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Plant Protein: 6 Vegetarian-Friendly, Protein-Packed Recipes

Everybody needs a little change now and then. Try going meatless for a couple meals by using these tasty veggie-protein recipes. You’ll get the nutrition you need and the variation you want!

We all know that protein is essential for muscle growth and fat loss, but you may not know that your protein doesn't always have to come from animal sources. Plants can be a great source of clean protein—you just have to know what kinds to buy. If you're tired of constantly firing up the grill for chicken breasts and turkey burgers, try something new!

Use these six protein-filled, plant-based recipes to add some new flavors and protein sources to your diet. They'll help fuel your transformation and keep you feeling healthy and energized!

1 / Quinoa Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads to bring to barbecues or to pot-luck parties. It also serves well for weekly meal planning! This dish isn't your average green side salad, but has a healthy dose of protein, complex carbs and good-for-you fats. Pair it with lean meat for a complete meal.

Ingredients
Optional Add-ins
Directions
  1. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup dry quinoa to a rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. In a separate small saucepan, boil frozen edamame in water for 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  4. Once quinoa and edamame are fully cooked, add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until all flavors are incorporated.
Nutrition Facts
(without add-ins)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Total Fat6g
Total Carbs16g
Protein7g
Quinoa Salad PDF (121 KB)

2 / Stacked Portabellas

This is a filling, hearty veggie dish! Even though there's no meat, you'll still need a knife and fork to dig into this meal.

Ingredients
  • 2 large Mushroom Portabella Caps rinsed clean and dried
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Tempeh
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
  • 2 tbsp shredded Almond Cheese or Fat-free Mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp each of Paprika, Cumin, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Turn on oven to high broil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tempeh to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until onion begins to soften.
  4. Add quinoa, spices, salt and pepper and saute a few more minutes.
  5. On a baking sheet, place portabello mushrooms brushed lightly with olive oil.
  6. Stack mushroom caps with spinach, quinoa mixture, sliced tomatoes, and shredded cheese.
  7. Broil for 5 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, serves 2
Amount per serving
Calories 324
Total Fat14.35g
Total Carbs34g
Protein18.25g
Stacked Portabellas PDF (121 KB)

3 / Mexican Style Protein Bowl

Give yourself a break from grilled meat and throw these ingredients together for an easy and tasty alternative to the usual. You'll get all the flavor of a Mexican-restaurant meal without the fried fat and unhealthy calories!

Ingredients
Optional Add-ins
Directions
  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts (with Greek Yogurt)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves one
Amount per serving
Calories 292
Total Fat9g
Total Carbs40g
Protein12g

4 / Tofu Bento

This is a great protein-packed meal I love to make for lunch during the week. I usually take whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, stir fry them with some lively spices, and add them to brown rice and tofu. Use whatever veggies you'd like—below are my usual ingredients.

Ingredients
  • 1 package extra firm Tofu
  • 2 cups cooked Brown Rice
  • 2 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp each of Ginger, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Chili Paste
  • 1 bunch Broccolini, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced Green Onion (optional)
  • Sriracha to top (optional)
Directions
  1. Remove tofu from package and press with paper towels to absorb all excess moisture.
  2. Chop tofu into cubes and place in large Ziploc bag.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Add broccolini and bell pepper and stir until lightly softened.
  5. Heat another pan to medium heat and add tofu.
  6. Cook tofu for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until all sides get cooked.
  7. To serve, add 1/2 cup of brown rice and top with tofu, veggies, and green onions.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 257
Total Fat8g
Total Carbs13g
Protein18g
Tofu Bento PDF (13.8 KB)

5 / Lentil Marinara Spaghetti Squash

When you're dieting for a competition, it's unlikely your nutrition plan allows for pasta. Don't be sad! This recipe tastes just as good as the real thing—just without all the simple carbs. You'll get some healthy, complex carbs from the lentils and extra veggie goodness from the spaghetti squash.

Ingredients
  • 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 can diced Tomatoes (look for low-sugar and low-sodium versions)
  • 1 cup cooked Lentils
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce squash with fork multiple times and bake for 60 min, or until outside is softened.
  3. In a large pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat.
  4. Add lentils, tomatoes, veggies and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. While sauce is cooking, scrape out spaghetti squash with fork onto plate.
  7. Top with about one cup of lentil marinara sauce.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 140
Total Fat16g
Total Carbs20.3g
Protein8g

6 / Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Many people love P.F. Chang's chicken lettuce wraps. I was inspired to create a cleaner, meat-free version at home! It is quick and tasty, and a great option for a low-carb dinner.

