This Vegetarian Month, our friend Noelle Martin has been sharing her best vegetarian cooking tips and recipe inspiration with her followers, so we decided to compile them all into one information-packed article.
As a Registered Dietitian and Mom of 3, Noelle is passionate about educating, inspiring, and supporting others to make the healthiest choices possible with the resources available to them. Keep reading to discover some of her best vegetarian cooking tips and recipe ideas that will help you and your family introduce more plant-based foods into your diets.
Plant-based Powerhouse Foods
When choosing plant-based protein sources you must pay attention to if they are a “complete” source of protein or not. This means, “Do they contain all 9 essential amino acids or are they missing one?”. While there are 20 amino acids in total, the body cannot make 9 of them, which means they must come from food or supplements. In light of this we can choose “complete” plant proteins, but we can also enjoy “complementary proteins”. This is a form of food pairing where two plant-based protein sources complement or complete each other.
So, what are the complete protein sources and how can you find complementary ones? Let me explain…
Complete proteins: Quinoa, soy, amarynth, pumpkin seeds, yellow peas, chia seeds, hemp hearts, amaranth, and buckwheat.
Complementary proteins: Beans, lentils, legumes, nuts, and seeds are missing one essential amino acid. Grains are missing a different one. So when you enjoy beans and rice or toast with nut butter, you are enjoying a complete protein.
Here are a few recipes you can try that offer sources of complete and complementary proteins.
For quinoa-rich meals, check out my quinoa recipe round-up!
In addition to amino acids, seeds offer a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and several minerals. They are perfect as a snack on their own or for adding crunch to a salad, oatmeal, or yogurt. If you have a nut allergy in your family, seed butters may provide you with a perfect alternative to nut butters. Pumpkin seed butter and SunButter are definitely crowd favorites!
Soy is a source of complete protein but has been more of a controversial food over the past few years. You can read my latest research findings on the topic of soy here. Bottom line: moderation is best, and unprocessed soy is superior to processed. In light of that, here is a delicious recipe that includes edamame!
Cheesy Edamame and Parsley Pasta
Prep time: 15 minutes / Serves 4
- ½ cup diced NatureFresh Farms Bell Peppers
- 2 cups brown rice spaghetti (cooked)
- ½ cup cashews
- 2 tbsp. nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp. avocado oil
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1.5 cups frozen edamame (thawed)
- 2 cups parsley (finely chopped)
- Wash all produce.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add brown rice spaghetti. Cook according to the directions on the package. Remove from heat, strain and run cold water over pasta to prevent from over-cooking.
- Meanwhile, make your ‘Parmesan’ seasoning by adding Bell Peppers, cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and sea salt to your food processor. Blend well until it reaches a spice-like consistency. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, toss pasta with edamame, chopped parsley, and your desired amount of ‘Parmesan’ seasoning. Divide into bowls and enjoy!
7 Simple Ways to Go More Meatless in Your Home
Adding more plant-based proteins to your diet can help reduce your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, and some types of cancer. It also reduces your ecological “foodprint”. Even adding one meatless meal per week can help! Here are 7 tips for adding more plant-based protein to your diet.
1) Exchange ½ of the ground meat in your favorite chili for more beans.
2) Exchange the beef in your tacos for firm tofu and quinoa.
3) Add hemp hearts and/or pumpkin seeds to your oatmeal.
4) Add silken tofu to your favorite soup recipe.
5) Make a lentil stew in your slow cooker this weekend for quick and easy lunches.
6) Try black bean burgers.
7) Add edamame and/or chickpeas to your favorite salad greens or pasta.
And one final tip is to add crunchy protein rich toppings to your salads – find 9 of my favorite protein-packed salad toppings here!
7-Day Vegetarian Meal Plan
Now that you have gained more knowledge about plant-based superfoods and the benefits of introducing more meatless meals into your diet, check out Noelle’s free 7-day meal plan featuring vegetarian breakfast, lunch, and supper ideas! Along with recipe instructions and ingredients, Noelle shares recipe-specific tips and tricks, including how to properly store recipe leftovers and how to add even more flavor or toppings.