Comfort foods are classic foods. They are those belly bruisers that cause us to loosen our belts a little, kick back, and take a nap while it all digests. Comfort foods are not smoothies. They are not dainty or fancy. Rather, they are stacked, filling, and familiar. They are often nutritious but in a grandma-made it kind of way, that home-cooked, meat-on-your-bones type of healthy. Only, today, in this here article, they are also vegan and packed with protein.
You read that right. Vegan…protein…comfort food, just like grandma never imagined. What? You didn’t think vegan food could be comforting? Wrong. What? You thought protein was meat and dairy exclusive? Double wrong. Buckle in folks. Let’s get to work. Comfort classics done with a vegan twist.
First, a quick word on protein, by the bullet:
- Protein is one of the three macro-nutrients needed by our bodies. The other two: fat and carbs.
- Amino acids make up proteins, and it’s essential we get the nine amino acids our body can’t produce on its own.
- Like meat, many plants have all nine essential amino acids, AKA complete proteins: soy, quinoa, hemp seeds, kale, okra, bananas, tomatoes, peas, carrots, brussel sprouts…
- Even so, our body can store amino acids, so foods don’t need to have complete proteins. The body can combine them all later.
- Despite non-vegans’ obsession with protein, too much is a bad thing and can cause problems in the long run. (In other words, don’t get too comfortable after you read this article!)
And, now, our list of ten protein-pumped creations of comfort!
For breakfast, it’s juiced up versions of old a.m. favorites:
Chocolate Chip Cookie Protein Pancakes
Pancakes are not customarily known as a protein source so much as a horrible pit of sugar and refined flour. Not today, Jack! Take a look at this recipe and start the morning right: a big protein-packed breakfast and a mid-morning rest.
Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge
Doubting me as to whether porridge is a comfort food? Ask Goldilocks! This stuff fills the belly and makes a frosty morning so warm and tingly in the tummy. In this one, quinoa pumps up the protein count in case any hungry bears show up.
Mexican-Spiced Tofu Scramble
I’m a Louisiana boy, so spicy says comfort to me. Also, having spent a lot of time in Texas, Mexican food isn’t far off the mark either. In other words, this is one distinctly comfortable breakfast with a lot of soy-sourced protein.
For lunch, it’s stuff that belongs in our hands, not on forks:
Chickpea ‘Tuna’ Salad Sandwich
Nothing says comfortable like hitting the sweet spot of a sandwich, where the innards are dribbling down your chin a little. Maybe stuff potato chips or a dill pickle in with that last big bite of chickpea power.
Tempeh ‘Fish’ and Chips with Tartar Sauce
This one comes with a double dose of protein from the tempeh (the fish ‘meat’) and the chickpea flour (the batter). Sure, it’s fried, so it’s not an everyday recommendation. But, fried sure feels comfortable sometimes.
Vegan Black-Eyed Pea Burgers with Mississippi Comeback Sauce
Sweet summer rain, that’s a mouthful before the first bite. Can’t have a comfort food list without a burger, and what a mess of a burger this is, with a couple of shots of good protein from the legumes and brown rice.
For dinner, it’s sit down with the family-style dishes that can be passed around:
When the word loaf is used for something that isn’t bread, I personally gear up for a classic taste sensation and a side of mashed potatoes. Luckily, it’s no stretch for the vegan chef to loaf something up, and in this case, the loafing material of lentils provides a loaf of protein.
The Unturkey Roast
When the word roast is used as a noun, well…something very loaf-like (as seen above) happens to me. Just add some gravy to the mix. This recipe gets well-rounded protein boosts from tofu (soy) and chickpeas. And, you get to carve it by the slice.
Chipotle Chocolate Chili
Got to have some sort of soup when it comes to comfort food lists, and got to have some legumes when it comes to vegan protein. The perfect combination: chili. Then, why not funk that up with some chocolate and Chipotle vegetarian sausages.
For dessert, it’s more protein. That’s right: A dessert with protein.
Almond Cacao Cookies with Salted Maca Caramel
We move in mysterious ways, deep into the superfood forest. Can’t beat homemade cookies for comfort, so why not do them with a little almond and assorted nut protein and super vitamins from cacao and maca?
I won’t be so bold as to say each one of these dishes will provide you with a day’s worth of protein per serving, but we are talking true, solid RDA percentages with no apologies. Thought comfort food rich in protein meant meat — think again. Now, get to cookin’.
Lead image source: Chipotle Chocolate Chili