GF, Vegan & Raw/ Healthy Eating/ How-Tos/ RECIPES

12 Favorite Plant Sources Of Protein + 39 Plant Based Recipes

A question I get asked often as a plant- based eater, is “Where do you get your protein?”  Thanks to the meat and dairy industry, we Americans have it drilled into our brains that we need huge amounts of protein, so getting enough protein the first thing on every one’s mind when considering eating less animal foods.
I will answer that question in this post and with the help of Dr. Fuhrman’s words below.

From Dr. Fuhrman

In North America, about 70 percent of dietary protein comes from animal foods. Worldwide, plant foods provide 84 percent of calories. The first scientific studies to determine human protein requirements were conducted in the 1950s. These studies demonstrated that adults require 20-35 grams of protein per day.[1] Today, the average American consumes 100-120 grams of protein per day, mostly in the form of animal products. People who eat a vegetable- based diet (vegan) have been found to consume 60-80 grams of protein per day,well above the minimum requirement.[2] More importantly, eating more plant protein is the key to increasing our micronutrient intake.

 It is interesting to note that foods such as peas, green vegetables, and beans have more protein per calorie than meat. But what is not generally considered is that the foods richest in plant protein also are the foods richest in micronutrients-vitamins, minerals, fibers, bioflavonoids, & antioxidants. By eating more of these high-nutrient, low-calorie foods, you get plenty of protein and your body gets flooded with protective micronutrients at the same time. Animal protein does not contain antioxidants or phytochemicals and is filled with saturated fat – the most dangerous type of fat. Even a professional bodybuilder desiring to build half a pound of extra muscle per week only needs about seven extra grams of protein per day over normal intake. No complicated formulas or protein supplements are needed to get sufficient protein for growth, even in the serious athlete. Since exercise results in increased hunger, athletes consume more food (calories), which provides more protein.
I love the idea of eating foods with the MOST micronutrients.  This is why my husband and I have really jived with the Nutritarian lifestyle.  What is a Nutritarian?  It is a person who chooses their foods based on micronutrient content.   
Let’s go through the above foods and I will share with you how we incorporate them into our diet.
1. Almonds
This one is easy.   I love buying them sliced thin to use on salads.  Trader Joes has amazing Honey Roasted sliced almonds that make a salad taste like a treat.  We will eat whole, raw & unsalted, just plain as a snack, or grind them into almond butter in the food processor.  I use them in our Raw Taco “Meat” and will throw them into the base of Raw Raspberry Bliss Bars along with the walnuts.  Trader Joes also has Dark Chocolate & Salted Covered Almonds.  I eat a couple of these.  At night.  In bed.  While reading.  It makes me VERY happy!



More recipes from NN that use almonds:

Raw Cookie Dough Bites
Lemon “Larabar” Balls
Homemade Pesto
No Bake, No Sugar Chocolate “Larabar” Truffles
Delicious Strawberry-Kiwi Spinach Dump Salad
Fruit Pie With Apricot-Nut Crust
Chewy No Bake Granola Bars
Orange-Almond Polenta Cake With Strawberries

2. Avocados
Guacamole of course.  These are great thrown in smoothies instead of yogurt.  It makes the most creamy smoothies ever!  They are amazing in my Chocolate-Avocado Mousse with Raspberries recipe. They are good sliced thin on toast or thrown onto a sandwich or salad.

chocolate avocado mousse with raspberries

More recipes on NN that use avocado:

Black Bean, Corn, Avocado & Hominy Salad
5 Minute Creamy Avocado Dip
Chocolate-Avocado Mousse with Raspberries
Green Smoothie Popsicles
5 Minute Lemon Basil Guacamole Dip

3. Black Beans
Oh I love my black beans!  I eat some sort of bean daily and black beans are one of my favs.  They are great in wraps, on nachos, on salads.  I love them simply seasoned and on top of brown rice.


