Plant Protein: 6 Vegetarian-Friendly, Protein-Packed Recipes

We all know that protein is essential for muscle growth and fat loss, but you may not know that your protein doesn’t always have to come from animal sources. Plants can be a great source of clean protein—you just have to know what kinds to buy. If you’re tired of constantly firing up the grill for chicken breasts and turkey burgers, try something new!

Use these six protein-filled, plant-based recipes to add some new flavors and protein sources to your diet. They’ll help fuel your transformation and keep you feeling healthy and energized!

1 / Quinoa Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads to bring to barbecues or to pot-luck parties. It also serves well for weekly meal planning! This dish isn’t your average green side salad, but has a healthy dose of protein, complex carbs and good-for-you fats. Pair it with lean meat for a complete meal.

Optional Add-ins
  1. Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup dry quinoa to a rolling boil. Boil for 2 minutes.
  2. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Allow to cook for another 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. In a separate small saucepan, boil frozen edamame in water for 5 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  4. Once quinoa and edamame are fully cooked, add all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until all flavors are incorporated.
Nutrition Facts
(without add-ins)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4 servings
Amount per serving
Calories 141
Total Fat6g
Total Carbs16g


2 / Stacked Portabellas

This is a filling, hearty veggie dish! Even though there’s no meat, you’ll still need a knife and fork to dig into this meal.

  • 2 large Mushroom Portabella Caps rinsed clean and dried
  • 1 cup cooked Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Tempeh
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 1 cup Spinach
  • 1 Tomato, sliced
  • 2 tbsp shredded Almond Cheese or Fat-free Mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tbsp each of Paprika, Cumin, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  1. Turn on oven to high broil.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and tempeh to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until onion begins to soften.
  4. Add quinoa, spices, salt and pepper and saute a few more minutes.
  5. On a baking sheet, place portabello mushrooms brushed lightly with olive oil.
  6. Stack mushroom caps with spinach, quinoa mixture, sliced tomatoes, and shredded cheese.
  7. Broil for 5 minutes.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, serves 2
Amount per serving
Calories 324
Total Fat14.35g
Total Carbs34g


3 / Mexican Style Protein Bowl

Give yourself a break from grilled meat and throw these ingredients together for an easy and tasty alternative to the usual. You’ll get all the flavor of a Mexican-restaurant meal without the fried fat and unhealthy calories!

Optional Add-ins
  1. In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
  2. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts (with Greek Yogurt)
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves one
Amount per serving
Calories 292
Total Fat9g
Total Carbs40g


4 / Tofu Bento

This is a great protein-packed meal I love to make for lunch during the week. I usually take whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, stir fry them with some lively spices, and add them to brown rice and tofu. Use whatever veggies you’d like—below are my usual ingredients.

  • 1 package extra firm Tofu
  • 2 cups cooked Brown Rice
  • 2 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp each of Ginger, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Chili Paste
  • 1 bunch Broccolini, chopped
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Orange Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sliced Green Onion (optional)
  • Sriracha to top (optional)
  1. Remove tofu from package and press with paper towels to absorb all excess moisture.
  2. Chop tofu into cubes and place in large Ziploc bag.
  3. In a large saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  4. Add broccolini and bell pepper and stir until lightly softened.
  5. Heat another pan to medium heat and add tofu.
  6. Cook tofu for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until all sides get cooked.
  7. To serve, add 1/2 cup of brown rice and top with tofu, veggies, and green onions.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 257
Total Fat8g
Total Carbs13g


5 / Lentil Marinara Spaghetti Squash

When you’re dieting for a competition, it’s unlikely your nutrition plan allows for pasta. Don’t be sad! This recipe tastes just as good as the real thing—just without all the simple carbs. You’ll get some healthy, complex carbs from the lentils and extra veggie goodness from the spaghetti squash.

  • 1 whole Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 can diced Tomatoes (look for low-sugar and low-sodium versions)
  • 1 cup cooked Lentils
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Pierce squash with fork multiple times and bake for 60 min, or until outside is softened.
  3. In a large pan, heat olive oil and garlic over medium heat.
  4. Add lentils, tomatoes, veggies and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. While sauce is cooking, scrape out spaghetti squash with fork onto plate.
  7. Top with about one cup of lentil marinara sauce.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe serves 4
Amount per serving
Calories 140
Total Fat16g
Total Carbs20.3g


6 / Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Many people love P.F. Chang’s chicken lettuce wraps. I was inspired to create a cleaner, meat-free version at home! It is quick and tasty, and a great option for a low-carb dinner.

