One of the first questions I always get when someone finds out that I eat mostly a plant based diet is "how do you get enough protein?" Now I know that some vegetarians actually get pretty frustrated by this question because there are so many non-meat options that provide us with incredible sources of protein, and the question in some ways implies that protein needs to come from meat. However, what many vegetarians leave out of their answer is that while getting enough protein as a vegetarian is possible, it does require more work, planning, and innovation.
When I first became a vegetarian there was absolutely no way that I was getting enough protein. Yes, I was eating tons of healthy fruits and vegetables, and a whole bunch of healthy grains, but I still was not getting enough protein, and certainly not complete proteins. I really wasn't prepared at a younger age to prioritize how I was going to replace my 25g of X meat protein, 2-3 times per day, with an equally complete vegetarian protein source.
Over the years I have however become more creative in how I am able to get the most protein as possible in each meal/snack, because here is the honest truth...you have to eat a much larger volume of vegetarian food to get the same amount of protein. 3 oz of meat has roughly 25g of protein, while a protein rich grain such as quinoa for example only provides 4 grams. So here is my advice...develop protein rich meals by combining a variety of protein rich foods to collectively reach your protein goals in a day.
One of my favorite go to protein-rich meals is this Quinoa and Edamame Salad that is filled with roughly 15 g of complete protein and loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full, longer.
QUINOA AND EDAMAME BEAN SALAD
This salad is the perfect combination of healthy veggies, and protein rich grains and legumes that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 can black beans
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1.5 cups frozen corn
- 2 cups frozen edamame
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 orange bell pepper
- 1 cucumber (peeled)
- 1 Tb chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 Tb olive oil
- Bring 2 cups off water to boil over high heat. Rinse quinoa in cool water, and then add to boiling water. Reduce water to simmer and cook for roughly 15-20 minutes.
- While quinoa is cooking, drain and rinse black beans, and allow frozen corn and edamame to thaw (~ 2 minutes in the microwave). Once thawed add beans, corn, and edamame to large bowl.
- Next, chop tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumber into small pieces and add to bowl.
- Finely chop cilantro, and add to bowl along with salt, olive oil, and chia seeds.
- Once quinoa has cooked, drain from water and add to bowl.
- MIx together and serve.