Protein-Packed Vegan Meals: defeating myths and misconceptions

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Are you keeping a tally as to how many times you’ve been struck with the inquisitive look accompanied by the ultimate question every non-vegan fires at a vegan? “But where do you get your protein from?”, the look of pure bafflement never fails to evoke a slight chuckle in me.

It is a common misconception that vegans under achieve their RDA for protein and are more susceptible to protein deficiencies. Now, just hold on a minute here; a well balanced plant-based diet provides protein in plentiful supply without the need for complicated dietary regimes or special supplements. In fact, Young and Pellett (1994) established that those who pursue a varied, vegan lifestyle retrieve adequate amounts of essential amino acids – the building blocks of protein – and that (without getting into too much science) this actually facilitates the prevention of protein deficiency. There are many, many sources of plant-based protein including: beans,ebeefdamame, nuts, peas, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, amaranth and lentils, which provide adequate amounts, if not more protein per 100g than meat-based alternatives. For instance, data from the USDA National Nutrient Database shows how 100g of soy provides 22g more protein compared to 100g of beef (see chart below), highlighting that protein recommendations can be met without relying on a daily rump steak or turkey breast!

I think the biggest thing in this case is that people are unaware of the great array of plant-based alternatives to meat, and are cemented to the idea that the only thing vegans eat are salad leaves and every other edible green plant! Although these green cruciferous veggies offer a great source of iron, calcium and other essential micronutrients they are most definitely not the only things us vegans eat. Its time to defeat the “meat is the only protein” myth and raise people’s awareness of the goodness of building healthy, plant-based protein alternatives into their daily meal plan.

Below I’ve composed 10 meals which are great sources of protein, such as soy which has been proven to help lower levels of low-density lipoprotein in the blood (Pipe et al, 2009), reduce the risk of cancer (Yan and Spitznagel, 2009) and reduce premature death (Shu et al, 2009).

Asparagus, Mange Tout and Tofu Soba Noodle Stir Fry
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(Serves 1)
Ingredients:

30g mange tout
6 asparagus spears
75g soba noodles
100g extra-firm tofu
100g dried lentils
Small handful cashew nuts (15g)
2 tbsp Tamari Soy sauce
1 tsp coconut oil

Method:
1. Begin by bringing 500ml water to a boil in a saucepan, add the dried lentils and boil for a further 10 minutes before reducing to a simmer. Allow to simmer for a further 15 minutes or until the lentils have softened but are slightly firm to the bite.
2. In a separate saucepan of boiling water add the soba noodles and boil for 10 minutes.
3. Melt the coconut oil in a frying pan or wok and add the tofu (cut into small 2 inch cubes)
4. Allow the tofu to cook for about 5 minutes, flip over and cook for a further 5 minutes or so or until golden brown in colour.
5. Add the mange tout and asparagus spears to the frying pan and sauté.
6. Once the lentils and soba noodles are cooked drain and add to the frying pan along with the soy sauce and cashew nuts.
7. Reduce heat and allow to cook through for a further few minutes.
8. Serve and enjoy!

Kcal 466 | C: 55g | P: 37g | F: 13g 


Quinoa and Brown Rice bowl with Spicy Beans and Mixed Vegetables

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(Serves 1)
Ingredients:

125g Tilda’s Brown Basmati Rice and Quinoa
200g Tinned Napolina Spicy Bean Salad
80g pinto beans
80g trimmed green beans
50g shredded red cabbage
1 small red pepper, diced


Method:
1. Empty 200g of the tinned bean salad and 80g of pinto beans into a saucepan and heat gently on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes
2. Empty half the rice sachet into a frying pan along with 2 tsps of warm water and cook for 3 minutes on a medium heat – alternatively, squeeze the sachet of rice to separate the rice slightly, tear the top corner of the pouch (2cm) and heat upright in a microwave for 2 minutes (800W).
3. Thinly slice the red cabbage, place in a steamer basket along with the green beans and red pepper above a simmering pan of water, cover and allow to steam for 5-8 minutes.
4. Once the vegetables, rice and beans are cooked serve and enjoy!

Kcal 556 | C: 84g | P: 31g | F: 7g


Kale, Butterbean, Avocado and Red Pepper Fusilli

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(Serves 1)
Ingredients:
75 g Brown Fusilli Pasta Uncooked
100g Kale
100g tinned Napolina Butter Beans
1/2 Avocado
Small red bell pepper cubed
1 tbsp Sunflower Seeds
50g Italian Chopped tomatoes (tinned)
1 tsp Chilli flakes (optional)

Method:
1. Add the fusilli to a pan of boiling water and leave to simmer for 10-12 minutes
2. To a steamer basket above a saucepan of simmering water place the chopped kale and bell pepper, steam for 7-10 minutes depending on thickness of the kale.
3. Once steamed, drain the pasta and add the butter beans (drained) along with the steamed kale, pepper and chopped tomatoes. Leave on the heat for a further 2-4 minutes just to warm through.
4. Top with the chopped avocado, sunflower seeds and chilli flakes if desired.

