WIAW: Protein-Packed, Plant Style

Any current or former vegetarians and vegans out there know this question all too well: “So where do you get your protein?” To most omnis, protein is only found in meat, eggs and dairy products. But as we all know, protein is found in pretty much everything, from kale to cacao nibs. Yes, there are actually 3 grams of protein in a one ounce serving of cacao nibs, which is all the more reason to enjoy chocolate ūüėČ Anyways, the point is, even strict vegans don’t need to worry much about adequate protein consumption as long as they’re consuming enough calories as well. However, I do love a lot of plant-based protein sources–I love me some healthy carbs, but I can’t survive on those alone. Last year, when I was just starting out on my vegan journey, I gravitated more towards carbs, which is okay, but nowadays I have a much better balance of fats, protein and carbs and I feel a lot more energized. If I had to categorize my macros, I’d say I’m usually around 45% carbs, 20-25% protein and 30-35% fats. That’s a big change, especially in the fats department, but I’m definitely embracing protein a lot more today too.

That being said, here are Monday’s protein-packed, plant-based eats. Note: I am a big fan of plant protein powders (not soy-based ones, but ones made from sprouted quinoa/rice, pea and cranberry proteins, like Vega and Sunwarrior) and I use them frequently, but I don’t think they’re a necessity in a plant-based diet. I use them (along with peanut flour, which isn’t really a protein powder but just concentrated peanut protein that tastes AMAZING) because I like how they taste and that they give me a protein boost for relatively fewer calories. Yes, I will admit that I still have a fear of eating ‘enough’, mostly because I don’t know what ‘enough’ is for me and it’s scary to change our habits. I do like whole food sources of protein, but protein powders are fun and tasty and I always choose the less processed versions.

Breakfast: banana bread in a bowl. Garden of Life RAW chocolate protein powder, half of a mashed banana, almond milk, mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips, topped with Maranatha maple almond butter.

Lately, I’ve been obsessed with banana bread. I’ve been fulfilling that craving with making my protein microwave cakes with a banana mashed in and adding chocolate chips. Maybe you won’t believe me, but this legit reminds me of banana bread. The best part is the gooey banana and chocolate, and the melty nut butter on top. Swoooon…

Protein: 19 grams

Lunch: pumpkin curry socca pizza topped with kale and red cabbage, side of black grapes and Chocolove peppermint dark chocolate square.

Socca is a great way to have pizza while still getting in some great protein. I love loading up my pizzas with veggies, and since I don’t eat cheese, most traditional pizzas don’t have much in the way of protein. But socca does, and I love it! Today’s version had a pumpkin curry sauce (made by mixing pumpkin puree and a premade coconut curry sauce) and was topped with sauteed kale and crunchy red cabbage. Perfect combo!

Protein: 8 grams

Afternoon snack: peanut and buckwheat flour waffle, topped with maple almond butter and vegan chocolate mousse.

You guys already know I have an insane obsession with homemade waffles. I love everything about them–the toppings, the texture, the endless flavor options, the flour choices. This one was made with a mix of (mostly) peanut flour and a little buckwheat flour and then topped with my new favorite almond butter and some mousse from the Whole Foods dessert section (it has a really great ingredients list of just dark chocolate, tofu and maple syrup). I added in a bit of banana and some more chocolate chips into the batter and it was just too good.

Protein: 14 grams

Dinner: pineapple fried quinoa, with edamame and (unpictured) Kaia raw sprouted “party mix” pumpkin seeds, unpictured side of kabocha squash dipped in organic ketchup.

Guys, this may be my new favorite dinner (other than waffles). I made it for the first time around my birthday¬†back in July and made it a few times shortly after, but then forgot about it as I was moving into my apartment and starting school again. I randomly decided I wanted to make it again and I am so glad I rediscovered it. It is really so simple, but tastes crazy good. The best part is, it’s packed with protein from whole foods sources–edamame, quinoa and pumpkin seeds.

Protein: 11 grams

Dessert: PB Puffins mixed with peanut flour, almond milk, raisins and mini chocolate chips, unpictured side of peppermint dark chocolate square and Hail Merry raw maple vanilla almonds.