Ingredients
  • 1 package Tempeh, crumbled
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp of Ginger, Onion, and Garlic Powder
  • 1 head Butter-leaf Lettuce
Directions
  1. Heat olive and garlic in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, tempeh, and bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add soy sauce and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
Total Fat9.5g
Total Carbs12g
Protein13g
Tempeh Lettuce Wraps PDF (13.2 KB)


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About The Author

Jillian has been associated with Bodybuilding.com for the past four years and has found her passion in the fitness industry.

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Comments

Showing 1 - 25 of 38 Comments

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PDeV1

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PDeV1

Tofu is great.

Mar 6, 2013 6:44pm | report
PDeV1

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PDeV1

as this article !

Mar 6, 2013 6:44pm | report
Carlos1985

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Carlos1985

Very good

Mar 6, 2013 8:27pm | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 13'8"
  • wt: 164.34 lbs
  • bf: 16.9%
beautifulspirit

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beautifulspirit

The Mexican style protein bowl--yummilicous:)

Mar 6, 2013 8:37pm | report
TypicalFitness

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TypicalFitness

Gotta try those meals!!!

Mar 7, 2013 5:42am | report
northyorkboi

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northyorkboi

these are hardly high in protein I consider high to be 12grams and up

Mar 7, 2013 9:00am | report
kevinus99

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kevinus99

was thinking the same thing...not a single high protein meal was seen that day.

Mar 11, 2013 6:31pm | report
buildinmiabodi

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buildinmiabodi

the only recipes on here that are slightly low in protein are the quinoa salad and the lentil spaghetti squash....dont forget once u cook meat , u loose a significant amount of protein !

Apr 9, 2013 7:32pm | report
E90335i

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E90335i

*lose, and thats a myth.

May 28, 2013 9:10pm | report
Dazzling Danielle

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Dazzling Danielle

These look delicious!! Thanks for the vegetarian option with these recipes! I hope we start seeing more like this! :)

Mar 7, 2013 9:29am | report
lapetite1

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lapetite1

Definitely going to try the mushrooms!

Mar 7, 2013 9:55am | report
synkestrel

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synkestrel

dont heat the olive oil for these dishes, it is unnecessary and damages the oil.

Mar 7, 2013 10:41am | report
ranaqasim

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ranaqasim

Interesting meals... must try

Mar 7, 2013 12:39pm | report
  • Body Stats
  • ht: 14'6"
  • wt: 174.16 lbs
  • bf: 10.5%
fitnessjewell

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fitnessjewell

Love these! What delicious and creative ideas! I'll definitely be trying them all out in my kitchen plus sharing with all of my clients!!! Keep 'em coming, Jillian! :)

Mar 7, 2013 4:29pm | report
citychic6

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citychic6

As a Vegan thanks for sharing this article of meatless options.

Article Rated:
Mar 7, 2013 10:37pm | report
Gxp23

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Gxp23

Quinoa is still on my to try list.

Mar 8, 2013 12:33am | report
phish2000

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phish2000

And it should be...one of the most diverse complete proteins today. As a vegetarian for 7 years now and a adventurous cook, i can eat quinoa 7 days a week, prepared 7 different ways.

Jan 6, 2014 7:57am | report
Siva19

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Siva19

all these is not available in my country

Mar 8, 2013 4:04am | report
Siva19

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Siva19

india

Mar 8, 2013 4:04am | report
davidwhoa

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davidwhoa

That quinoa salad is going down, post-run, tonight.

Mar 8, 2013 10:21am | report
McApplejuice

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McApplejuice

Mexican meal looks easy enough!

Mar 8, 2013 4:02pm | report
osama2707

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osama2707

amazing meals but i have better than it and very easy

Mar 9, 2013 6:12am | report
JackJammer

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JackJammer

hey awesome Jillian!!! Thanks a lot!!! <3

Mar 9, 2013 2:54pm | report
Patterson11

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Patterson11

Looks good!

Mar 9, 2013 11:26pm | report
tgabtg

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tgabtg

Those look great. I'll have to try them when I'm done juicing.

Mar 11, 2013 5:00pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 38 Comments

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