Where do you get your protein?

One of my favorite vegan jokes:

Q: How many vegans does it take to screw in a light bulb
A: I don’t know, but where do you get your protein?

If vegans had a dollar for every time we were asked, “So where do you get protein?” we’d all be millionaires. Truth is, it’s extremely rare for someone who isn’t malnourished to be protein deficient. A lot of people have the misguided notion that protein only comes from animal sources. When in reality, many plants, grains, beans, nuts all contain protein without the saturated fats and cholesterol that animal products have. 

This chart shows just a few ways to get protein, but keep in mind there are many vegan protein options. You don’t need to supplement protein with a healthy diet. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often much, protein. Fruits, sugars, fats, and alcohol do not provide much protein, so a diet based only on these foods would have a good chance of being too low in protein. However, not many vegans we know live on only bananas, hard candy, margarine, and beer. Vegans eating varied diets containing vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds rarely have any difficulty getting enough protein as long as their diet contains enough energy (calories) to maintain weight.
(gm) (gm/100 cal)

Tempeh 1 cup 31 9.6
Soybeans, cooked 1 cup 29 9.6
Seitan 3 ounces 21 17.5
Lentils, cooked 1 cup 18 7.8
Black beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.7
Kidney beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.8
Chickpeas, cooked 1 cup 15 5.4
Pinto beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.3
Lima beans, cooked 1 cup 15 6.8
Black-eyed peas, cooked 1 cup 13 6.7
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 18.6
Veggie baked beans 1 cup 12 5.0
Tofu, firm 4 ounces 11 10.6
Tofu, regular 4 ounces 10 10.7
Bagel 1 med. (3.5 oz) 10 3.9
Quinoa, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Peas, cooked 1 cup 8 6.6
Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), cooked 1/2 cup 8 15.0
Peanut butter 2 Tbsp 8 4.1
Veggie dog 1 link 8 13.3
Spaghetti, cooked 1 cup 8 3.7
Almonds 1/4 cup 8 3.7
Soy milk, commercial, plain 1 cup 7 7.0
Whole wheat bread 2 slices 7 5.2
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 7 3.4
Soy yogurt, plain 8 ounces 6 4.0
Bulgur, cooked 1 cup 6 3.7
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 3.3
Cashews 1/4 cup 5 2.7
Spinach, cooked 1 cup 5 13.0
Broccoli, cooked 1 cup 4 6.7
Plant-based proteins are high in fiber, free from cholesterol and alkaline the body. Meat based proteins are devoid of fiber which acidify the body, it causes calcium to be leached from your bones, decreases oxygen in your blood and negatively impacts the digestive/lymphatic system. There a lot of myths regarding meat as being a “complete” protein and plant based protein as “incomplete”. The term “complete” protein refers to having all 9 essential amino acids. “Incomplete”proteins refer to foods that have all of the essential amino acids but is low in one or more of them. Plant foods do have “incomplete” proteins, however if you eat a wide variety of plant based proteins i.e. dark green leafy veggies, legumes, beans, grains and fruits our body will take what it needs from each of those and form a “complete” protein. You also get phytonutrients and antioxidants, both are things meat can’t offer. By eating a variety of plant based whole foods, you get the best of both worlds. Quinoa, spinach and tofu all are complete proteins and don’t need to be mixed with others proteins. If you have beans and rice you get a complete protein as well. 
I always recommend that people make meals with beans, nuts and tofu rather than the fake meats. When I cook for my family, 90% of our diet is whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, tofu, etc. I rarely use fake meats because to be honest they’re processed and not great for you. MorningStar Farms uses genetically modified ingredients and usually has milk and eggs in their products. Gardein, Yves and Tofurky are brands that don’t use genetically modified ingredients but in the end it’s still a processed food. I do use them frequently on my blog because I want to show people that if you’re craving your meats and usual foods that you don’t have to give up good eating completely. When I first went vegan I needed the fake meats while my tastes evolved. The purpose of my blog is for people thinking of going vegan or beginner vegans to get comfortable with it. I know what you’re thinking, well if fake meats aren’t very good then why shouldn’t I just eat real meat? Well real meat generally has 3 times the amount of fat than the fake meat version. Plus, the animals were given antibiotics, fed genetically modified corn or soy and contain high amounts of cholesterol and saturated fats. Eating fake meat is a lot better for you than actual meat. I’ve tricked many non-vegans with the use of Gardein fake chicken products, LightLife’s Smart ground, etc. Here are some of my favorite meat substitutes for beginner vegans that need “meat” in their life.
Ground Beef: LightLife’s Smart Ground, Gardein’s Burger Crumbles and Boca Naturals Beef Crumbles (make sure it’s in a tan bag otherwise it’s genetically modified) are my favorite versions.
Beef Cutlets: The only kind I’ve found that I liked were Gardein’s Beefless Tips
Hamburger: If you want one that tastes just like a hamburger try Gardein’s beefless burger
Chicken nuggets: Boca naturals has a great chickenless nugget (again make sure that they’re in the tan package)
Chicken Strips: Gardein’s Chipotle Lime Chickenless fingers and their seven grain chickenless fingers are the best in my book
Chicken breast: Gardein’s Chikn Scallopini is amazing!
Turkey: I hate Tofurky’s “turkey” it tastes rubbery to me so I recommend Gardein’s stuffed Turkey, truly wonderful!
Italian Sausage: Tofurky’s Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Italian sausages
Hot Dogs: Yves Jumbo Dog is hands down the best!
Pepperoni: Tie goes to LightLife’s Smart Pepperoni or Yves Pepperoni
Salami: Yves Deli Salami
Bologna: Yves Deli Bologna, tastes like the real deal
Deli Turkey: Yves Deli Turkey
Breakfast sausage: Field Roast has amazing variations of these my favorite is the Smoked Apple Sage, it’ll blow your mind
Wings: Gardein’s Spicy Buffalo Wings or their Sweet n Tangy Wings
Meats for stir fry: My 2 favorites are Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Chikn or Teriyaki Chikn Strips
Chicken Patties: Boca Naturals Spicy Chikn Patties
 Those are my personal favorites that I love, I’m in no way getting compensation from them for saying that. I’ve just tried everything and these are the ones I found that most resemble meat in taste and texture. I highly encourage you to get most of your protein from whole grains, dark leafy veggies, nuts/legumes, tofu, etc. 
Happy vegan eating!

