Getting enough protein can be challenging for vegetarians. If you lack fantasy and can’t find the proper recipe, we are here to help. Check out our vegetarian breakfasts, lunches, and dinners stuffed with protein!
Protein is essential for your body, it is necessary to build muscle1Stokes T., Hector A. J., Morton R. W., et al. (2018, February). Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients. DOI:10.3390/nu10020180, it makes your hair, skin, and nails look better, and it is vital for your overall health.
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If you think that a vegetarian diet automatically means a lack of protein, we’re here to disappoint you. You can still eat high-protein meals even if your primary source of energy are plants.
We understand that not all vegetarians eat the same food, so in this article, we’ve gathered recipes for pescetarians (they eat fish and seafood), lacto-vegetarians (they eat dairy), ovo-vegetarians (they eat eggs), and vegans.
According to one study2Leidy H. J., Hoertel H. A., Douglas S. M., et al. (2015, September). A High-protein Breakfast Prevents Body Fat Gain, through Reductions in Daily Intake and Hunger, in "Breakfast Skipping" Adolescents. Obesity (Silver Spring). DOI:10.1002/oby.21185, people who eat a high-protein breakfast (about 35 g of protein) weigh less, control their hunger better, and consume fewer calories during the day. Here is our list of tasty breakfasts for a bright morning!
You see polenta, and you immediately think of Italy! You will need 50 g of cornmeal and 200 g of plant milk for this Italian breakfast. Mix them in a pan and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. While the porridge is boiling, dice any kind of sweet fruits, like an apple and an orange, and put them in a heated pan with a teaspoon of cooking oil in it.
Add cinnamon to your fruits, stir them, and leave to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes. When your porridge is ready, add a scoop of vegan protein powder to it and stir well.
Mix your porridge with fruits, a teaspoon of maple syrup if you lack sweetness, and serve. You can add coconut flakes, mint leaves, fresh berries, low-calorie syrup, or anything you like on top.
This breakfast (with no toppings) will add 500 calories and 23 grams of protein to your day.
(Contains dairy and honey)
This breakfast is best to be cooked in the evening. Mix 50 g of oatmeal, 120 g of low-fat yogurt, and half a scoop of your favorite protein powder in a jar. If it looks too sticky, add some water.
To make your oatmeal more satiating, satisfying, and protein-dense, add a teaspoon of peanut butter, a teaspoon of honey, and some chia seeds. Mix it well and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, cut banana into your jar (or any other fruit), add some cinnamon, and enjoy your breakfast!
You will get a 500-calorie breakfast with 30 g of protein with this quantity of ingredients.
If you prefer salty breakfasts, you should try this on! It will take you some time, as you will have to boil pearl barley (it takes about 30 minutes), but the new taste is worth it!
While barley is being cooked, cut 150 g of smoked tofu to pieces, peel and chop vegetables you like the most. As a rule, onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and mushrooms taste good with tofu and porridge.
Preheat the pan, add one teaspoon of cooking oil, put onions inside, wait until your onions are tender, and add other vegetables and tofu. Simmer over low heat while covered for about 10 minutes. You can add soya sauce, lemon juice, black pepper, and other spices you like.
When the barley is tender, add it to the pan with tofu and vegetables, stir well, and add some salt to taste. You can also garnish your breakfast with parsley, dill, scallions, or other herbs you like to make it even brighter!
If you follow the recipe, you will get a 410-calorie savory breakfast with 25 g of protein in one plate.
Whole grains are a must-have for vegans and vegetarians. They contain tons of protein, keep you full for longer, and don’t spike your insulin as much as overly-refined cereals.
You will need 50 g of bulgur (or any other grains to your preference). Rince it well, put it into the pan, and pour 200 g of plant milk (no sugar added). Chop 2-3 dried apricots, take a tablespoon of raisins, and add them to the pan.
Bring your porridge to a boil and cook it over low heat for 20 minutes while stirring. When it’s almost done, add a teaspoon of coconut oil, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt.
You can add some agave syrup, sprinkle the porridge with almond flakes, add some berries, or garnish your meal with mint leaves.
This quantity of ingredients will result in a 430-calorie breakfast with 15 g of protein.
If you prefer toasts for breakfasts, here is a high-protein vegan option.
You will need two slices of Ezekiel bread (or any other healthy bread you prefer). When your toasts are ready, spread two tablespoons of hummus on them, put 80 g of thinly sliced tofu and a quarter of sliced avocado on top.
Don’t forget to season your toasts with your favorite spices and take a bite!
These vegan toasts are about 410 calories and 20 g of high-quality protein.