  • 1 package Tempeh, crumbled
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Low-sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp of Ginger, Onion, and Garlic Powder
  • 1 head Butter-leaf Lettuce
  1. Heat olive and garlic in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, tempeh, and bell pepper and saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add soy sauce and spices and cook for another 2 minutes.
  4. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size Per serving, recipe makes 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
Total Fat9.5g
Total Carbs12g

Prevent A Pig-Out: 6 Steps To Better Willpower

Your best weight-loss intentions will inevitably come face-to-face with temptation. Learn to boost your willpower, and keep the pounds off.

It was right there for the taking. After a 5-mile group run, I drove past my favorite takeout place. My stomach was craving—no, demanding—food. A lot of it. I had a recovery shake waiting for me at home, but this was so much faster. Besides, I deserved a reward for burning off almost 800 calories. What’s wrong with a tasty payoff for my commitment to health? I turned into the drive-thru lane.

My willpower had failed me. Yes, it had gotten me to my run on time, but it vanished when I needed it most. Any gains I’d made I gave right back. Why couldn’t I say no?

It turns out that willpower isn’t simply dense moral fiber. The latest science suggests it’s found in the soft gray matter of your frontal lobe, where good decisions are made and poor choices are rejected. Your willpower is tough. It helps you fight temptation, prevent binges, choose food wisely, and stay motivated. But it’s a finite resource. Nurture it, maintain it, and deploy it with this six-point plan.

Step 1 /// Feed Your Willpower

Here’s a surprise: Your willpower runs on sugar. Like your muscles, your brain needs glucose to function at an optimal level, says Roy Baumeister, Ph.D., social psychology area director at Florida State University and coauthor of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

In a series of nine studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Baumeister discovered that people with steady glucose levels were more persistent at attempting to complete an unsolvable task than those whose glucose levels declined during the experiments. “Increase your blood glucose and you can fuel your willpower,” he says.

Wait, put down the Skittles. Sure, glucose is easily available from straight sugar, but your body also creates it from fruit, many vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. You can even build glucose by pumping up your protein, says Baumeister. “It takes your body longer to make glucose from protein, but the benefits can last longer,” he says.

One problem is that weight-watching men often adopt extreme low-calorie diets. “If you starve yourself, you’ll have low glucose,” says Baumeister. And without sufficient glucose, your brain doesn’t have the fuel it needs to resist junk food. So if you feel your energy fading, don’t skip smart snacks, like nuts.

Step 2 /// Celebrate Wisely

Scientists have a name for my drive-thru cave-in: compensation. It’s the inclination to reward yourself for a job well done, and that feeling can fight with your weight-loss intentions. In fact, the harder your workout is, the bigger you may think your compensation should be, says Timothy Church, M.D., Ph.D., director of the laboratory of preventive medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University.

“When men endure a tough, hourlong workout or push through a 7-mile run, they feel a need to celebrate,” he says. “But a good workout is not carte blanche to eat whatever you want.”

The solution: Don’t rely on your willpower to deny yourself a well-earned treat. Instead, use it to ensure that your reward doesn’t outweigh the workout (literally).

“Do the math: If you burned off 700 calories, keep your food intake to less than that,” says Dr. Church. It’s a pat on the back that doesn’t wipe out your hard work. Or go with a nonfood reward: Buy yourself an iTunes download every time you work out, or treat yourself to basketball tickets when you rack up 10 training sessions.

Step 3 /// Play Defense

Even well-fed willpower won’t resist all temptation. You’ll need to conserve your supply so it’s always there for you. A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology followed people’s reactions to enticements throughout the day. Oddly, people with the best self-control were the ones who used their willpower less often. Instead of fending off one temptation after another, they set up their daily lives to minimize them.

In other words, they played defense. “Look inside people’s fridges—they’re full of temptations,” says lead researcher Wilhelm Hofmann, Ph.D., assistant professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago. Leftover Chinese, Ben & Jerry’s, cans of Coke? Toss it all and don’t buy it again. There—now your willpower can get some rest at home.

Step 4 /// Stay Alert

Want to make smart choices? Go to bed early. “Willpower is lower when you’re sleepy,” says Kelly Glazer Baron, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist at Northwestern University who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine.

The average night owl consumes an additional 248 calories more each day than someone who goes to bed earlier, and most of those extra calories tend to be racked up after 8 p.m., according to 2011 research published in the journal Obesity.

Short night of sleep? Pour a cup of coffee and add a packet of real sugar—not Splenda or some other artificial sweetener. A 2010 Spanish study revealed that the combination of caffeine and sugar increased cognitive performance in the bilateral parietal cortex and left prefrontal cortex regions. These are two areas of the brain that support your ability to stay focused and goal-oriented when confronted with tempting distractions.