Kcal: 673 | C: 91g | P: 28g | F: 18g


Butternut Squash and Cannelloni Bean Veggie Pizza

amazing-10-ingredient-butternut-squash-and-vegetable-pizza-vegan-recipe-pizza-fall-butternutsquash-healthy-dinner.jpg
(Serves 2)

Ingredients:
120g Butternut Squash
3 Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp Olive Oil
60g Broccoli
80g Red Onion
100g Chickpeas
100g Cannelini Beans
Trader Joes Wholewheat Pizza Dough
1 tsp Dried Oregano
25g Vegan Mozzarella (optional)

Method:
1. To make the butternut squash pizza topping begin by drizzling 1 tbsp olive oil over the butternut squash and garlic cloves and roast in a 200 C preheated oven for 15-20 minutes until the squash is tender.
2. Once roasted, add the squash and garlic to a food processor/blender with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil. Puree until smooth and creamy. You want to be able to spread this on the pizza dough so if the consistency is too thick, add a splash of water.
3. In a frying pan add 1 tsp coconut oil (sub for vegetable if coconut unavailable) and sauté the broccoli, chick peas, cannelloni beans, oregano and onion for 2-3 minutes.
4. Roll out the pizza dough into a an even circle and place on a lined baking tray.
5. Top the dough with the pureed butternut squash topping, add the veggies and crumble on a touch of vegan mozzarella.
6. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.
7. Cut in half, share with a loved one or place in a tupperware container to keep in the fridge for your lunch the following day! Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days.

Kcal: 652 | C: 94.3g | P: 30g | F: 15g


Black Bean, Beetroot, and Oat Burger

beet-and-bean-burger-96184-1.jpeg(Makes 6 burgers)
Ingredients:
110g Rolled Oats
120g Tinned Black Beans
10g Parsley
1 Small Red Onion
1 Clove Garlic – minced
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Ground Paprika
150g Shredded Beetroot
1 tbsp Olive Oil

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 200 C and line a baking tray with baking parchment.
2. In a bowl mash the black beans with a fork until they are mostly pureed, but there are still some whole/half beans left.
3. Stir in the paprika, cumin, parsley, shredded beetroot, red onion and minced garlic. Massage gently with your hands (or a fork if your not willing to get a tad messy) – but be careful not to completely pureed all the beans.
4. Gently mix in the oats and olive oil and shape in to 6 equal patties. (If the mixture isn’t sticking try adding 1 tbsp maple syrup or organic honey.
5. Place the patties on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes, flip over and bake for a further 5-7 minutes on the other side, or until nice and crisp on the outside.
6. Serve in a wholemeal bun, top with lettuce leaves, beetroot hummus or any salad garnish of your choice. If your tummy is calling, why not add a side of spicy sweet potato wedges.

Based on 1 burger (without bread bun, condiments and extra toppings)
Kcal: 212 | C: 27g | P: 10g | F: 6.8g


Spinach, Squash and Mushroom Tofu Scramble

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(Serves 1)
Ingredients:

100g Extra Firm Tofu (drained and pressed for 10 minutes)
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp Ground Black Pepper
30g Baby Spinach
1 tsp Coconut Oil
70g Button Mushrooms
1/2 Small Bell Pepper
1 tbsp Sunflower Seeds

Method:
1. In a heated pan melt the coconut oil and sauté the onion until translucent and golden.
2. Add the pepper and mushrooms to the pan, sauté for a further few minutes until softened.
3. Use your hands to gently crumble in the tofu to the pan, stir well and combine with veggies.
4. Add in the turmeric, cumin and black pepper, stir and ensure tofu is evenly coated (it will begin to turn a bright orange colour – blame the turmeric!!). Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add the spinach to the pan and sauté for a couple of minutes until it begins to wilt.
6. Serve and garnish with sunflower seeds. Enjoy as a balanced breakfast, post-workout lunch or evening meal – add or remove veggies and customise to your acquired tastes. To boost the carbohydrate content of the meal serve with roasted sweet potato, butternut squash or courgette. Tofu is such a versatile ingredient, so easy to cook and adaptable to many different sweet and savoury tastes!

