Plant Based Protein Made Easy

by Laura Gale

Don’t just take out the meat! 5 ways to include vegetarian protein in your diet.

For the last couple of years, ‘meat-free Monday’, or ‘plant-based eating’ has been an increasing trend, and it’s a trend that I love. Eating less meat encourages more variety in our diets, increased vegetable consumption, and has the potential to increase the nutritional profile of a meal by increasing fibre, vitamins and nutrients and reducing saturated fat.  But there is a caveat (as far as I’m concerned): you need to replace the meat component of your meal with a vegetarian protein source.  Below are a few simple ways to make sure you can have your meat-free Monday and still consume a balanced, satisfying, and nutritious meal.

  1. Blend a tin of beans into pasta sauce or soup.

I love doing this as a way to increase the protein content of a sauce or soup that would otherwise just be vegetable-based.

  • For a soup that you intend to blend: add a rinsed and drained cup of red lentils when you add your stock. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender (you might need a little bit more water that usual).  Another option is to add a tin of kidney or cannellini beans toward the end of cooking, before blending.
  • A quick pasta sauce: Preheat your oven to 200C and toss 1-2 punnets of cherry tomatoes, 1 red onion (peeled and quartered), and 2 garlic cloves (peeled) with 2 tbs olive oil and 1 tbs red wine vinegar. Once everything is looking nice and roasted, tip it all into a blender with a rinsed and drained tin of cannellini beans and blend to your desired consistency.  Stir through cooked pasta and top with some freshly grated parmesan.
  1. Batch-cook and freeze lentils.

Puy lentils (also known as French lentils) and green lentils (might also be called brown lentils) take less than half an hour to cook, but that might still be too long when you’re just throwing together a quick salad or a ‘meat-and-three-veg-without-the-meat’ meal.  The good news is that they freeze very well so the next time you’ve got some down time, throw them into a pot of salted water at a ratio of about 1-part lentils to 3-parts water and simmer until tender.  Allow to cool, separate into portions and freeze. When you need them as part of your meal, bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the frozen lentils.  Much cheaper than buying cans, not to mention better for the environment.

  1. Blend silken tofu into your smoothie.

It might feel like a bit of a stretch but trust me on this one.  Next time you’re making a creamy smoothie (i.e. probably not into a greens-based smoothie), add in some silken tofu, approx. 150g per serve.  It’ll boost the protein content and make your smoothie even creamier without dramatically changing the taste.

  1. Try a veggie pattie in your next burger.

There are plenty of great options in the vegetarian section of the supermarket fridge these days, but you can also easily make your own lentil- or tofu-based burger. Veggie burgers are way higher in fibre, lower in saturated fat and equally as flavourful as your old-faithful meat burger.

  1. Try marinated tofu in your next stir fry.

At least 15 minutes prior to cooking your stir fry (but even as early as 24 hours before), prep your tofu (preferably ‘firm tofu’ for stir fry) by pressing it between some sheets of absorbent paper or a clean tea towel, cut it into bite-size pieces and toss it in the following marinade: 4 tbs soy sauce, 3 tbs rice wine vinegar, 1 tbs maple syrup, 1 tsp sesame oil, 1-2 minced garlic cloves and 1 tbs fresh, grated ginger.  As you would with any other protein, stir fry it first and remove prior to adding to veggies.  Once the veggies are just about done, add back the cooked tofu and any left-over marinade to form part of your sauce.

Increasing the frequency with which you include vegetarian meals in your diet can have great benefits for your health.  Meat-free meals tend to be higher in fibre, richer in vitamins and nutrients and lower in saturated fat.  By using the above tips, make sure that your vegetarian or plant-based meal still contains plenty of protein to keep you full and satisfied for longer.


For further information or to book a consultation with Laura contact the clinic on 035977 0117 or visit the website to book online.