More recipes on NN that use black beans:

Go-To Easy Black Bean Soup
Quinoa & Black Bean Salad
Black Bean, Corn, Avocado & Hominy Salad
Bean & Corn Salsa With Rice, Cheese & Chips to Dip
My Go-To Chili Recipe
Mom’s Taco Salad

4. Broccoli
We eat our broccoli raw, steamed and roasted.  Raw broccoli dipped in hummus is a double- whammy for protein.  I love to steam it and season with salt, pepper & finely grated lemon peel.  Roasted is also a delicious way to eat broccoli.

5. Hummus
Hummus makes me happy.  I’ve been using it as a salad dressing.  Make a big green salad, add veggies, apples, dried cranberries & slivered almonds.  Top with a big blob of hummus.  YUM!  Hummus is great as a sandwich spread.  I use it to make my most favorite Hummus Sandwich Heaven.  Trader Joes has flat pretzel chips that go great with hummus.  Also makes a very healthy veggie dip.


6. Lentils.
I have yet to post one of my favorite lentil recipes here on the blog–coming soon!  Another favorite lentil recipe of ours is French Lentil Soup.  I could eat this soup almost daily, it is THAT good.  I make it every couple weeks.  Lentils are a quick cooking bean, and super easy to make!  We use them to make Red Lentil Sloppy Joes.  Mmmm…

7. Oatmeal.
8. Peanut Butter
We use it as a dip for apples.  We use on sandwiches, toast, or a dip for dark chocolate. We often top our bananas with it–slice banana lengthwise and smear with peanut butter–this is great way to add some protein to breakfast!

More recipes from NN that use peanut butter:

Peanut Butter Clouds
Fudgy Buttons


9. Pumpkin Seeds
I need to experiment more with these.  I have used them in this granola recipe and it was yummy. I also like them thrown on a spinach salad with along with chickpeas.  Spinach, chickpeas and pumpkin seeds all contain protein so it is a great way to put protein on your salad without meat.  What are ways YOU use pumpkin seeds?  



10. Quinoa
If you can make rice, you can make quinoa. It is one part water to one part grain, just like rice.  Quinoa is a STAPLE in our home.  It is a grain that is full of protein.  You can eat it hot or cold.  It has a bit of a nutty flavor, and takes on whatever flavor you add to it.  I love making cold quinoa vegetable salads in the summer, and eating it like you would a warm bowl of oats in the winter.  



11. Tempah
Tempah is a soy product, and with my breast cancer history I stay away from soy, so we do not eat much of it.  Honestly, I don’t trust many of the soy products in the United States since a huge percentage of it is GM.  BUT, if I do choose to eat soy, organic tempah is a product that I feel most comfortable with as it goes through a fermentation process which makes it extra healthy.  Tempah is a great way to add the “texture” of meat in dishes like vegetarian chili.  My local health food store makes an amazing Jamaican Jerked Tempah, and served over rice it gives on the feel of eating meat.  They also do a BBQ Tempah, and when slapped on a bun, even my meat-eating friends love it & comment that it feels and tasted like a BBQ beef sandwich.
12. Tofu
Not a fan, due to the reasons above.  I don’t buy it and I don’t use it.  
Also from Dr. Fuhrman
 Dr. Fuhrman

{to learn more, see Dr. Fuhrman‘s Eat To Live book.  One of my favorites!}

In the chart below, an equal caloric amount (100 calories) of porterhouse steak is compared to broccoli, romaine lettuce and kale. Broccoli provides the greatest amount of protein per calorie.

Green vegetables are all rich in protein, and relatively low in calories. They provide generous amounts of most micronutrients with no cholesterol and virtually no fat. Meat on the other hand, is relatively low in micronutrients. Remember whole grains, beans and seeds are also high in protein and should be utilized to achieve adequate protein on a diet with no or minimal animal products. But the point in this example was to illustrate how weight-loss favorable green vegetables are and that no matter how many green vegetables you eat, you still cannot take in too many calories. If you fill up on greens, they will reduce your desire and ability to overeat.

