Amazing Vegetarian Protein Sources

Many people still believe that in order to get your full daily recommended protein intake, we need to consume meat products. That is in fact UNTRUE!

This is a list of some incredible vegetarian foods, including, beans, legumes, seeds and nuts that are great protein sources (and delicious!). So eat up!

I. Beans and Legumes:

There are so many different beans and legumes available, the list is endless! I am focusing on a few of my favorites here: Lentils, Black Beans, Edamame, Kidney Beans and Chickpeas!

1. Lentils:

Lentils come in many different varieties, and all are great sources of nutrition and protein. Lentils are about 31% protein per calorie. In 1 cup of cooked lentils there are 18 grams of protein.

For a complete list of great lentil recipes click here:

A couple of favorites are:

Classic Middle Eastern Lentil Soup - one of my favorite comfort food recipes! Full of lentils and veggies and flavored with cumin and coriander seeds, just an overall delicious soup!

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie - This is a variation of the classic comfort food shepherd’s pie. Instead of the minced meat filling I used lentils for a lighter fresher version of a classic!

2. Black Beans:

Black Bean Chili

Black beans are so flavorful and versatile and they are 25% protein per calorie. One cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein.

For a complete list of black bean recipes click here.

Here are some favorites:

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili - There’s just nothing like a big bowl of chili. In this version, silky sweet potato is paired with hearty black beans.

Black Bean and Mango Salsa - This is a great salsa to serve over tacos or enchiladas or even as a dip with tortilla chips.

Squash and Black Bean Enchiladas - A real crowd pleaser! The squash is ever so sweet and creamy which is offset by the black beans and gooey cheese! Perfect combination!

3. Edamame:

Edamame beans are really en vogue right now! They are Japanese soy beans and quite yummy! Edamame are 36% protein per calorie. One cup of edamame contains 17 grams of protein. Edamame are sold in the freezer section of your grocery store. You can buy them either in pods or shelled.

A really fun snack idea is to open up a bag of edamame in pods, and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Sprinkle with salt and a drizzle of water and microwave for about 6 minutes. You can just pop the beans out of the pods into your mouth - this is a great healthy snack while you watch TV!

Here are a couple of other recipes using edamame:

Edamame Noodle Soup - This is a delicious soup with a fun Asian twist. This soup starts with a quick Vietnamese style broth, and then throw in some protein packed edamame beans and udon noodles for a seriously satisfying meal!

Spicy Ginger Edamame - A fun spicy snack!

4. Kidney Beans:

There are red and white kidney beans. These beans are 27% protein per calorie. In 1 cup of cooked kidney beans there are 15 grams of protein.

For a complete list of recipes that use Kidney Beans click here

Some favorites are:

Roasted Garlic and White Bean Hummus - This is a change from the traditional chickpea hummus. White beans are slightly smoother in flavor which makes them a great pair for the roasted garlic.

Cornbread Topped with 3 Bean Chili - What a fun way to serve up your chili for a simple night at home or the next big game night! The moist cornbread cushion makes a beautiful bed for this delicious hearty and comforting chili!

Roasted Vegetable and White Bean Ratatouille - Roasting the vegetables really helps bring out their flavors in this dish in addition to making it a cinch to prepare!

5. Chickpeas:

If I had to have one legume for the rest of my life it would be the chickpea! Chickpeas are 23% protein. In one cup of chickpeas there are 15 grams of protein.

For a complete list of chickpea recipes click here.

Some of my favorite chickpea recipes are:

Chickpea and Rutabaga Tagine - In this classic Moroccan dish, the sweetness from the light honey glaze and dried fruit is offset by rutabaga – a bold flavor combination!

Curried Chickpea and Potato Pockets - This is like an Indian calzone! Curried potatoes and chickpeas are wrapped in a pizza dough and baked. A really a yummy treat for a snack or lunch!

Balsamic Swiss Chard and Chickpeas - Cooking the chickpeas in olive oil for such a long time makes them slightly crispy, while the garlic roasts until it is tender and delicious!

II. Nuts and Seeds:

Nuts and seeds make great snacks and breakfasts! I will focus on a few of my favorites here: Peanuts, Walnuts Chia Seeds, and Sesame Seeds.

1. Peanuts:

Peanuts are super versatile, great for either sweet or savory foods. Whether you spread peanut butter on your toast for breakfast or sprinkle them on your salad you should feel good knowing that 1 cup of peanuts contains 38 grams of protein. However, this is only 18% protein per calorie as peanuts are quite high in fat, so go easy!

For a complete list of peanut recipes click here.

A couple of my favorite peanut recipes are:

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Eggrolls! A delicious dessert that will amaze your guests! Chocolate and peanut butter in a deep fried treat!

Peanutty Cucumber “Noodle” Salad - This is a great refreshing “noodle” salad – where the noodles are made entirely of ... cucumbers!! Really yummy without the guilt!

