Are you an athlete or an active person looking to build muscle? “The High-Protein Vegan Cookbook: 125+ Hearty Plant-Based Recipes” is perfect for you. It offers 129 recipes from soup to nuts that prove you don’t need meat to get your full allotment of protein.

Cover courtesy of The Countryman Press

Author Ginny Kay McMeans, a food blogger (veganinthefreezer.com), writes that to make protein-filled vegan dishes, you need to include a “variety of food in all the colors of the rainbow.” She gives a big shout-out to seitan (made from grains, vegetables and vital wheat gluten), as well as tofu and tempeh (both made from soybeans). But even if your diet or your preference is, like mine, soy-free, you’ll still find plenty of healthful, intriguing recipes.

The cookbook’s handy chart of protein-rich foods for vegans is a fascinating resource. Who knew a half cup of alfalfa sprouts gives you 14 grams of protein? Or that 1 cup of potatoes is good for 4 grams of protein? Mix a cup of peas in your soup, and you’re gaining 8 grams of protein.

McMeans also explains how much protein we need: .5 to 1 gram per pound of body weight each day depending on your goals. So a sedentary person who weighs 130 pounds needs 65 grams of protein a day, she writes, but an athlete who weighs the same really should get 130 grams of protein.

That may sound daunting, but McMeans makes it easy to achieve through a variety of recipes covering many meals and occasions from appetizers, breakfast bites, lunch bowls and sandwiches to protein-packed dinners and desserts. Each recipe has a photo.

With recipes for treats full of peanut butter, bananas, nuts and lentils, the “portable snack” chapter reads like a hiker’s bible. What’s better at the top of a mountain you’ve just climbed than a sweet high-protein treat to refuel you? Come hiking season, I’ll definitely crack open this book for the rich chocolate energy bars (6.5 grams protein) or orange cranberry power cookies (6 grams protein).

My curiosity also will lead me to test if the meat mimics, like the portabella mushroom gyro or the burger lookalike spiced green lentil sandwich, are as good as their meat counterparts. That said, some of the recipes for vegetable sandwiches sound more delicious than your standard ham and cheese. Consider the broccoli and spinach stuffed baguette with “warm gooey cashew cheese” or the loaded chickpea salad sandwich with avocado and baby spinach.

Other recipes look like perfect freeze-and-serve lunches for the office, like the veggie stuffed calzone, or stacked enchilada casserole loaded with sweet potatoes and black beans that McMeans bills as a “quadruple win.”

At our house, we tried the Caribbean Chili. It was too hot for my partner, too hot even for me though I’m known as a “spice girl” to friends. On the plus side, it was ridiculously easy, taking just a half hour to prepare. The chili was loaded with vegetables – tomatoes, carrots, green peppers and corn – as well as 10 different spices, making it not just protein-packed but also flavor-packed.

“The High-Protein Vegan Cookbook” didn’t persuade this deer hunter to give up meat, but it did make a case for my mixing it up with plant-based creations like these.

Caribbean Chili

Recipe from “The High-Protein Vegan Cookbook: 125+ Hearty Plant-Based Recipes.” The dish has 13 grams of protein per serving.
Serves 4

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 onion, diced

1 green pepper, diced

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

2 carrots, diced

5 ounces tomato paste

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 ear corn, kernels cut from the cob

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion and green pepper. Saute until the onion is translucent, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, carrots, tomato paste and 1/2 cup of water. Add the spices and herbs. Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the kidney beans and corn. Cook on a low simmer for another 15 minutes.


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