If you grew up eating meat and dairy (which many of us did), getting enough protein and counting how much you consumed in a day was likely never a huge concern, except if you were an intense athlete. But when you start eating more plant-based foods, not only does where your protein comes from becomes a personal concern, it also seems to become the concern of just about everyone you talk to. Luckily, it’s not a tough question to answer.
Plant-based foods like beans and legumes, grains, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds, and even some types of vegetables suddenly become an important part of our daily diet. But what do we make with these foods that were once pushed to the side that are now in the spotlight? Well, to start, we can recreate our favorite meals, from starters to dessert, without meat, dairy, or eggs. Recipes like these Mini Stuffed Seitan Roasts With Instant Mushroom Gravy are savory, tender, and meaty. This Cheesy Lentil Lasagna has that gooey, melty cheese that we all love about lasagna with lentils standing in for the traditional meat crumbles. We can also think creatively and bring vegetables to the center of our plate, like this Whole Roasted Celeriac With Herbs, Olive Oil, and Sea Salt or this Tahini-Roasted Cauliflower With Lemony Herb Oil. In these two examples, a side of lentils or high-protein grains with vegetables will add protein to our meal.
What about when you want to share plant-based foods with your friends and family? Maybe you’re planning a little get-together and you are not sure where to begin or maybe you’re just inviting some people over for dinner. You want to serve plant-based dishes that can be wholesome, flavorful, and keep them full – the best way to do that is to make sure you’re using protein-rich ingredients.
So, if you’re looking for high-protein recipes for starters, sides, dinners, and dessert (yes, high-protein dessert), you’ve come to the right place. Just try these 15 recipes!
1. Shorbat Adas: Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup
Shorbat Adas is a very popular Middle Eastern soup of lentils that is seasoned with lemon, cumin, and olive oil that’s typically served with pitas. In this rendition, collard greens are added for a boost of nutrition. Instead of pita bread, it’s served with crunchy za’atar spiced pita croutons. Overall, this is a tasty, nutritious, easy, and protein-rich soup to serve as a starter.
2. Green Protein Bowl With Garlicky Dressing
In this Green Protein Bowl With Garlicky Dressing, leafy greens, broccoli, and seeds are topped with a creamy, lemony dressing. This high-protein salad has all the varying flavors and textures that its green ingredients bring, plus a little bit of cheesiness. Creamy tahini dressing spiked with lemon and garlic makes it reminiscent of a simplified Caesar, and the generous sprinkling of seeds keeps your belly full. You won’t need a side to go with this protein-packed salad.
3. Baked Quinoa Balls
These yummy high-protein Baked Quinoa Balls are simple to make and fantastic as an addition to salads or as an appetizer with dipping sauce. They bake well, are crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside with a little bit of sweetness from cranberries. These would also be great on top of pasta of any kind!
4. Skillet Potatoes With Chickpeas and Apples
If you love easy, wholesome side dishes, then this one-pan Skillet Potatoes With Chickpeas and Apples is the recipe for you. Cubed potatoes are fried with savory onion and served on a protein-packed bed of quinoa and chickpeas. Roasted apple slices bring a subtle sweetness to the dish and you can use whatever fresh herbs you like to adjust the flavor of the dish to your liking. This dish takes just 20 minutes to make — win!
5. Cauliflower and Lentils With Dill Tahini
This easy side of Cauliflower and Lentils With Dill Tahini will become a favorite at first bite. Roasted cauliflower is combined with freekeh and protein-rich sprouted lentils. While the cauliflower takes about 30 minutes to roast. You could steam it to save time, bringing the entire cook time down to 20 minutes. Topped with a creamy, herby dill tahini sauce, this filling dish may have simple flavors, but it’s anything but boring.
6. Pasta Bolognese
You will love this Pasta Bolognese! This traditionally meaty Italian dish is given a meat-free makeover with beefy soy protein crumbles. The delicious homemade sauce gives this entrée that authentic Italian flavor. How do you add even more protein? Swap out regular pasta for pasta made from quinoa, brown rice, beans, or lentils! Yum!
7. Veggie Roast
This gluten-free, seitan-inspired Veggie Roast is a great vegan meat substitute for anyone looking for something tasty to eat. Traditional seitan uses vital wheat gluten for a hearty and protein-rich meat substitute, but this version relies on gluten-free flours and beans to create a delicious alternative. Combined with savory flavors from tomato paste, paprika, and herbs, you’ll never want to eat any other veggie loaf for the rest of your life.
8. Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chili Sauce
After braising in the spicy chili sauce, these Seitan Short Ribs will be tender to the point of almost falling apart. Serve over potatoes or polenta and ladle more of the sauce over everything, after you’ve placed the seitan ribs on top of the mashed potatoes. This dish is so comforting, warm, meaty, and satisfying.
9. Crispy Breaded Chickpea Cutlets in Mushroom Gravy
You won’t believe how fantastic these Crispy Breaded Chickpea Cutlets in Mushroom Gravy taste — or that the “breading” is gluten-free! Chickpeas have the perfect flavor and texture for this meal that’ll win over anybody. Serve this alongside some fresh greens or any vegetable of your choosing.
10. Meatloaf Veggie Burger With Cauliflower Mash and Gravy
Let’s take veggie burgers to a whole new level, shall we? These Meatloaf Veggie Burgers are like that classic weeknight dinner in an amazing burger form. They’re made from a hearty combination mushrooms, chickpeas, and lentils, baked with a sweet ketchup glaze and then topped with creamy cauliflower mash and gravy. A bite of this burger is like taking a step right into protein-rich, comfort food heaven.
11. Chocolate Protein Mousse
This simple Chocolate Protein Mousse will blow your mind! Silken tofu gives the mousse a wonderful, smooth, and creamy texture perfect for desserts. If you want to get the most out of your food, but still want your chocolate fix, then this recipe is for you.
12. Chickpea Chocolate Chip Bars
These Chickpea Chocolate Chip Bars are made with chickpeas and almond butter, so say hello to protein! The edges have the perfect “crispiness” to them while the inside is like a soft, gooey cookie. These are great for snacking, but they’re best after they’ve cooled down a bit, but the chocolate chips are still melty. For a dessert that’s indulgent, but still pretty healthy, try your bar with a banana ice cream and a dollop of whipped coconut cream!
13. Cinnamon Caramel Protein Tart
There are few things better than getting your nutrition in dessert form. This Cinnamon Caramel Protein Tart begins with an oat-coconut-date crust held together with maple syrup and coconut oil and has a rich date caramel filling that is given a boost of protein via powder. It’s gooey, it’s sticky, and it’s good for you!
14. Flourless Walnut Kidney Bean Brownies
For all of you who want to incorporate more beans into your diet – listen up! These Flourless Walnut Kidney Bean Brownies are a true winner! They’re dense, fudgy, rich, chocolatey and completely flourless. They’re sweetened with date syrup and made with kidney beans, so they’re high protein, so they’re the perfect healthier treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.
15. Pumpkin Chai Protein Doughnuts
Doughnuts are one of those delectable treats that feel way too sinful to indulge in if you are trying to eat healthy. While that’s usually the case, these Pumpkin Chai Protein Doughnuts prove that they can be made healthier. Made with gluten-free flour, coconut oil, pumpkin purée, and chai protein powder, these doughnuts are not only deliciously moist and flavorful, they’re chock full of good-for-you ingredients! Add the sweet vanilla glaze for a bit of added decadence or enjoy them solo!
We hope these recipes completely wow both you and your guests. Have fun cooking!
Lead image source: Veggie Roast