2. Walnuts:

Walnuts are another great nut! Perfect for adding a little texture to muffins and breads as well as adding a little crunch to soups and salads. There are 18 grams of protein per cup of chopped walnuts.

Some great recipes to add walnuts to your meals:

Dates Stuffed with Blue Cheese and Walnuts This is a beautiful appetizer, that tastes fancy and sophisticated but only has 3 ingredients!

Spinach, Walnut and Roasted Pepper Pinwheels These are super fun and delicious little treats! They can be served as an appetizer for a dinner party or a fun upscale finger food for game day.

3. Chia Seeds:

Chia seeds are the newest super food! These little seeds are best known for Chia Pudding, made by soaking overnight in milk, but they can also be sprinkled over veggies or pulverized in smoothies. In 100 Grams of Chia Seeds there are 17 grams of protein.

Some great Chia Recipes are:

Chia, Spinach and Cucumber Smoothie - This is a really energizing smoothie to get your day started! With all the power from the spinach and chia seeds and super hydration from the cucumbers!

Chia Banana-Pumpkin Seed Pudding - I love to eat this as a breakfast to give me energy for the day! The bananas add a sweet creaminess while the pumpkin seeds add a little crunch to this comforting bowl.

3. Sesame Seeds:

Sesame seeds are great on their own, but they are also the main ingredient in tahini, which is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are about 13% protein per calorie. In 1 cup of sesame seeds there are 26 grams of protein.

Some great recipes for sesame are:

Crunchy Udon Tahini Bowl - as you eat this great bowl of food the noodles get mixed perfectly with the veggies and it feels so satisfying!

Sesame Date Broccoli Salad - This is a beautiful Middle Eastern twist on a broccoli salad. Adding toasted sesame seeds with the tahini gives you a double dose of sesame!

III. Grains:

Believe it or not, grains will give you protein too!

1. Quinoa:

While Quinoa is not officially a grain it is actually a seed, it poses as a grain in many dishes which is why I felt it appropriate to keep in the grain section! Quinoa is about 15% protein per calorie. In 1 cup of cooked quinoa there are 8 grams of protein.

For a complete list of quinoa recipes click here.

Some favorite quinoa recipes are:

Herbed Quinoa with Chickpeas and Walnuts: A really nice refreshing quinoa salad! Full of fresh herbs this is a great salad for a potluck or to serve as a grain with any meal!

Quinoa and Black Bean Taco Bowl: You gotta love these huge “bowls” for dinner! This one is Mexican inspired with hearty quinoa and black beans on top of crisp lettuce, creamy avocado and all topped with a chipotle lime sour cream!

Quinoa with Beans and Kale: great mix of so many superfoods! This simple dish will keep you full of energy all day!

2. Cornmeal:

Cornmeal is made from grinding dried corn. It is used in dishes such as cornbread and polenta. In 100 grams of cornmeal there are 10 grams of protein which is about 10% protein per calorie.

Some great recipes using cornmeal are:

Skillet Cornbread: This is such a beautiful presentation for a cornbread served straight out of the skillet! Its great for a casual brunch get together or the big game day!

Cheddar Chipotle Cornbread: This is delicious served on the side of a black bean soup or even as a bread for a brunch. It is slightly spicy, smoky and cheesy!

Grilled Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes: This is a great appetizer to serve when hosting a casual get together! Put out the cubes of polenta with a nice bowl of roasted tomatoes and let your guests top their polenta bites with the beautifully caramelized morsels of tomatoes!

3. Bulghur:

Bulghur is a Middle Eastern grain famous for its starring role in the Classic Taboule salad. It is also a great side dish to serve with some veggies or as a salad on its own. In 1 cup of cooked bulghur there are 6 grams of protein which is 16% protein per calorie.

Some great recipes for this grain:

Tomato and Bulgur Pilaf: Try this different method of cooking bulgur – it works as a beautiful side dish and brings out the natural nuttiness of the grain.

Herbed Bulghur: This is a great way to make bulghur the star! Full of fresh parsley and mint!

4. Oats:

Oats are a great nutritious breakfast food! 1 cup of oats will give you 26 grams of protein which is 17% per calorie.

Some great recipes to eat up those oats are:

Pecan date Steel Cut Oats: If you are looking for an incredible hearty breakfast that will energize you for the day – this is it!

Easy and Healthy Banana Oatmeal Snacks: Great for a breakfast on the go, or an after workout snack!

Crunchy Nutty Porridge: The crunchy texture of the nuts blends so nicely with the soft milky oat mixture! It is so healthy, if you eat this for breakfast you will feel satisfied and energetic for hours!

So next time someone tells you you can only get enough protein from meat tell them they are wrong and show them this article!

Stay tuned for the next article in this series ... Vegetables that you can count on for protein!

Happy cooking!

The Vegetarian Gourmet


Get Organized