This nutritious vegan quinoa protein bowl packs more than twenty grams of plant protein! Ready in under thirty minutes, it’s as nutrient dense as it is filling and flavorful.
I’m so excited to share this hearty quinoa protein bowl with you.
But first, a little back story. Recently, when I shared my new recipe for hemp hummus, my reader Hannah made a good observation: “It sort of annoys me that so much of the media touts hummus as a high protein ‘food,’ when it really has only 2 grams per 2 T serving, but this? This is this is the real deal.”
It’s true! There’s a lot of mixed information in media about the best vegan protein sources. It can be difficult to know what a quality plant-based protein is. Also, it’s hard for many of us to judge the appropriate portion sizes of these foods. Most of all, many eaters, even those who are nutrition savvy, wonder how much protein they ought to be getting in the first place.
The answer to this question is less straightforward than you might think.
We have recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for a number of nutrients. RDAs are issued by the the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. They’re levels of intake that are estimated to be sufficient for “nearly all (that’s 97-98%) healthy people.”
You may have come across RDAs for iron, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and more.
For protein, the Food and Nutrition Board issues what’s called an Adequate Intake, or AI. AIs are used when we don’t have sufficient evidence to create an RDA, but we’re able to establish a level that’s assumed to be adequate for most people.
The AI for protein among adults is 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.
Plant protein can be slightly more difficult to absorb than animal protein. So, some vegan dietitians suggest getting 0.9 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight.
This comes to about 0.41 grams per pound. For a 150-pound woman, this would mean about 61.5 grams daily. This post offers a little more detail on the AI and on protein ounce equivalents, which are used in the USDA’s Choose My Plate planning tool.
I’m asked less often about meeting protein needs on a vegan diet than I used to be. I think that this is an indication of greater awareness around plant-based eating patterns. The perception of vegan diets as being inherently difficult or lacking, which was never true, is lessening with time.
Even so, protein is an important nutrient. And while deficiency is rare in the context of a calorically adequate diet, it’s possible for a person to get an amount of protein that’s insufficient to meet his or her needs.
In my practice as a dietitian, I’ve worked with new and longtime vegan clients who aren’t getting enough protein. Insufficient protein intake might show up as fatigue, low immunity, slow wound repair, or difficulty maintaining muscle mass.
Increasing protein intake in these cases doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s just a matter of giving some thought to meal planning, focusing on protein-rich foods, and enjoying recipes that deliver on protein often. This quinoa protein bowl is a good one—and for the record, it delivers about 24 grams.
So, given this recommendation, what are the best high-protein foods for vegans?
I consider any food with about ten or more grams of protein per serving to be a high-protein vegan food. Fifteen or twenty grams per serving is even better, but ten is impactful.
Here are some of the plant-based protein sources that I commonly recommend to my clients:
As you can see, there are plenty of options. But this list isn’t comprehensive.
Many other vegan foods have some protein, including vegetables, grains, and nuts. If you eat a generous enough portion of any of these foods, you’ll get a decent amount of protein.
The only consideration I’d offer is that some foods require a large serving to amount to ten grams of protein or more. And large serving sizes may or may not be appropriate, depending on a person’s unique health needs.
Take nuts, for example.
A typical serving of almonds is about 1 ounce (24-28 nuts). That ounce contains six grams of protein, along with around 160 calories and about fourteen grams of fat. You’d need about an ounce and a half to amount to ten grams of protein.
This could be appropriate energy density for some people. But others might want to seek out protein sources that offer more protein with less energy density.
On the other hand, it would take about four cups of broccoli to equal ten grams of protein. Four cups of broccoli (or other vegetables) is a lot of fiber—more than some people can comfortably digest.
I like tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, quinoa, and hemp seeds because they offer good amounts of protein within reasonable portion sizes.
But enough talk. Because most of us think in terms of food, not abstract numbers, I think it’s best to talk about protein by homing in on high-protein vegan recipes.
For instance, my protein-packed, three bean salad packs in 15 grams of protein per serving.
Here are some of my other favorite, high-protein vegan recipes:
If none of those options appeal, give this quinoa protein bowl recipe a try.
This recipe came together for the same client I made my hemp hummus recipe for. As soon as I tasted it, I was was happy, and I plan to repeat it often. I love the creamy texture, the many nutrient-dense ingredients, and the savory sauce.
It’s a fast, easy weekday dinner, too.
Hope you’ll find this recipe to be tasty, nourishing, and practical!