I don’t have cereal as much anymore, but I still have a soft spot for PB Puffins. They’re just so…addictingly good. Now when I have cereal, I like to add in some protein powder or peanut flour in with the almond milk to make it more substantial. This particular bowl was very peanutty, but good, even for a girl who hates peanut butter (but loves peanut otherwise).

Protein: 11 grams

The total protein count for the day was 63 grams! I know that doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s right in line (actually a little higher) than Fitsugar’s chart¬†on protein needs based on weight and activity levels. And for me, it’s about double the protein that I was eating a year ago so I consider that a major success! And it just goes to show that vegans can get enough protein, without having to eat a ton of soy (I only had half a serving on Monday) or even a lot of supplements (I only used one full scoop of protein powder the entire day).

Do you ever track your protein consumption? What’s your favorite plant-based protein source?¬†

There’s Kale in My Pesto and Coffee in My Banana Bread (Recipes!)

Long time, no recipe post, huh? Sure, I’ve been including recipes here and there in my posts lately, but sometimes it’s nice to devote an entire post to them. I haven’t had one of these since June 10th–almost a month, yikes! But I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen and it’s paid off with two recipes I think you might love.

First up, something you might want to whip up as a quick dinner. Usually when I have pasta, I use some kind of red sauce or sometimes my spicy nacho cheez sauce¬†for a vegan take on mac ‘n cheese. I rarely even think about pesto, the popular green cousin of tomato sauce. But when I saw a recipe for pumpkin seed pesto on the Whole Foods website, I knew I had to make some for myself…with some changes, of course, to make it my own recipe.

Cheezy pumpkin seed kale pesto over quinoa pasta and Rising Moon artichoke and olive ravioli, watermelon slices.

Cheezy Pumpkin Seed Kale Pesto (vegan, gluten free)

1/2 cup hulled (green) pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup water

1/2 tbsp olive oil

lemon juice, to taste

two handfuls kale, roughly chopped

nooch, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until combined and creamy. Add more nooch if desired, and serve over pasta, veggies or quinoa. Makes about 1 cup.

The pesto paired perfectly with chilled quinoa pasta and soy ricotta ravioli but I also want to try it as a sandwich spread! It’s more nutritious than the typical pesto, because it’s cheese-free (but uses nooch to get that cheezy taste) and uses kale which is packed with Vitamins A & C and has some calcium and fiber. And the pumpkin seeds add an interesting taste and creamy texture to the sauce!

And what’s dinner without some dessert afterwards? I usually space my dinner and nighttime snack so there’s about 2 hours in between, just enough time to digest and work up some hunger for dessert! I haven’t baked something in pretty much forever (probably close to two months) so it was definitely time. I made banana bread for the second time ever–the first time was about 3 years ago. I like banana bread, but I just rarely think to make it. But I didn’t want to just make plain ‘ol banana bread, no, I had to try incorporating some unusual ingredients. It turned out great and even better than normal banana bread.

Nothin’ better than warm banana bread crumbled in almond milk topped with almond peanut cashew butter and mini chocolate chips!

Mocha Chip Banana Bread (vegan)

3/4 cup oat flour (can sub whole wheat, or gluten free flour)

3/4 cup oats [adds some texture]

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

5 squares dark chocolate with coffee pieces, chopped (can use normal dark chocolate, or chocolate chips)

1/4 cup cold coffee (I made mine with 1/3 packet Starbucks VIA instant mocha powder and 1/4 cup water)

2 ripe bananas

2 tbsp maple syrup or agave

1/2 tbsp chia or flax seed, for “egg”

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together flour, oats, baking powder, salt and chocolate until combined. In a blender or food processor, blend the coffee, bananas and maple syrup until smooth and mixed thoroughly. Pour wet mixture into dry and add in chia or flax egg. Pour batter into baking dish sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Makes 8 slices.

Mine didn’t rise a lot (stupid high altitude baking!) but it was still tasty and very dense. It’s a lot healthier than the typical banana bread and isn’t quite as sweet but for around 110 calories per slice, it makes the perfect snack crumbled in almond milk or spread with almond butter. And I love the slight coffee taste it has! Next time I would add even more coffee to it. Oh, and my junk food-loving little sister loved it, so that’s saying a lot!

This recipe is being submitted for this week’s (September 7) Healthy Vegan Friday.¬†

What’s your favorite kind of bread to eat? Do you like red sauce, white sauce or pesto?

