Growing a garden at home has a lot to do with how good fresh vegetables taste. Tomatoes grown in rich soil picked off the vine not far from the dinner table just do—provenly so—tingle the taste buds entirely differently. For that reason alone, it’s worth growing some food out in the yard.
However, we shouldn’t forget that a nice, assorted vegetable garden also supplies tons of important nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals. There is a reason doctors and moms like to insist we eat more vegetables when we are young. They are healthy. Even better, vegetables freshly harvested at home and grown in rich, organic soil are even more nutritious.
Now, for us plant-based eaters, we are often faced with the somewhat misinformed question of where we get our protein. And, isn’t it great that the simple answer to that question can be from the garden. Of course, some semblance of protein is in just about every vegetable, but here are some of the best for growing a high-protein harvest.
1. Green Peas
For fresh vegetables, nothing beats green peas in terms of protein. They are hard to be in terms of taste as well! Often green peas don’t make it to the dinner table because they are so nice to snack on straight from the pod, right in the garden.
Green peas have nearly nine grams of protein per cup. Though they are often pigeonholed into that boiled, mushy stuff on the side of whatever you’re eating, peas can be used in other ways. They are great tossed in salads, pureed into spreads, liquified as soup, and put into pesto.
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Collards are a favorite in the South, and they’ve steadily been gaining popularity elsewhere. The sturdy leaves have become a go-to replacement for tortillas when making sandwich wraps. Collards are one of the easy greens to grow as they tolerate a bit more heat than others.
By the cup, collard greens have over five grams of protein, and of course, with dark, leafy greens, there comes a staggering amount of other quality nutrients. Collards can be cooked down soul food style, but they are also delicious sautéed, in coleslaw, or amongst a salad mix.
It’s no secret that soybeans are a wicked source of protein. They are a vital ingredient to much of the classic plant-based “meat” stuff, such as TVP, tofu, and tempeh. Let’s not forget that fresh soybeans, edamame a la the sushi bar, are also packed with protein.
Edamame brings a crazy 18-plus grams of protein per cup! Plus, they are so easy to prepare as a snack: just a bit of steam. But, these fresh soybeans can be served in other ways as well. They can be tossed into hummus, quinoa bowls, fresh salads, or burger blends.
Spinach’s reputation precedes it, so there isn’t much room to wax poetically about how nutritious it is. This vegetable spent years as the poster child for what’s healthy. Well, that’s all the more reason to grow it at home.
Spinach, like collards, provides about five grams of protein per cup. It’s crazy versatile, with the ability to play nicely inside salads, carry off primary dish duties, and dance shamelessly on pizza, in tofu scrambles, or as filling in crepes, ravioli…you get the point.
Perennial vegetables, which come back year after year without planting them each time, are great for the garden ecosystem. Along with rhubarb, asparagus is probably the most beloved of the perennial veggies. A good asparagus patch can supply food for twenty years.
Asparagus has nearly five grams of protein per cup. It’s hard to beat straight-up steamed asparagus, but that’s not the only way to have this vegetable. It works particularly fantastically in scrambles.
6. Brussels sprouts
Once a largely frowned upon side veg for holiday dinners, Brussels sprouts have begun to capture the imagination of chefs the country over. No longer are they boiled and buttered. They can come roasted, fried, and pan-seared if you like.
For every cup of Brussels sprouts, a chef can muster (ooh, they are good with mustard!), that’s close to six grams of protein consumed.
Alongside spinach, broccoli has long been the vegetable of choice for those pointing out what healthy looks like. Broccoli is ridiculously high in vitamins and minerals, with special points for its delivery of iron and fiber.
Broccoli also has over four grams of protein per medium-sized stalk, including the stalk, which is delicious and deserves to be eaten, too.
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- How to Grow Your Own Smoothie Garden
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- What is Veganic Gardening
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