This version of previous vegan toasts is enriched with vegetables. You will like it if you need a boost of freshness in the morning.
Toast two slices of your favorite healthy bread as in the previous recipe and add two tablespoons of hummus to each piece. After that, add 100 g of tofu to make this meal higher in protein and top it with thinly sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, and sun-dried tomatoes (you can add some garlic if you don’t have important meetings later on the day). Top your juicy toast with iceberg lettuce leaves and enjoy it.
Tip: Don’t forget to remove excess oil from dried tomatoes to make your meal less calorie-dense.
This breakfast will fill you up for a long time. It’s about 600 calories and will add 30 g of protein to your day.
(Contains dairy and eggs)
Pancakes are a perfect breakfast for a Sunday morning when you have some time for cooking and enjoying your sweet breakfast.
For these high-protein pancakes, you will need 60 grams of oat flour (choose coconut flour to add more protein and fats to your breakfast, opt for whole wheat flour if you prefer a traditional taste, or combine several types of flour you like). Add baking powder, soda, and salt to your flour mix.
In another bowl, mix 150 ml of skim milk, apple cider vinegar (half a teaspoon), 70 ml of egg whites, and two teaspoons of cooking oil.
Mix the two bowls, and meanwhile, preheat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray a tiny bit of cooking oil for your first pancake and pour in a small amount of batter, about 2 tablespoons per pancake.
When all your pancakes are ready, put them on a plate and garnish them with a sauce of 130 ml low-fat yogurt, a tablespoon of maple syrup, and cinnamon. You can also add berries on top.
These ingredients will make you a 480-calorie breakfast with 27 g of protein.
We understand that most people are always in a hurry and don’t have much time for cooking. Tell you what: Make at least two portions of these lunches at a time so that you have to cook only every other day. To do so, just double the ingredients we’re listing.
Here, we’ve added two recipes for pescetarians. If it’s not what you were looking for, just skip two first recipes and dive into our vegan options!
(Contains seafood and dairy)
For this dish, chop one onion and 5-6 mushrooms, peel 100 g of shrimps, and put them into the preheated pan with two teaspoons of whole butter for 5 minutes. Add 60 g of risotto rice to the pan and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water to the pan (it should cover the contents of the pan by 1 cm) and simmer over low heat while stirring.
When half of the water evaporates, add saffron and salt to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. When the rice is tender, put risotto to your plate and sprinkle it with 20 g of grated Parmesan cheese.
This mouthwatering savory deliciousness is only 500 calories and contains 35 g of protein.
(Contains seafood and dairy)
Another variation of a high-protein lunch for people who eat fish is a pureed soup with trout (you can take any other white fish you like).
Peel and coarsely chop 200 g of potatoes and 150 g of cauliflower. Put them in a saucepan, add 100 g of fish fillet, cover the content with water and cook all together for 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and spice to taste.
When vegetables are tender, remove the fish from the soup, pour the broth in another bowl, pour two tablespoons of regular cream over the vegetables, and process them with a blender. Add some broth to the vegetables if you like more liquid puree soup.
Return the fish to the soup, garnish it with chopped dill or other herbs you like. You can also add a tablespoon of grated parmesan on top to make your meal more savory.
These ingredients will help you cook a 470-calorie lunch with 30 g of protein.
Okay, let’s be honest: No one makes one portion of soup! For this recipe, we’ve multiplied all the ingredients by four, so you can share your meal with the family or have several ready-to-eat lunches for the week.
Soak 120 g of lentils in cold water for at least 10 minutes, drain the water, put lentils in a saucepan, add 800 ml of water, and cook for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop one medium onion into small cubes, cut 280 g of tofu and grate one large carrot.
Add onion to a preheated frying pan with two teaspoons of olive oil, fry for 3 minutes, then add tofu and carrots, and season with salt, pepper, and turmeric to taste.
Cut two large potatoes into small cubes, and when your lentils are almost soft, add potatoes to the saucepan and cook for another 10 minutes. When lentils and potatoes are soft, add fried onions, tofu, and carrots to the soup and cook for another 5 minutes.
Feel free to garnish your soup with cilantro, dill, scallions, basil, or any other herbs you like.
The four-portion bunch of ingredients is about 1200 calories and 80 g of protein. Per serving, you will get 300 calories and 20 g of protein.
For lovers of Oriental cuisine, we have an amazing stir fry recipe. Start with marinating 150 g of tofu in a teaspoon of honey, several tablespoons of soy sauce, and sesame seeds (you can also add crushed garlic, ginger, chili peppers, or lemongrass to make your meal richer in flavors).