WIAW: What I Want to Make Over Spring Break

Another week, another WIAW! I gotta tell you guys, I am hooked on these weekly WIAW parties. I’ve been doing them every week since June of last year (except for a couple of times) and I love seeing what all of you who participate in WIAW have been up to, eating-wise.

This week’s edition won’t be what I’ve been eating this week, because let’s be honest, it hasn’t been too interesting–just finishing up a lot of stuff before spring break rolls around. But I want to share some of the recipes I’m planning on making next week when I’m home for break. I’ve been dying to get back into the kitchen and get my chef on so I’ve got a lot of recipes I want to try out.

Seitan Makhani (Vegan “Butter Chicken”)

From AllRecipes.com

I remember when I was a lot younger, my family went out to eat at an Indian restaurant in our city quite often–I was introduced to spicy foods and different cuisines at a young age, which is why I¬†love¬†them today! Anyways, my sister and I would usually split an order of butter chicken, along with some onion bahji and fresh-baked naan and it was super delicious. Being vegan and a lot more health-conscious now, of course I don’t eat butter or chicken but this veganized recipe sounds really amazing and pretty healthy. I’ve never cooked (or eaten) seitan before but I definitely want to experiment with it.

Raw Key Lime Cashew Cheezecake

Photo from Evolving Wellness

I don’t have a specific recipe in mind for this, I just want to make my own based off other raw cheezecakes. After a failed raw key lime pie experiment in January, I really want to make a key lime flavored cashew cheezecake, since key lime is perfect for spring and I’ve been wanting to make a cashew cheezecake for a while.

More kale chips

Photo from thehealthyeatingsite.com

After my first homemade batch a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been craving these yummy green chips like no other! Again, I don’t have a specific recipe in mind but I want to try a sweet and spicy batch and maybe a batch coated in vegan ranch dressing…

Carrot Cake Pancakes

From wholefoodsmarket.com

Whole Foods always has the most drool-worthy recipes and photos, and when I saw these little gems, I knew I had to try them out. I love carrot cake in overnight oat form, so why not in pancakes? I’ll have to change a few things around to make them vegan, but they look simple enough and they’ve got tons of yummy things in them, like pineapple, raisins and pecans.

Orange Poppyseed Muffins

Photo from shine.yahoo.com

For some odd reason, I have been thinking about lemon poppyseed muffins lately! But why not a twist on the traditional–vegan orange poppyseed muffins? Fresh citrus flavors are really appealing to me since spring is just around the corner so this sounds perfect!

BBQ Tofu Pizza

Photo from foodbuzz.com

I still have yet to experiment with tofu, so what better place to start than on a pizza? I’m planning on marinating some extra firm tofu in a natural barbecue¬†sauce and topping a brown rice tortilla (best pizza base, in my opinion) with some red onions, red cabbage and possibly fresh pineapple. Though really, any kind of homemade pizza would be delicious!

Peanut Flour Banana Bread

Photo from thedailygarnish.com

I actually want to create my own recipe for this, using some kind of mix of peanut flour, oat flour, vegan chocolate chips and bananas (duh). I don’t know how it’ll turn out, but the flavor combo just sounds awesome.

Carrot Mango Smoothie

Photo from wholeliving.com

Not so much a recipe as an idea–I have no idea why I thought of this, but it just sounds really refreshing. I know a lot of people make Green Monsters…this will be an Orange Monster!

I may not get around to making all of these recipes, and I might try out other ones, but these are just my ideas as of right now! I’m getting excited (and hungry!) just thinking about them.

Pink cardigan (on arm, Abercrombie & Fitch), green floral dress (Hollister), pink crystal necklace (American Eagle)

Oh, and on an unrelated note, this is what I wore today! It has been almost 70 degrees here the past two days, and I couldn’t be happier that it feels like spring…even though snow is in the forecast for later in the week. Booooooo! My dress isn’t actually that bright of a green, it’s more of a sea foam green but I always have to color correct my photos because of the bad lighting in my room so things turn out weird colors. Also, don’t ask why my cardigan is hanging off one arm–I was trying out different poses, okay? You can check out more photos on my fashion blog!

What recipe looks the best to you? Have you ever “veganized” a recipe?