Building a Plant-Based Kitchen Part 3: Protein
For the last part in this series of my recommended ingredients to build a flexible and functional plant-based kitchen, let's talk protein! It's a well-perpetuated myth that a plant-based diet provides inadequate amounts of protein. In reality, if we're eating enough calories to maintain our weight and eating a variety of whole plant-based foods, we're getting adequate amounts of protein. Interestingly enough, research has shown that plant-based diets that are lower in protein than the standard American diet, may give us an advantage when it comes to increased longevity and reduced risk for chronic disease.
Missed my earlier posts in the series? Check out part 1 on essential baking staples and part 2 on essential flavor enhancers here:
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Read on to find out which protein sources I always keep around!
For tofu as a protein source in Asian-inspired dishes, I prefer extra firm tofu. The Hodo brand or Nasoya Super Firm are my favorites.
-Easy protein source with veggies and rice
-Can be marinated and grilled. Fulfills a similar space in a meal to meat.
-Silken tofu can be used in soups, smoothies, pies, quiches to provide a creamy texture.
-Tofu scramble. Good at replicating eggs.
-Great source of protein, calcium, manganese
-Contains iron, phosphorous, zinc, magnesium, copper, phosphorous, selenium
-Nutrient-dense for few calories
Nuts- cashews, almonds, walnuts
Try to find unsalted. Raw cashews are recommended for sauces and cheeses.
-Cashew and almond cream sauces
-May be used to make non-dairy cheeses, depending on how adventurous you want to get!
-Crunchy topper/add texture to salads or tossed into Asian-inspired dishes
-Tossed into baked goods
-Walnuts are great in pesto as a cheaper and more nutritious alternative to pine nuts. This easy recipe is a winner.
-Cashews: Contain healthy mono and polyunsaturated fats which may reduce the risk of heart disease. Good source of protein, iron, magnesium, copper.
-Almonds: High in monounsaturated fats to reduce bad cholesterol levels. High in protein, fiber, vitamin E (may prevent oxidative stress in our bodies), calcium, iron, and riboflavin.
-Walnuts: High in Omega 3s, protein, fiber, and magnesium
-Satisfying breakfast option on whole-wheat toast
-Peanut butter/date/banana smoothies
-High in protein, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, niacin, vitamin B6
-Contains some saturated fat naturally and some from hydrogenated oil added to make stirring easier
-Some brands may contain salt. As always, best to check the label for sodium content!
Often found in natural food stores or online. I usually get them from Amazon. They are shelf-stable and great to buy in bulk.
-Anywhere you’d use steak or chicken strips. Best used in dry preparations (can be soggy in soup)
-Stir-fries, “chicken” salad sandwiches, tacos, “chicken” sandwiches
-High in protein, fiber
-Contains iron and potassium
Canned Beans-- white beans, chickpeas, black beans
-White beans: pureed into soups as a thickener, tossed into pasta or salads, to add nutrition and creaminess to mashed potatoes without additional potatoes
-Chickpeas: Chickpea salad sandwiches, roasted as a salad topper or snack, great in soup, hummus, chickpea blondies
-Black beans: Tacos, thrown into salads, black bean soup, burrito bowls, chili, salsa/cowboy caviar
-They are all nutritional powerhouses! Beans and more broadly legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas) may be the most beneficial food group to eat to benefit our health.
-White beans: High in protein, fiber, copper, B vitamins, and lots of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and calcium too!
-Chickpeas: High in protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, copper. Antidiabetic properties to help lower blood sugars
-Black beans: High in protein, fiber, manganese, magnesium, folate, thiamin, iron. May mitigate blood sugar levels after eating
-A great addition to tofu dishes
-Combine with veggies or fake meat for an easy meal
-Brown rice contains the entire rice grain including the bran, husk, and endosperm. Eating the whole grain=getting more nutrients
-Contains more fiber and protein than white rice
-When eaten in the place of white rice, may help reduce the risk of diabetes, lower blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and promote weight loss
Are there any items that I've omitted that are kitchen staples for you? Let me know in the comments below!