More people are trying to reduce their meat intake throughout the week, however, they are concerned about how they can access enough protein without the meat products that they are used to. So, we thought now is a perfect time, with Veganuary just around the corner, to introduce you to some healthy and delicious vegan protein sources that can replace meat protein sources in your meals! All of these ingredients are affordable and delicious with a bit of TLC. Get ready to take inspiration from these vegan protein sources and learn a bit more about how you can use them.
One of the highest protein plant-based foods is tofu, with 8g of protein in every 100g of tofu. Many people are afraid to buy or eat tofu as it has a reputation for being bland, but most foods are bland until you add some flavour to them! So, we are here to show you how easy it is to make tofu delicious. It is such a diverse ingredient and can be used in pasta, curries, noodle dishes, as a scramble to replace eggs, in salads, anything really!
There are so many different recipes out there, but today we will be introducing you to sweet and sour tofu! Start with a block of pressed extra firm tofu. Cut it into bite-size pieces and in a separate bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of cornstarch, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon paprika. Toss the tofu pieces in soy sauce and then into this mixture, making sure each piece is coated well. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and bake the tofu for 30 minutes until nice and crispy.
While this is cooking, put your rice on. In another bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 5 tablespoons pineapple juice and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. In a frying pan, fry off peppers and onions then set aside. Add all of the ingredients from the bowl into the saucepan and allow to just come to a boil. Combine one tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and add this slurry to the saucepan. Once the sauce has thickened, take off the heat and add the onions and peppers, as well as some chunks of pineapple.
When the tofu is cooked, add it to the sweet and sour sauce. Serve this on top of your fluffy rice for a delicious and healthy meal!
Lentils are another great vegan protein source that is healthy and has 9g of protein per 100g. Again, lentils can be seen as bland, but with the right care, they are delicious and very filling. You can add lentils to soups, salads, pasta sauces or anything else you like! Our favourite lentil recipe is beetroot and lentil tabbouleh.
Start by putting 2 whole cooked and peeled beetroots into a food processor with a handful each of parsley, mint and radishes. Blitz this until you achieve an almost smooth consistency, then add a thinly sliced apple, 1 teaspoon of cumin, 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 400g of chickpeas and 400g cooked green lentils. Then, add the juice of two lemons and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients together well in a bowl and enjoy! If you are attending a dinner party, this makes a great vegan main option.
Last but not least, we have nuts! Every nut is different so will have slightly different amounts of protein, but mixed nuts will have around 20g of protein per 100g. Nuts can be eaten as a snack, in pesto or in salads, but we have a really interesting and delicious way to use nuts in your cooking by making a creamy cheesy cashew sauce!
Start by soaking 400g cashews in water overnight if possible. Drain the cashews and add to a blender with 300ml plant-based milk (we like oat), 2 cloves of garlic, a teaspoon of salt, teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 2-3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (depending on how cheesy you want it to be) and 1 teaspoon oregano. Blend all this really well in the blender until completely smooth. Nutritional yeast is a great ingredient that contains plenty of B12, which is sometimes lacking in vegan food. Certain vitamins aren’t found often in vegan foods, like vitamin D and B, so along make sure you are consuming things like vitamin D3 supplements to keep your body strong and healthy!
Cook your pasta based on the instructions on the back and drain. Mix your pasta in with the creamy cashew sauce and place in a baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and bake for around 20 minutes until golden brown. This is such a delicious recipe that is a real crowd pleaser!