Step 5 /// Scare Yourself

It’s easy to rationalize and convince yourself that one more plate of sliders won’t make a difference to your waistline. To fuel your resolve, try taking the opposite approach—tell yourself a tall tale. A University of Texas study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that exaggerating the number of calories in a favorite food—a tactic called “counteractive construal”—can help you override those temptations.

That hot, slender girl who recoils from pizza? She’s onto something. Overestimating the impact of a gut bomb can help establish a clear, direct link between “bad food” and “being out of shape.” Imagining that a cheeseburger contains 2,000 calories can prompt you to start picturing yourself with an extra 20 pounds. And that will help you say no.

Step 6 /// Delay, Don’t Deny

When it comes to food lures, procrastination can be a good thing. Instead of simply saying no to that nacho platter, tell yourself you’ll eat it sometime in the future.

A study presented at this year’s annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology found that people who decided to postpone eating a bag of potato chips were more capable of resisting the temptation than people who simply tried to refrain altogether from eating the crunchy, salty snack.

While “no” only intensifies feelings of deprivation, “later” has a different effect: “Postponement weakens the desire at the precise time when peak desire overwhelms willpower,” says study author Nicole Mead, Ph.D., of the Rotterdam School of Management. It’s unrealistic to postpone all unhealthy foods and drinks, she says. Instead, pick one or two that tempt you the most and postpone those. Add more over time and you’ll reap even bigger results.


53 Muscle Building Recipe Subtitutions

Getting in the right foods for your muscle-building needs can get a bit tricky at times not to mention monotonous. Variety is king when it comes to continuing your quest to build maximum, lean muscle without adding body fat.

For example, sometimes switching up an ingredient or two can work wonders for helping you build the ideal physique. No need to overhaul your whole plan, simply substituting certain foods for healthier options can open up a whole new path toward more muscle. Read on if you want to get bigger, stronger and leaner.

Protein Sources

1. White-meat, skinless poultry for dark-meat poultry
Which is best: white or dark meat? With white poultry meat containing less fat and more protein than its darker counterpart, the choice is clear.

2. Bison over beef
Bison is quickly becoming the bodybuilder’s best friend as it is lower in fat, higher in protein than beef and increasingly more available.

For a cool source of Bison protein to eat on the go, try Tanka Bars, Available on Named after the Lakota word for “Outstanding” the 70-calorie Tanka Bar delivers a slow, powerful protein punch by mixing two primary ingredients: low-fat, high-energy American buffalo meat and tasty cranberries.

3. Ground turkey for ground beef
Be sure to select lean ground turkey as it will be lower in fat and is a great source of easily digestible muscle-building protein.

4. Whole eggs for egg whites
WHAT, you say?! Yes, the fats in whole eggs secretly provide triggers to help keep vital hormones such as testosterone operating at premium levels. Also, you will get an extra helping of protein within the yolk! Read More: Raw egg protein shakes, will it kill you?

5. Skim milk for 2% milk
Having virtually no fat, skim is a great way to go especially when on a fat-cutting diet.

6. Low-fat cottage cheese over regular cottage cheese
Much like milk, the low-fat and fat-free varieties are the logical options.

7. Greek yogurt for regular yogurt
Having twice as much protein as regular yogurt, the Greek version also boasts more natural ingredients without the added gelatin.

8. Lean turkey bacon over pork bacon
Lower in calories, fat and cholesterol, turkey bacon is a great source for morning protein when eggs just lose their appeal.

9. Fresh tilapia and salmon over canned tuna
The choice is clear when choosing a fresh catch over the canned variety. Singling out salmon particularly; this protein powerhouse also contains vital healthy fats.

10. Beef jerky for potato chips
Beef of the jerky kind is not only an excellent source of whole protein but also extremely portable and convenient. If you need a snack, opt for one packed with protein.

11. Whey protein for weight gainer powder
Whey not only provides the best possible combination of branch chain amino acids, it also is void of the high amounts of sugars and carbs that most weight gainers contain.

12. Low-fat cheeses over regular cheese
Lower in fat, cholesterol and calories, low-fat cheese is a clear winner.

13. Chicken breast for deli meat
Fresh cooked chicken breast is a far superior source over highly processed and additive-filled deli meat. Not to mention chicken has the all too important higher protein content.

14. Sirloin steak over ribeye
Sirloin boasts a leaner cut and lower cholesterol and fat than its fatty cousin the ribeye. Plus, the sirloin has a more protein per square inch.

