“Protein is a macro nutrient necessary for the proper growth and function of the human body. There is considerable debate over the amount of protein a person needs to consume per day, the current recommended daily intake (RDI) for protein is 46 grams for women aged 19-70, and 56 grams for men aged 19-70. Any excess protein is turned into energy by the body, and it is controversial whether this excess protein causes a strain on the liver. A deficiency in protein leads to muscle atrophy, and impaired functioning of the human body in general. High protein foods include meat, fish, cheese, tofu, beans, lentils, yogurt, eggs, nuts, and seeds.”
There’s a huge protein debate going on in the health world on vegetarian diets, and here’s the bottom lines:
– You can absolutely get all the nutrients your body needs to thrive, without consuming meat.
– You can still eat meat, and be a good person and be healthy.
Mini Margherita Quinoa Frittatas (with Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, and Mozzarella)
Quinoa is the world’s most popular superfood. Not only is it packed with protein, it’s a complete protein and a fantastic wheat-free alternative. Add to that the protein in the mozarella and you’ve got yourself a powerful dish!
Notes from the Chef:
Thanks to a good bit of cooked quinoa mixed right in, they have a bit of a fluffy consistency. And compliments of the cheese, there’s a bit of an ooey-gooey meltiness going on. The basil adds a bit of freshness and the cherry tomato not only makes me smile, but it also kind of reminds me of the middle of the cinnamon roll. The best part is in the center – and I like to save it for last.
I highly recommend using both paper liners AND non-stick spray or an oil mister, otherwise you could be spending days scrubbing egg off your muffin tin.
If you freeze them (and I highly recommend them for freezing!), just place them in a single layer in a gallon size zip bag and plop them in the freezer. Then pull one or two out at a time, microwave for about a minute and a half on high, and, voila! Instant awesome breakfast.
- Makes: 12 mini frittatas
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 5 large eggs
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, minced
- 1/2 cup minced onion
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 12 cherry tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a 12-cup, standard-size muffin tin with liners and grease well with non-stick cooking spray or an oil mister.
- In a large bowl, mix together the quinoa, eggs, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, basil, onion, salt, and pepper until all ingredients are well-incorporated.
- Divide mixture equally between muffin tins (I use an ice cream scoop).
- Sprinkle each with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses. Push a cherry tomato about halfway into the top of each.
- Bake for about 20 minutes until egg is set and frittatas are golden around the edges.
Lentil & Vegetable Stew with Cauliflower White Bean Puree
Lentils have been part of the human diet since aceramic Neolithic times, being one of the first crops domesticated in the Near East. Archeological evidence shows they were eaten 9,500 to 13,000 years ago! A rich provider of protein and carbohydrates the lentil is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, iron and B vitamins.
Notes from the Chef:
This stew is made with lentils (obviously), onion, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, vegetable broth, plenty of seasonings, and a splash of red wine for good measure. So you’re getting a ton of vitamins, fibre, and protein to fill you up and keep you energised through the day or night. I love using lentils in meals because they’re a great source of protein, they’re easy to cook, and they’re really cheap!
And to make this even more of a protein power bowl, I pureed white beans with cauliflower to serve as the base for the stew. Steaming and pureeing cauliflower is one of my favourite ways to eat it and I honestly like it even better than regular mashed potatoes. Sometimes I’ll puree cauliflower with chickpeas or white beans and some flavourful mustard and just eat that for dinner on its own, but it goes even better with a hearty stew on top!
Makes about 4 servings
For the Lentil Stew:
- 1 cup dry green or brown lentils
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 lb (two 8oz containers) white or crimini mushrooms, chopped (around 2.5 cups)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce (use vegetarian Worcestershire sauce to keep this vegetarian/vegan)
- Salt and pepper
For the Cauliflower:
- 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
- Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add lentils, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer uncovered for 20-30 minutes, until cooked through and water is absorbed. Set aside when done.
- Meanwhile, in a separate large saucepan or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic, and dry seasonings (cumin through thyme), stir, and let cook for around 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add tomato paste, stir to coat, and let cook for about a minute. Add cornstarch, stir to coat, and cook for another minute. Add red wine and let simmer for about 3 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bay leaves and lower heat to a simmer. Add lentils and let simmer for at least 5 minutes.
- Remove bay leaves, stir in Worcestershire sauce, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- While your lentil stew is simmering, prepare the cauliflower bean mash. Add cauliflower and garlic to a steamer basket and steam over boiling water, covered, for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor, add white beans, and process until smooth. Slowly add olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
- Serve lentil stew warm over pureed cauliflower. Garnish with chopped parsley if desired.
Crispy Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream
Protein in the Quinoa and protein in the cashew cream make this delicious dish a brilliant meat alternative.
Notes from the Chef:
I just adore quinoa; it’s good for you, easy to cook with, and it’s downright tasty. Quinoa is such a versatile ingredient that no pantry is really complete without it. Quinoa can be milled into flour for gluten-free baking, baked up into big batches of crispy granola, or formed into delectable little cakes like these. I have served these cakes on gluten-free buns like burgers and simply on their own as a main dish with a side of roasted veggies. Either way they are delicious!
Make about 1 cup of dried quinoa according to package instructions to get 2 1/2 cups cooked.
I cook my patties in a cast iron skillet on medium-low. If you see that your patties are not browning after the first side has cooked for 10 minutes crank up the heat on your stove a bit and continue to cook the patties until they are browned.
You can serve these Crispy Quinoa Cakes with a number of different sauces; if you’re short on time, a good jarred marinara will definitely work, but I love using this Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream. If you have leftovers, it makes a tasty veggie dip or sandwich spread!
- Makes: 4 – 6 servings
- Prep time: 20 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- Total time: 40 minutes
- 2 1/2 cups cooked white quinoa, at room temperature
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
- 1/2 cup finely minced red onion
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/2 cup bread crumbs (since I cook gluten-free, I made my bread crumbs by pulsing an Udi’s bagel in the food processor)
- Olive oil or clarified butter for coating pan
- In a large bowl combine the quinoa, eggs, and salt; stir to mix well. Add the basil, red onion, cheese, garlic, and breadcrumbs to the bowl; stir, then let the mixture sit for a few minutes so that the bread crumbs can absorb some of the moisture. If your mixture is too wet you can add a little more breadcrumbs at this point and if it is too dry add a small amount of water.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil or clarified butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium-low heat.
- Form the mixture into 12 small patties; when the oil is hot place enough patties in the skillet so that it is full, but the patties still have room in between them. Cover, and cook for 7-10 minutes, until the bottoms are crisp and deeply browned. Carefully flip the patties with a spatula and cook the second side for about 7 minutes more.
- Remove from the skillet and cool on a wire rack while you cook the remaining patties.
Roasted Red Pepper Cashew Cream
- 1 1/2 cups raw cashews, soaked in water for 30 minutes and drained
- 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeds and skin removed (from a jar is fine)
- 3/4 cup filtered water
- 1 small clove of garlic
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 3/4 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
Add all of the ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend on high, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary. Blend until the cashew cream is smooth and silky with no chunks. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
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