New year, new you. Great! Eating more greens and less meat. Great! But what to put atop of all of those veggie-licious salads? If you’re looking to bulk up the heft and nutrition content of your meatless salads, try adding these 7 vegetarian protein sources. And cheers to a newer and healthier you!
- Tempeh. One cup of tempeh packs in a whopping 31 grams of protein, along with other minerals like calcium, iron, and B vitamins. The fact that tempeh is made from fermenting soybeans gives it additional health perks: the fermentation process allows for greater absorption of minerals in the body, and also increases digestion of the food. Simply steam or blanch the tempeh for 10 minutes, then cube it and add to salad or choice. Or grate it until the consistency becomes like ground meat, sauté with spices, then add to a Mexican-inspired salad.
- Eggs. For vegetarians who consume eggs, adding a single large egg to your salad can tack on an extra 6 grams of protein, and it’s a good source of riboflavin, phosphorus, and Vitamin B12. And an article on MayoClinic.org states that eggs, while high in cholesterol, do not harm our overall blood cholesterol like saturated fats, trans fats, and a high-sodium diet do. Aside from diabetics, author Francisco Lopez-Jimenez suggests that most healthy individuals can safely consume up to seven eggs per week.
- Green peas. Forget about the mushy canned green peas you possibly remember from childhood. Plump, juicy fresh or frozen green peas are delicious and not to mention good for you. A cup of raw green peas contains 8 grams of protein, along with 7 grams of fiber and 97 percent of your vitamin C requirements! Add to virtually any salad you like, but they’re especially good with yogurt-based dressings and fresh herbs like mint or parsley.
- Lentils. Lentils come in all sorts of varieties—French green, brown lentils, and red lentils being the most familiar—and they’re all a great choice for bulking up your salads with heft and health. One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein and an impressive 16 grams of fiber! To use them in your salads, cook until soft-but-not-mushy, and toss with mixed greens, fresh herbs, chopped fruits, and dressing of choice.
- Beans. Beans of all sorts are known for adding fiber, bulk, and satiety to virtually any meal. One cup of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein and 12 grams of fiber, while one cup of black beans contains 15 grams of each, and one cup of white beans will provide 19 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber. There’s no wrong way to use beans in your salads—they pair with practically all greens, herbs, vegetables, and dressings out there.
- Hemp seeds. Hemp seeds are a newer favorite supplement among vegetarians because they provide not only protein, but also healthy fats for a meatless diet. A 30-gram serving of hemp seeds provides 11 grams of protein, along with 16 percent iron. Use them sparingly on salads, as you would chopped nuts or sunflower seeds, and sprinkle them on any finished plate for a delicious nutty crunch.
- Greek yogurt. Made from strained yogurt, this style is thicker than traditional yogurt, and contains a notable 11 grams of protein per 2/3 cup serving. Use it to make your salad dressing, and using various citrus, herbs, vinegars, and nut butters you can make an endless array of dressings. Start with our recipe for Tahini Yogurt Sauce here.
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