15. Casein protein for late-night binges
Casein is an excellent choice for a late-night fix. As a slow-digesting protein, it’s ideal to fuel the body during the eight or so hour fast during sleep.

16. Turkey sausage for pork sausage
Being the leaner of the two, the turkey variety has less cholesterol, fat and calories.

Fat Replacements

17. Natural peanut butter for regular or low-fat peanut butter
Yes, it is true. Even the low fat kind still has a lot of unnatural stuff in it such as preservatives and trans fats. Stick with the natural kind for a healthy dose of goodfats and an extra helping of protein.

18. Greek yogurt for mayonnaise.
Mayonnaise can get a bit high in fat and calories due to the fact that not many of us truly measure what we eat. Using Greek yogurt can put you at ease and give you a little extra protein in the meantime.

19.  Coconut Oil for anywhere oil or butter are normally used. Ideal substitution.
Replace as a butter or margarine spread on toast and muffins. Coconut oil as a dietary source of MCTs. Try dripping melted coconut oil over popcorn instead of butter. View Onnit Coconut Oil.

20. Avocado for butter
Simply mashing up your avocado into a puree can easily replace butter on any sandwich while reaping the rewards of healthy fats and antioxidants.

21. Unsweetened applesauce over oil
If you find yourself with a recipe that calls for some not-so-desirable cooking oil, simply slash the fat and calories by subbing in unsweetened applesauce. Lighter, healthier and tastier.

22. Olive oil for butter
Another great way to slash saturated fat and boost healthy fats. Not to mention cutting down on cholesterol.

23. Sunflower seeds for croutons
Cutting out the breaded crouton and adding in some healthy fats from sunflower seeds can go a long way toward better recovery and performance in the gym.

24. Sliced almonds for croutons
Another great substitute for croutons providing healthy doses of fat and minerals to help recovery.

25. Low-fat cottage cheese over sour cream
If yogurt isn’t your first choice try low-fat cottage cheese. More protein, less fat.

26. Oil-based dressings over cream-based dressings on salads
The oil-based variety is normally derived from olive oil sources and the cream-based are from saturated fat sources.

27. Natural almond butter for regular peanut butter
Another no-brainer. Natural beats out processed every day of the week.

28. Cinnamon for coffee creamer
Adding in some cinnamon over creamer drastically reduces the calorie content and boosts the fat-burning properties.

Carbohydrate substitutions

29. Quinoa over white rice
Quinoa serves up a more complex chain of starches and provides an extra helping of protein as a bonus. White rice has virtually no fiber and little, if any, protein.

30. Long grain brown rice over white rice
The long grains provide a more fibrous and complex carb than white rice which will help you feel fuller, longer.

31.  Steel cut oats for instant oatmeal
Steel cut oats are a phenomenal source of whole grain oats and will provide a steady state of energy as opposed to the quick digesting, insulin inducing packaged, flavored oatmeal packs.

32. Sweet potato for white potato
Although not a completely bad choice, the traditional white potato pales in comparison to the sweet potato regarding fiber, vitamins, minerals and glycemic effect.

33. Spinach lettuce for iceberg lettuce
The almost non-nutritious iceberg lettuce does very little to boost any real muscle-building benefits, however, spinach contains much-needed iron and other vital mineral and vitamins plus fiber.

34. Mashed cauliflower over mashed potatoes
Much lower in calories and simple starches, mashed cauliflower is an excellent substitute for potatoes without the guilt.

35. 100% whole wheat pasta over regular pasta
The whole wheat variety is not only the healthier choice but will also create more satiety in the long run and normalize blood sugar levels.

36. Whole grain cereals for sugar-laden cereals
If cereal is your thing, try to stick with the whole grain kind. Normally higher in vitamins and minerals, whole grain cereals are also significantly lower in sugar.

37. 100% whole wheat bread for white bread
Nearly stripped of all nutritious benefits, white bread does not stack up to the nutrient-rich, fibrous wheat bread. Just be sure it states 100% whole wheat.

38. Ezekiel bread over 100% whole wheat bread
If you want to go a step further, Ezekiel bread (which is flourless) is a prime choice for a low glycemic alternative.

39. Apples for sugary snacks
Apples are the superior choice for not only slow-digesting energy, but also contain specific phytochemicals to help burn body fat.

40. Beans for corn
Beans are an excellent source of not only fibrous carbs but also contain an impressive amount of protein. Alternately, corn has little to offer the muscle-building minded.

