Vegetarian Protein Sources

Whether you’re going veggie round-the-clock or want to swap some meaty meals for vegetarian ones (a smart choice for your health), choose one of these 10 vegetarian protein choices to satisfy you.
Related To:

Photo By: Alina Solovyova-Vincent

Photo By: Meliha Gojak

Photo By: Marek Uliasz

Photo By: Stephanie Frey ©2009 Stephanie Frey

Photo By: Lusoimages

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Photo By: Image Source ©Image Source

Photo By: Frans Rombout

Photo By: Sheridan Stancliff ©(c) Sheridan Stancliff

Photo By: Matt Armendariz ©Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Edamame

These pale green soybeans, encased in fuzzy pods, are protein powerhouses that deliver 17 grams per cup. Keep them in your freezer for an easy-to-prepare snack. Just cook them according to directions and sprinkle them with a touch of salt. Or add shelled edamame to a veggie stir-fry or blend it up into a dip with this hummus recipe.

Peanut Butter

Two tablespoons of peanut butter give you 8 grams of protein. Look for natural peanut butter to avoid added sugars and partially hydrogenated oils. And it doesn’t matter whether you choose chunky or smooth — both have the same nutritional profile. Try a tablespoon of peanut butter on a banana or celery stalk for a snack with staying power.

Quinoa

Quinoa has become a wildly popular whole grain, in part because it has a bit more protein than many other grains. One cup of cooked quinoa gives you 8 grams of "complete" protein, meaning it has all of the essential amino acids packaged together. Try it in this Chicken and Quinoa Soup from Food Network Magazine.

Low-Fat Cottage Cheese

One cup of low-fat cottage cheese has 28 whopping grams of protein — half the amount many people need in a day! Cottage cheese can be quite high in sodium, so look for low-sodium varieties. Top it with berries and sliced almonds for a healthy breakfast or snack.

Beans

Canned beans are a quick and easy protein source, delivering 8 grams in just a 1/2 cup. Beans are also a good source of iron, another nutrient that you need to make an extra effort to get if you’re not eating meat. Tuck them into a quesadilla or add to a soup or pasta dish for an easy protein boost.

Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Ultra-thick Greek yogurt has even more protein than regular yogurt (23 grams per cup, compared to 13 grams). Top plain yogurt with a spoonful of honey, fresh sliced fruit and nuts. Try making your own Greek yogurt at home with this recipe.

Eggs

Just 1 large egg gives you 6 grams of protein. Most of that comes from the white, so if you want to boost the amount of protein in your scrambled eggs without adding a lot of extra calories and saturated fat, add an extra egg white or two to a whole egg.

Tempeh

This nutty-flavored, nubbly-textured vegan ingredient has 15 grams of protein per 1/2 cup. It’s made from fermented soybeans, making it a slightly more nutritious alternative to tofu (it has more fiber and vitamins). Tempeh takes particularly well to a moist heat preparation, such as braising.

Seitan

Often used in Asian cuisines as a meat replacement (you may have seen it on menus as mock duck or mock chicken), seitan has a chewy texture. It’s pure gluten — the protein component of wheat — so if you’re allergic or sensitive to gluten, this is not the choice for you. With 21 grams of protein per 1/3 cup, however, this is a protein-dense meat alternative that also delivers some iron.

Tofu

Probably the best-known vegetarian protein, tofu is a versatile ingredient. Its mild flavor adapts well to a variety of seasonings and it comes in several different textures, from soft and creamy to sturdy and firm. Plus, it’s packed with protein: a 1/2 cup of tofu has 20 grams. Try silken tofu in this Dark Chocolate Mousse or 2 Alarm Tofu Dip or grill firm tofu in Bobby Flay's Barbequed Tofu recipe.

Next Up

Healthy Microwave Cooking

We’re not talking about zapping frozen entrees. How about real ingredients and healthy meals straight out of the microwave oven!?