Egg Substitutes

A common question I get asked is how to replace the egg in recipes. It really depends on what you are using the egg for. The egg replacer you would use in baking, you wouldn’t use for an egg scramble or a quiche. I will make this easy for you, here is your guide to replacing eggs by category all in one place. 
Why should I replace eggs?
You may have heard health benefits of eggs. However, if you break down the nutrient content, you’re getting a lot of saturated fats and cholesterol for protein. Simply replacing that egg with tofu, gives you the proteins without the saturated fats and cholesterol. Unless you’re eating organic eggs, the chicken you got your egg from was given massive amounts of antibiotics, growth hormones, etc. which are then passed onto you. Another down side of eggs are that they’re a chicken’s period….say what?! Yes, it’s a chicken’s period. So beyond the fact that they’re totally disgusting, you’re also intaking that chicken’s hormones. Which, if you’re a lady can throw off your monthly cycle. A lot of egg cartons say that they’re antibiotic or hormone free, but if you read articles on egg production, they will openly say that if a chicken isn’t producing eggs they will give them hormones to produce them. Since they’re not giving all of the chickens hormones, they can still label it hormone free. Either way, save your heart and health and use these amazing egg replacers. 

Scrambled Eggs/Quiche/Custards
Use tofu, remember it won’t “fluff” up like eggs but it does create a great texture. Plus, it’s tasteless so you can season it any way you need to, to get the taste you’re going for. 
1/4 cup tofu = 1 egg

Desserts/Baked Goods
You can use applesauce or a banana as an egg replacer, but it does add flavor. Make sure apple or banana would compliment your recipe. It also tends to make the baked good denser. You can add baking powder to counter act the heaviness of the fruits. If you want a light, fluffy dessert go with Ener-G egg replacer. It’s a self-stable egg replacer that’s around $2.50/box, it’s found at most grocery stores down the baking aisle, Whole Foods and other health food stores carry it as well. 
1/4 cup banana = 1 egg
1/4 applesauce = 1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer + 1 tbsp. cold water = 1 egg


Savory Recipes such as Meatloaf

Try binding agents like mashed potatoes and tomato paste. Again, a 1/4 cup of either equals 1 egg.

Egg Whites
Mix 1 tbsp plain agar powder (available from health food stores/Chinese stores etc) with 1 tbsp water. Whip together, chill it and then whip it again.


Italian “Drunken” Noodles

I made this amazing dish for dinner the other night and I think it may be my new favorite recipe. It was so flavorful, filling and absolutely delicious. Plus, my kids loved it and wanted seconds. 

Here is a link to the original recipe:

Original ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • 4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
  • ½ cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
  • 8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked

My Version


  • Olive oil
  • 4 Tofurky Italian sausages
  • 1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I mixed basil & thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic (I used 4 tbsp pre-minced garlic)
  • ½ cup white wine 
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped (I used oregano from my herb garden instead. Use whichever you prefer)
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, julienned, divided use
  • 8 ounces Pappardelle noodles, uncooked (I couldn’t find Pappardelle noodles, so I used the 1/2 a pack of linguine I had left over from my Cajun Pasta recipe–see my first blog recipe post) 
Cook time: about 20 minutes
  • Place a large, heavy-bottom pan or braising pot over medium-high heat. Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and once the oil is hot, crumble the spicy Italian sausage into the pan in small chunks (you want to keep the sausage fairly chunky), allowing it to brown in the oil for a few moments on each side.
  • Prepare the noodles according to instructions on package. Then, drain the noodles very well.
  • Once the crumbled sausage is browned, remove it from the pan/pot and place into a small bowl to hold for a moment. 
  • Next, add the sliced onion into the pan, add more oil if needed and allow it to caramelize and become golden for roughly 5 minutes or so, stirring to keep it from burning 
  • Once the onion starts to become golden, add the salt, Italian seasoning and cracked black pepper, and stir to combine, then add in the sliced bell peppers, and allow those to saute with the onion for about 2 minutes until slightly tender and golden.
  • Next, add in the garlic, and once it becomes aromatic, add in the white wine and allow it to reduce for a few moments, until almost completely reduced. 
  • Next, add in the diced tomatoes with their juice, and return the browned spicy Italian sausage back into the pan, and gently fold the mixture to combine; allow it to gently simmer for about 3-4 minutes to blend the flavors, then turn the heat off. 
  • To finish the sauce, drizzle in about 2-3 good tablespoons of the olive oil (I used olive oil from my friend, Jennie’s specialty store, The Olive Vineyard. The Tuscan Herb olive oil was just perfect) to create a silky, rich flavor, and add in the chopped parsley and about half of the julienned basil.
  • Add the noodeles directly into the sauce, using tongs to gently toss and combine the noodles with the sauce and all of the ingredients in it. Check the seasoning to see if you need to add any additional salt or pepper.
  • To serve, add equal portions of the “Drunken” noodles to bowls, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining julienned basil and an extra drizzle of olive oil (if you’d like)