41. Applesauce for sugar
Applesauce is lower in sugar and is an excellent ingredient in place of many recipes that call for regular sugar. be sure to purchase the unsweetened kind.

42. Stevia for sugar
Lower in calories and 300 times sweeter than sugar, stevia is all natural. Since it is sweeter than sugar a lot less is needed for cooking or baking.

43. Lettuce leaves for tortilla wraps
If losing the carbs in your diet is your objective, then lettuce wraps are an excellent substitute for anything you wrap be it fish, chicken or steak.

44. Sweet potato fries for regular french fries
Choosing sweet potatoes over the traditional white adds an extra dose of fiber and powerful B vitamins. Plus, it cuts out roughly 20 grams of carbohydrates per one-cup serving.

45. Unsweetened tea over sugary drinks
Cutting out sugary drinks will dramatically have an effect on not only your calorie consumption but also on your blood sugar levels. You can always use sugar substitute to sweeten tea or other calorie-free drinks.

46. Frozen or fresh fruit for canned fruit
Opting for the fresh or frozen kind will eliminate the syrupy juices found in canned varieties and you will also avoid a lot of the additives and preservatives while you’re at it.

47. Frozen yogurt over ice cream
Yogurt not only has live and active cultures but is also lower in fat than ice cream. But use sparingly. Yogurt of the frozen kind can add up in calories before you know it.

48. Dark chocolate over milk chocolate
Dark chocolate has long been superior over the ever-popular milk chocolate for many reasons. It boasts a lower sugar content and is high in free-radical fighting flavonoids.


49. Garlic powder for salt
If salt is an issue (especially from eating mounds of  animal protein) then garlic can provide a flavorful punch in place of sodium.

50. Low-sodium soy sauce over regular soy sauce
Cutting sodium virtually in half, the low sodium kind still tastes the same.

51. Fruit puree over syrup
Not only will you cut out tons of empty calories, but you will also be getting in tons of healthy antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

52. Lemon juice over butter
When cooking meats, fish or chicken, try adding squeezing a little lemon over the dish instead of unhealthy butter. Not only will you save on calories, you will kick up the flavor a notch.

53. Sauerkraut over potato salad or cole slaw.
Sauerkraut contains live lactobacilli and beneficial microbes that aid in digestion.

The Benefits of Flaxseed

Is flaxseed the new wonder food? Preliminary studies show that it may help fight heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer.

Some call it one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet. There’s some evidence it may help reduce your risk ofc heart diseases, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. That’s quite a tall order for a tiny seed that’s been around for centuries.

Flaxseed was cultivated in Babylon as early as 3000 BC. In the 8th century, King Charlemagne believed so strongly in the health benefits of flaxseed that he passed laws requiring his subjects to consume it.  Now, thirteen centuries later, some experts say we have preliminary research to back up what Charlemagne suspected.

flax seed


Flaxseed is found in all kinds of today’s foods from crackers to frozen waffles to oatmeal. The Flax Council estimates close to 300 new flax-based products were launched in the U.S. and Canada in 2010 alone. Not only has consumer demand for flaxseed grown, agricultural use has also increased.  Flaxseed is what’s used to feed all those chickens that are laying eggs with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Although flaxseed contains all sorts of healthy components, it owes its primary healthy reputation to three of them:

  • Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of plant omega-3s.
  • Lignans, which have both plant estrogen and antioxidant qualities. Flaxseed contains 75 to 800 times more lignans than other plant foods.
  • Fiber. Flaxseed contains both the soluble and insoluble types.


 The Health Benefits of Flax

Although Lilian Thompson, PhD, an internationally known flaxseed researcher from the University of Toronto, says she wouldn’t call any of the health benefits of flax “conclusively established,” research indicates that flax may reduce risks of certain cancers as well as cardiovascular disease and lung disease.


Recent studies have suggested that flaxseed may have a protective effect against breast cancer, prostate cancer, and colon cancer. At least two of the components in flaxseed seem to contribute, says Kelley C. Fitzpatrick, director of health and nutrition with the Flax Council of Canada.

In animal studies, the plant omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed, called ALA, inhibited tumor incidence and growth.

The lignans in flaxseed may provide some protection against cancers that are sensitive to hormones without interfering with the breast cancer drug tamoxifen. Thompson says some studies have suggested that exposure to lignans during adolescence helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and may also increase the survival of breast cancer patients.

Lignans may help protect against cancer by blocking enzymes that are involved in hormone metabolism and interfering with the growth and spread of tumor cells.

Some of the other components in flaxseed also have antioxidant properties, which may contribute to protection against cancer and heart disease.