You’ve probably seen a bottle of zinc supplements in the drugstore, but have you ever wondered what it is and what it does for your body? Zinc is a micronutrient. To break it down easily, macronutrients like potassium, magnesium, and calcium are necessary for energy, muscle maintenance, healthy appetites, and other important bodily functions. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are individual vitamins, amino acids, and minerals that also help our bodies thrive. Because our bodies do not produce zinc on their own, a daily intake is required to help maintain these functions. Zinc helps our immune system function and it is essential to healthy pregnancies. While certain types of meat and seafood are high in zinc, we can easily get it from plant-based sources, too!
You don’t have to go to a specialty grocery to find plant-based sources of zinc. We can find it in beans and legumes, like black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts, to name a few, as well as products like tofu and tempeh that are made from soybeans. We can also get zinc from nuts, seeds, oats, and a couple of specialty products, like nutritional yeast and wheat germ.
1. Artichoke Sunflower Burgers
These Artichoke Sunflower Burgers are light, tangy, and so delicious. Made with artichoke hearts and zinc-rich oats, brown rice, and sunflower seeds, these burgers will be a hit with everyone. Make a double batch and freeze them so you can have one whenever the craving hits. Believe us, it will happen.
2. Kale Tofu Balls
These Kale Tofu Balls are a nice change-up from typical veggie meatballs. They’re light in color and flavor but are a filling addition to pasta. Nutritional yeast and tofu give them a unique texture, subtle cheesy tones, and a good dose of zinc!
3. Herbed Cashew Cheese
Cashews make a fantastic base for many raw food recipes, like this Herbed Cashew Cheese. In addition to zinc from nutritional yeast and cashews, it contains apple cider vinegar and fresh herbs, which are alkalizing. Goji berries add sweetness, but you can swap it out for your favorite dried berry, eat it plain, or add sun-dried tomatoes to make it savory.
4. Smoked Tofu Hoppin’ John
This Smoked Tofu Hoppin’ John, also called Carolina peas and rice, is a meat-free take on a Southern staple. While the recipe for a classic hoppin’ John includes bacon, this meat-free version swaps it out for smoked tofu cubes. Paired with black-eyed peas, you’ve got yourself an affordable and filling zinc-rich meal. The seasoning is kept light, just salt and pepper with a dash of hot sauce, so the smoky of the flavor is able to stand out. Serve with a side of collard greens or braised cabbage for a true Southern comfort food.
5. Spicy Peanut Mushroom Kale Soup
This African cuisine-inspired Spicy Peanut Mushroom Kale Soup is filled with flavor combos you will fall in love with, like coconut milk, peanut butter, and hoisin sauce. They all contribute to the rich, velvety texture of the broth, and along with the mushrooms and kale add a great umami flavor. Peanuts and peanut butter bring the zinc in this recipe — to add more, add tofu or tempeh!
6. Tomato and Lentils Over Pasta
This recipe for Tomato and Lentils Over Pasta is the perfect Sunday night dinner; it’s full-flavored, yet incredibly easy to make. Zinc-rich lentils are tossed in a mixture of mustard and onion with fresh cherry tomatoes and served on a bed of warm pasta. Swap out regular pasta for one made from beans or legumes (which are rich in zinc) and then top it with chopped, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of almond Parmesan.
7. Creamy Chia Cheddar Sauce
This delicious Creamy Chia Cheddar Sauce is packed with zinc-rich ingredients like cashews, nutritional yeast, and chia seeds. It’s also loaded with veggies that give it flavor and texture, like potatoes, carrots, and bell peppers. Chia seeds help give it a smooth, velvety texture that’s perfect for serving over broccoli, use it as a nacho cheese, or pour it over noodles to make the best mac and cheese you’ve ever had.
8. Grilled Marinated Tofu Sandwich
This Grilled Marinated Tofu Sandwich is a must-make. Extra firm sprouted tofu is marinated in a simple mixture of vegetable broth, liquid smoke, soy sauce, and maple syrup. As you prep the pickled vegetables and shredded carrot, the tofu soaks in the smoky-sweet flavor of the marinade. The liquid is also used when pan frying the tofu, infusing more flavor into the tofu while it cooks. Pair with creamy cashew-based sauce for even more zinc!
9. Country ‘Meatloaf’ With Gravy
This Country “Meatloaf” With Gravy is a wonderful recipe for feeding a crowd during the holidays or for just serving up some comfort food at home. Made from tempeh and brown rice, this hearty, savory loaf is rich in zinc and flavor. If you don’t want to serve it with gravy, it would also be fantastic topped with some sautéed mushrooms.
10. Eggplant and Carrot Oat Patty Stack
Need a bit of whimsy to your dinner? This Eggplant and Carrot Oat Patty Stack fits the bill — it’s delightful, filling, unique, and rich in zinc, thanks to the oats. The easy carrot oat patties are made from rolled oats combined with carrot juice and savory spices like smoked paprika and thyme. The eggplant is perfectly roasted and paired with tender zucchini and a tomato hoisin sauce. Then, there are carrot fries on the side for dipping in sauce. Yum!
11. Runner Recovery Bites
These little Runner Recovery Bites seriously hit the spot. They have carbs, protein, and a bit of sweetness to them — oh, and they’re super-rich in zinc, thanks to oats, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds. They’re a great bite to grab after any type of exercise … Or no exercise at all!
12. Red Lentil Curry With Black Tahini and Roasted Cashews
This quick Red Lentil Curry With Black Tahini and Roasted Cashews has complex flavors, but is super easy and inexpensive to make. It’s rich in zinc because of lentils, tahini, chickpeas, and cashews. You can also hide as many veggies and legumes as you like, depending on the season or what you like best.
13. Spicy Bean Chili With Roast Potatoes
This tasty, hearty, and healthy Spicy Bean Chili With Roast Potatoes is the answer to all your comfort food cravings. It has a base of plum tomatoes, two types of beans (which are both rich in zinc), a touch of maple syrup for sweetness, and plenty of warm spices. Add the roasted potatoes and you have the perfect spicy chili the perfect go-to meal for cold days.
14. Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Potatoes, mushrooms, lentils, vegan cheese shreds, spinach, and bread crumbs all layered up in one delicious dish – that is the beauty of this Mushroom Lentil Shepherd’s Pie. This warm and cozy bake is everything you want in a comfort meal. It’s hearty, filling, and healthy. Since this pie is basically a casserole, simply double or triple the recipe if you want to feed a large group.
15. Curried Chickpea Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
This Curried Chickpea Stuffed Spaghetti Squash has such amazing presentation, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can whip it up! Spaghetti squash is simply halved, scooped out, filled with deliciously seasoned chickpeas and tomatoes, and then baked. Chickpeas, like all beans, are rich in zinc, but the spaghetti squash provides a good amount as well. It’s not your conventional curry at all, but it’s just as hearty, flavorful, and filling!
Don’t worry about zinc — these recipes have got ya covered.
Lead image source: Spicy Bean Chili With Roast Potatoes