Meanwhile, cook 40 g of noodles according to the packaging instructions and prepare your vegetables. Cut three footstalks of asparagus, a small onion, and half a bell pepper into strips.
Put a teaspoon of sesame oil into the preheated pan. Put your tofu with marinade into the pan, and in 2 minutes, add your vegetables. Simmer vegetables with the tofu for about 5 minutes, and then add cooked noodles into the pan. Constantly stir your stir-fry mix and in 2-3 minutes, take it off the heat. You can sprinkle your meal with cilantro, scallions, and sesame seeds.
These ingredients are 525 calories and contain 30 g of protein.
Soak 50 g of soy meat in water for at least 10 minutes. Then drain the water and dice the meat into small cubes. Preheat a pan with one teaspoon of olive oil and fry soy meat for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, dice half a bell pepper and 50 g of zucchini into cubes. Add vegetables and 40 g of corn (unfrozen or canned) to the frying pan of soy meat and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes.
After that, add 40 g of amaranth to the pan, fill it with 120 ml of water, and simmer over low heat for 8-10 minutes. When the amaranth has absorbed the water, add salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy your meal.
This is quite a low-calorie recipe that adds 320 calories to your day. With this meal, you will get 23 g of protein.
It’s a salad, but it’s highly satiating due to the various kinds of fats it contains. Ready to start cooking?
You will need to cook 60 g of spaghetti according to the instructions on the packaging. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C / 392°F and cut 100 g of asparagus and 130 g of tofu into pieces.
Chop 15 g of cashew nuts with a knife. Place the asparagus, nuts, and tofu in a baking dish. Brush with oil, add salt and spices to taste, mix, and cook for 20 minutes.
While the tofu is baking, slice a quarter of avocado and tear a handful of spinach with your hands. Combine spaghetti, asparagus, tofu, spinach, and avocado in a deep bowl and season with salt, pepper, one teaspoon of olive oil, lime juice, and soy sauce to taste.
This highly-voluminous meal is about 660 calories and contains 33 g of protein.
Soak 50 g of soy meat in water for at least 10 minutes. After that, drain the water and dice the meat into small cubes.
Rinse 50 g of quinoa under running water, put into a small saucepan, and cover it with 120 ml of boiling water. Put the saucepan on the stove and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat a pan, put a teaspoon of coconut oil in it, and fry soy meat over medium heat for 7 minutes. Dice one small carrot, one small onion, and a half bell pepper. You can also add a chili pepper if you like it hot. Place all vegetables in the pan with the soy meat and fry for about 3 minutes. Pour two teaspoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of orange juice into the pan and stir. Cook for another 3-4 minutes under a closed lid.
Add quinoa to the pan with soy meat and vegetables, stir well, and put the mix into your plate. And again, don’t hesitate to add your favorite herbs and spices on top.
These ingredients are about 380 calories, and they will add 24 g of protein to your meal.
Some studies show that your dinner timing affects your overall calorie intake; according to one paper3Reid K. J., Baron K. G., Zee P. C. (2014, November). Meal Timing Influences Daily Caloric Intake in Healthy Adults. Nutrition Research. DOI:10.1016/j.nutres.2014.09.010 in Nutrition Research, “eating a later last meal and eating closer to sleep onset - were associated with greater caloric intake.”
What does it mean? Try to eat your dinner no later than a couple of hours before you go to bed. Hope these ideas will help you out when you don’t know what to cook.
Wild rice has a lower glycemic index than the average white rice, and it is richer in fiber and vitamins. But it takes more time to cook and it’s not to everyone’s liking. To cook wild rice, you will have to soak it in cold water for at least 30 minutes to soften it.
After soaking, rinse the rice (50 g) under running water, place it in a saucepan with cold water, and cook for about 20-25 minutes after bringing it to a boil.
Meanwhile, place one fish fillet (half a fish) on foil (pre-grease it with a drop of vegetable oil), sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, or other dried herbs, wrap tightly, and put it in the preheated oven (180°C / 356°F) for 20-25 minutes.
At this time, grate one medium beetroot and one medium carrot. Place vegetables in a preheated pan with a teaspoon of olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, stir and cook over medium heat with the lid on for about 10 minutes. When the rice is ready, add it to the vegetables, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Sprinkle mackerel with lemon juice and serve it on the same plate with rice and vegetables.
This meal is about 430 calories and contains 24 g of protein.
(Contains fish, eggs, and dairy)
That’s true comfort food for cold winter or windy spring evenings. It fills you up, it’s enormously tasty, and it’s pretty easy to cook!
