Protein in Plant-Based Food


By Val Wilson

Where is the protein in a plant-based vegan or vegetarian diet? I have been asked that question many times over the years of teaching cooking classes. My answer is simple and explains that there is plenty of protein in a plant-based, vegan or vegetarian diet. All foods that grow out of mother earth have protein. Even fruit has a small amount of protein. You get plenty of protein when you eat a diet consisting of whole plants from mother earth. The only situation you would have to be concerned you were not getting enough protein is if you are relying on packages, processed or refined vegan or vegetarian foods as your primary food source.

Determining how much protein you need per day can be confusing. There are factors to consider: age, weight, and activity level. The nutritional guidelines offer some help. However, I believe they recommend more protein than we need (that is a discussion for another time). An average would be 10 to 25 % of your daily intake or 20 to 30 g. per meal. That is very easy to achieve when eating whole, Plant-based, vegan or vegetarian food.
I will break down the following recipe to illustrate the amount of protein in this recipe. Tempeh – 45 g. Quinoa – 4 g. Mushrooms – 1.7 g. Peas – 4 g. Broccoli – 6 g. Carrots – 5.5 g. Arugula – .3 g. Sunflower Seeds – 6.18 g. Total protein – 72.68 g.

Quinoa Tempeh Broccoli Salad with Sunflower Seeds
1 (8 oz.) package of tempeh
1/2 cup mushrooms (chopped small)
1 T. olive oil
2 T. tamari
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 cups broccoli (cut up)
1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup arugula (cut up)
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
1 tsp. dulse flakes
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Put the tempeh in a food processor and puree to crumble the tempeh. Put the tempeh, mushrooms, 1 T. olive oil, and 2 T. tamari in a sauté pan. On medium heat, brown the tempeh. Turn off the heat and add 1/4 tsp. Paprika. Put the tempeh in a large mixing bowl to cool. To cook the quinoa, put in a pot the 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water, bring to a boil, reduce to the lowest possible temperature, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Add the hot quinoa to the mixing bowl. While the quinoa is still hot, mix in the frozen peas. The heat will lightly steam the peas. Steam the broccoli until fork tender (approx. 5 minutes) and add to the bowl. Let the ingredients in the bowl cool to room temperature before adding the ingredients: carrots, arugula, sunflower seeds, dulse flakes, olive oil, and sea salt. Mix everything, serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.


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