common concerns we hear are, "I won't be able to get enough protein" or "Does this mean I have to eat tofu all the time?" Our responses: False and no.
Here are five delicious tofu-free recipes ranging from breakfast to lunch and dinner — all with 15 grams of protein or more per serving.
Are You Getting Enough Protein?
1. Bunless Red Beet Burgers With Arugula and Goat Cheese
These days, there are plenty of "fake meat" burger options available; and while they can be rather tasty, they're heavily processed and should be enjoyed in moderation. These beet burgers are another story: The patties are packed with real, nutritious foods such as, kidney beans, mushrooms, brown rice, beets and hemp seeds.
Beets have a unique plant compound called betaine, which has been shown to lower homocysteine levels, a marker linked to heart disease. A March 2013 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine observed that supplementing with betaine over the course of six weeks significantly reduced homocysteine levels.
Get the Bunless Red Beet Burgers With Arugula and Goat Cheese recipe and nutrition info here.
2. Gingery Asian Tempeh, Broccoli and Rice Soup
You probably won't miss the meat with this one — tempeh steps in giving some "meat" and texture to the soup while the vegetable broth with soy sauce gives it an umami flavor.
ICYMI: Tempeh is a fermented soy product that packs more protein than tofu and also provides you with a good amount of calcium and gut-healthy prebiotics. With 19 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, you're sure to get your fill from this hearty soup.
Get the Gingery Asian Tempeh, Broccoli and Rice Soup recipe and nutrition info here.
3. Plant-Protein-Powered Mac and 'Cheese'
This recipe is not only plant-based, but it's also completely dairy-free, thanks to the butternut squash and nutritional yeast, which creates a nice base for vegan cheese.
Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast (as in it won't help your bread rise) called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation. Two tablespoons of nutritional yeast provide 5 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B6 and folate.
This recipe includes chicken broth but you could easily use vegetable broth to make this a 100-percent vegan recipe.
Get the Plant-Protein-Powered Mac and 'Cheese' recipe and nutrition info here
4. Vegan Paleo Rainbow Carrot Poke
Vegan and paleo-friendly? It happens more than you think. (Enter: Pegan Diet.) This rainbow carrot poke, which plays nicely with most diets also happens to be high in protein thanks to the sea beans and sesame seeds.
Sea beans are grown in coastal areas (they aren't actually seaweed) and can be grown using seawater to irrigate. What's unique about them as a plant is that they're high in protein, including a substantial amount of essential amino acids, along with many minerals including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and phosphorus, according to an analysis published in LWT-Food Science and Technology in April 2010.
Get the Vegan Paleo Rainbow Carrot Poke recipe and nutrition info here.
5. Half-Homemade Chili
Consider this the perfect solution to an easy dinner that still delivers a healthy meal. And half-homemade is just that — pump up a serving of canned vegetarian chili by adding green peppers and chopped cashews and, voila, dinner is served.
This meal has 20 grams of protein and takes 10 minutes to prepare. It also has 11 grams of fiber thanks in part to the beans found in the canned chili. This is especially important since we're in a fiber deficit: On average, we're only eating 16 grams of fiber a day, according to the USDA, which is a far cry from the recommended 25 to 38 grams per day.
Fiber can help us manage our weight, reduce our risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and keep us regular.
Get the Half-Homemade Chili recipe and nutrition info here.
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- Good Food Institute: "Plant-Based Food Retail Sales are Growing 5x Total Food Sales"
- Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: "Betaine Supplementation Decreases Plasma Homocysteine in Healthy Adult Participants: A Meta-Analysis"
- International Food Information Council Foundation: "The Rising Agent: Nutritional Yeast"
- LWT-Food Science and Technology: "Nutritional Characterization and Changes in Quality of Salicornia Bigelovii Torr. During Storage"