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F. Rinse 50 g of rice, place it in a saucepan with cold water, and boil until half-cooked. Meanwhile, divide 100 g of broccoli into florets and cook it in boiling salted water for about 3-5 minutes.
Grease a baking dish with a teaspoon of whole butter, place the half-cooked rice on the bottom, and flatten it. Top with 100 g of diced salmon fillets. Place broccoli florets in between the salmon.
Now, prepare the filling. Lightly beat a medium egg, add two tablespoons of low-fat cream, a tablespoon of low-fat sour cream, and 25 g of grated Cheddar cheese. Season with salt, pepper, oregano, or other dried herbs to taste and mix well.
Pour the filling over the casserole. Bake it in a preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Done!
This magnificent casserole is 600 calories and it contains a massive 40 g of protein.
(Contains seafood, eggs, and dairy)
If it’s a Friday night and you’re craving a slice of pizza, check out our low-calorie vegetarian option!
The main point of this pizza is that instead of flour and yeast, you use cauliflower. So, to make a healthy pizza, you will need to boil 150 g of cauliflower and puree it using a blender. Preheat the oven to 180°C / 356°F and start grating 50 g of mozzarella.
Combine two-thirds of the mozzarella with cauliflower and one medium egg, salt to taste, and mix well. Put the mass on a baking dish covered with parchment and place it in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. After baking, brush the pizza base with a teaspoon of tomato paste and add salt and pepper to taste.
Place 100 g of peeled shrimps on top, spread thinly chop mushrooms, peppers, and onions next to the shrimp, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and oregano. Put your pizza in the oven for another 10 minutes and enjoy your dinner!
This pizza is about 415 calories and almost 40 g of protein.
(Contains seafood, eggs, and dairy)
Stuffed zucchini is a low-calorie dinner for those who want to lose weight. Cut a medium zucchini into two parts, cut out the pulp and grate it. Finely chop one medium tomato, 2-3 mushrooms, beat one medium egg to the vegetables, add the grated zucchini pulp, marjoram, and other spices to taste and stir. Then add 60 g of mussel meat.
Cover the baking sheet with parchment. Place the zucchini boats on the parchment and fill them with the filling. Place your meal in the preheated oven (180°C / 356°F) for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before zucchinis are ready, sprinkle them with two tablespoons of grated mozzarella and let the cheese melt for another 5 minutes.
Two zucchini boats with such filling will contain about 250 calories and 21 g of protein.
Want to surprise your friends with something fancy? Try out these green tofu balls!
Mash 150 g of tofu with a fork. Puree a quarter of avocado and a handful of spinach with a blender and mix them with tofu. Add finely chopped greens (cilantro, basil, scallions, dill, whatever else you like) and 30 g of flour, salt, and pepper to taste; mix well.
Form small balls and fry them in a preheated pan, sprayed with cooking oil. Serve tofu balls with fresh vegetables (lettuce leaves, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber).
These ingredients will add 330 calories and 16 g of protein to your food diary.
That’s something genuinely Mediterranean!
To cook this low-calorie vegan dinner, soak 80 g of soy meat in water for 10 minutes, then cut it into cubes. Preheat a frying pan sprayed with cooking oil. Dice half a bell pepper into cubes and put it along with the soy meat in the pan. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes.
Then, add 4-5 olives, a tablespoon of tomato paste, some water (if needed), lemon juice, salt, and spices to taste and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle parsley or other herbs, add some diced garlic, and enjoy!
This dinner is about 230 calories and contains 18 g of protein.
Soak 40 g of soy meat for 10 minutes. Then drain the water, squeeze the soy meat, and cut it into cubes. Dice 90 g of tofu, a quarter of an avocado, and half of the medium mango.
Tear some lettuce leaves with your hands, cut one large or two small tomatoes, add half of a medium onion. Prepare the seasoning: Mix a teaspoon of olive oil with a teaspoon of lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Put all your ingredients together, pour the seasoning sauce on top, and enjoy.
This salad is about 290 calories and contains 18 g of protein.
As a vegetarian who eats fish and seafood, or at least eggs and dairy, you don’t have to face many problems making your meals more protein-dense. However, finding protein sources can be challenging if you’re a vegan. Here are some cooking tips to get enough protein (at least 0.8 g per kg of body weight4Ryan-Harshman M., Aldoori W. (2006, February). New Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients and Fibre. Canadian Family Physician. PMID:16529389 or 1.6 g of protein per kg5Leidy H. J., Clifton P. M., Astrup A., et al. (2015, June). The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. DOI:10.3945/ajcn.114.084038 if you want to build muscle).
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