Kcal: 220 | C: 15g | P: 19g | F: 15g


Lemon Fettuccine Alfredo


skinny-fettuccine-alfredo.jpgIngredients:
125ml Soy Milk
7g Sliced Almonds
1 tbsp Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes
1/2 tbsp Lemon Zest
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1 Garlic Clove
10g Fresh Parsley
75g Fettuccine Brown Rice Pasta
28g Tofutti Soy Cream Cheese
Small Handful Unsalted Cashew Nuts

Method: 
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the fettuccine for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, drain and reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.
2. Add the soy milk, soy cream cheese, almonds, nutritional yeast, lemon zest and pepper to a food processor/blender and process until smooth.
3. Heat the oil and garlic in a pan over a medium heat. Once the garlic starts to sizzle and soften (about 1 minute) add the soy milk mixture and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Bring to a simmer and cook until thick and creamy, about 8 minutes.
4. Remove from the heat, add the fettuccini and parsley and toss to combine.
5. Thin out with a little more pasta water if needed.
6. Top with cashew nuts
6. As always, you can add in a few extra veggies to suit your likes (Kale or spinach works well with this recipe!)

Kcal: 659 | C: 59g | P: 22g | F: 34g

Kale, Edamame and Soy Tofu Brown Rice Burrito Bowl

spicy-thai-stir-fried-kale-with-coconut-and-rice(Serves 1)
Ingredients:

Tilda Brown Basmati Rice, 1 Serving (180g)
1 Small Onion
100g Extra Firm Tofu
150g Edmame Beans
1 clove Garlic
1 tbsp Tamari Soy Sauce
100g Kale
1 tbsp Sunflower Seeds
1/2 Small Bell Pepper
1 tsp Dried Oregano
1 tsp Coconut Oil

Method: 
1. Cook brown basmati rice according to package directions, substituting vegetable broth for water.
2. While the rice is cooking, heat the coconut oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat, add the garlic and onion. Sauté for 2 minutes and then add the tofu, stirring frequently until browned.
3. Next, add the edamame beans, peppers, tamari and oregano and stir.
4. Once the rice is cooked, add to the frying pan, turn heat to low and cover for 5-10 minutes.
5. While the rice mixture is on low, steam kale in a steamer basket above a saucepan of simmering water or in the microwave and then toss with the sunflower seeds.
6. Serve the rice along side the kale, and enjoy! (Add extra tamari if desired, but be mindful of the sodium content!)

Kcal: 582 | C: 72g | P: 30g | F: 18g


Banana-Chocolate Protein Oats

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Ingredients:
1 medium banana
40g Quaker Rolled Oats
300ml Alpro Chocolate Soy Milk
2 Strawberries
4 Blueberries
Drizzle Sweet Freedom Choc Shot


Method:
1. If you have some extra time on your hands mash a 3/4 of a banana with a fork (place the remaining 1/4 aside for now), mix 40g of Quaker Oats with 300ml of Alpo Soy Milk (or cold water) and add to the banana in a saucepan .
2. Bring to the boil and allow to simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Serve in a bowl and top with fresh berries, extra banana coins and a drizzle of choice shot.
4. If you are in a rush mix oats with milk and banana and heat in the microwave for 4 minutes (700W),  or 3 1/2 minutes (800W).
5. Depending on how thick you like your porridge adjust the time you allow it to cook – if you prefer a runnier consistency cook for less time and vice versa.
6. This meal can be enjoyed as a yummy breakfast, lunch or post-workout meal – change the toppings as you wish, or use plain Soy milk if you don’t fancy chocolate. Add a tsp of vanilla extract, or the zest of a lemon and some lemon juice to add a bitter sweet twist on this delicious dish!

Kcal: 461 | C: 83g | P: 17g | F: 7g

As always, any feedback will be greatly appreciated! If there is any recipes you would like with specific criteria (i.e. Breakfasts, snacks, low fat etc) please don’t hesitate to drop a comment or contact me via the form below.

Happy reading,
Grace x


 



References
Young, V. R., Pellett, P. L. (1994). Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. American Journal Clinical of Nutrition, Vol.59(5), pp.1203S-1212S.
States Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference (Release 28, 2016)
Pipe, E. A., Gobert, C. P., Capes, S. E., Darlington, G. A., Lampe, J. W., Duncan, A. M. (2009). Soy protein reduces serum LDL cholesterol and the LDL cholesterol: HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B: apolipoprotein A-I ratios in adults with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Nutrition, Vol.139(9), pp.1700–1706.
Yan, L., Spitznagel, E. L. (2009). Soy consumption and prostate cancer risk in men: a revisit of a meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol.89(4), pp.1155–1163.
Shu, X.O., Zheng, Y., Cai, H. et al. Soy food intake and breast cancer survival. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol.302(22), pp.2437–2443.

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