Broccoli, frozen,
chopped boiled
Beef Short Loin,
Porterhouse Steak,
separable lean & fat,
1/8 “ fat, broiled
Beef short Loin,
Porterhouse Steak,
separable lean & fat,
1/4” fat, broiled
Calories 100 100 100 100 100
Weight (g) 357 (12.6oz) 588 (20.7oz) 358 (12.6oz) 34 (1.2oz) 30 (1.0oz)
Protein (g) 11.1 7.2 6.8 8.0 6.5
Fat (g) 0.4 1.8 1.4 7.4 7.7
Carbohydrate (g) 19.2 19.4 20.2 0 0
Fiber 10.8 12.4 7.2 0 0
Cholesterol 0 0 0 24.1 21.6
Calcium (mg) 118 194 258 2.7 2.4
Iron (mg) 2.2 5.7 3.2 0.9 0.8
Magnesium (mg) 46 82 64.4 7.8 6.0
Potassium (mg) 507 1453 816.2 109 76.5
Vitamin C (mg) 143 23.5 146.8 0 0
Thiamin (mg) 0.2 0.4 0.2 0 0
Riboflavin (mg) 0.3 0.4 0.3 0 0
Niacin (mg) 1.6 1.8 1.8 1.4 1.2
Vitamin B6 (mg) 0.5 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.1
Folate (mcg) 200 800 46.5 2.4 2.1
Vitamin A (IU) 3609 51253 48763 0 0
Vitamin K (mcg) 315 603 2924 0 0

Source: Data was obtained from Nutritionist Pro Nutritional Analysis Software, Version 4.7, Axxya Systems , Stafford TX, 2012.

Please note that 100 calories of steak is only about one ounce, which is not much meat to fill you up. More typically, 4 – 8 ounces is eaten, supplying too many calories and too much animal protein without the lifespan enhancing micronutrients. Bottom line—eat more greens and less meat to get more micronutrient bang per caloric buck and to suppress your calorie intake.

plant based protein
The video below is one of the catchiest tunes about getting protein from plants. BEWARE if you watch it once, you will be singing it forever.  My kids and I have fun with this one, singing “Where do you get your iron? PLANTS!  Where do you get your calcium? PLANTS!”  It is cute and fun.

Last but not least, both my daughter and I had some blood work done recently.  I was very curious how her iron, B-12, calcium etc levels were since she is eating Nutritarian.

Both of our levels came back perfect, and BOTH of us were high in calcium, despite the fact that we eat very, VERY little dairy.

1. Rose W. The amino acid requirements of adult man.

Nutritional Abstracts and Reviews 1957;27:631. 2. Hardage M. Nutritional studies of vegetarians. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1966;48:25. 

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  • garden decorations
    September 6, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Thank you so much for sharing these healthy recipes!! You are just amazing!!!

  • upnorth
    March 10, 2013 at 9:04 pm

    Amy, what a great post!! I forwarded to my niece who is following Dr. Furhman’s diet. Thought she would like the help!! Me, too!!! You are so helpful!! Also, Amy, we need prayer, please pray for my husband! He’s been sick, I can’t go into detail right now, but it could be very serious! Bless you!!!

  • sweetapple3-
    March 10, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    This is fantastic! I’m slowly changing the way I eat and trying to go more plant based so now I just need you to come on over and life coach me through it, yes? 😉 I’m also very curious as to what you think about that “cheese” sauce you posted the other day. My Forks over Knives cookbook has a recipe, but it calls for 1 c of nutritional yeast which costs about $9 by itself so it didn’t really sound worth it to me. Your recipe looked better with just a couple tbls. Thanks for taking the time to put all this info together! I’m pinning!

    Dana @ Happy Little Lovelies

  • Cindy
    March 10, 2013 at 4:04 am

    What a wealth of nutritional knowledge you’ve shared with this post. Thank you!

  • Stephanie
    March 10, 2013 at 1:53 am

    What a great and beautiful post, Amy! I love tempeh! I just made some “bacon” strips from Verne Varona’s “Macrobiotics for Dummies. It was darn good. I put the tinest bit of brown rice syrup on them to seal the deal. Have you seen “Christina” by Christina Perillo? It’s a vegan show on PBS. I love her!

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