High Protein Vegan Stuff

My friend recently went pescatarian, which is dope, buuuut she said she wasn't feeling great and needed some more protein because she's new to it and so I stepped up and offered to share some recipes because why not? What woman with a five-month old doesn't want to do it all?

Seriously though, my husband works landscaping and has always needed a ton of protein for lunch. Also, when I was prego I ate a ton of protein because ya know, growing a human takes some serious nutrition. So I feel like I have a lot of high protein stuff in my repertoire. I'm also really lazy so these are seriously some of the easiest things to make when you just don't have four hours to meal prep.

Some dirty tricks for sneaking more protein in are to keep a lot of high-protein non-dairy milks around. Also, I like to blend a block of tofu into my tomato sauce whenever I make pasta.

Also, you have to make sure you're getting all your amino chains along with the protein. I normally add a dash of Liquid Aminos to whatever I'm cooking just for extra savory flavor. I also sprinkle everything with hemp seeds because they're a complete amino change. Finally, don't forget to supplement B12. Meat eaters only get it because it's also added to the feed for livestock but really everyone should do this because it's a difficult vitamin to absorb.

OKAY! So here is my lazy girl's guide to eating a ton of plant-based protein because, duh, it's great:

Breakfast Options:

Green Monster Smoothie with Spirulina (25-30g):
Protein here just depends on how much of each ingredient you add. I like to have my green monster with Bolthouse, which has about 10g of protein per cup anyway, so mine usually has 30+ grams of protein in it. I blend: nondairy milk, kale or spinach, peanut butter, hemp seeds, flax and/or chia seeds, protein powder (mine is for breastfeeding and has a chocolate flavor but any kind works), and spirulina.

Chia Seed Pudding with Bolthouse Protein (25g):
Mix 3 tablespoons of chia seeds for every 1 cup of Bolthouse milk. Add in a generous amount of maple syrup and some vanilla or almond extract. If you're fancy you can also add in some coconut shreds but typically I keep the base simple and get fancy with toppings. My favorite toppings are brown rice syrup, bananas, walnuts, and hemp seeds. It's dessert breakfast!

Tofu Scramble with Tempeh Bacon and Avocado (25g):
Take a block of tofu and get it sauteing with some oil. Add garlic salt, pepper, cumin, nutritional yeast, and turmeric according to taste. I like a lot of spice so I normally throw some cayenne and some smoked paprika in there as well. Be patient and let your tofu get a little crispy on the bottom before you move it around with your spatula. Less is more here. I use Hot for Food's tempeh bacon marinade and make it in massive batches because we eat it on everything. Add a couple strips and then top with Avocado and sriracha if you can stand the heat.

Do You Even Oatmeal Bro? with Seeds (40g):
My oatmeal love is serious. I chop up dates because they're good protein and sweet without being sugary, lots of seeds (hemp, flax, and chia) for crunch-factor, more frozen or dried fruit depending on what I want that day, and a lot of walnuts or pecans. I top the whole thing with maple syrup or some sweet non-dairy creamer. I honestly eat this as much as possible because it's the one breakfast that can subdue breastfeeding hunger and also contributes to supply. Fun facts.

Blender Muffins with Seedy Spread (20g):
I just started making these muffins from Pass the Plants recipe and it's now one of my big meal prep items. I've added mini vegan chocolate chips, frozen blueberries, almonds, and these suckers are just so dang adaptable I'm hooked. Did I mention they're also blender muffins and take literally 5 minutes to prep? Plus, Aaron can grab a big container of them and eat them throughout the day and I can snack on them when I get home from work while feeding the baby. WIN WIN. To make these a high-protein meal, I slather these with the seedy peanut or almond butter spread I mentioned in the intro section.

Lunch Options:

Couscous & Red Lentil Curry (24g):
Saute ginger, onions, garlic, and peppers (any kind) then add your red lentils and veg broth ratio as directed on the package. Once the lentils are about halfway done, throw in as much red curry (make sure it's vegan) as you can and about a 1/2 c of tomato sauce for every 2 cups of lentils. (You want it to be like a spread more than a soup consistency.) Squeeze some lemon if you got it and adjust to taste. Slather that red goodness on pita or over couscous but don't forget the fresh cilantro!

Rajma with Hummus & Pita (43g):
Kidney beans, hemp seeds, jalapeno, onion, tomato, red pepper, carrots, vinegar, garlic, lemon juice. Throw that on a pita with chopped spinach a ton of hummus.

Smoked Tempeh Sammies (31g):
This is my jam. I like to make the Thug Kitchen recipe and then throw this on some sprouted bread from La Baguette, our local bakery. I always double the carrots because I'm in love with them and then top with avocado/guac and spinach. As an alternative, you can also rock this Korean Barbecue version from Connoisseurus Veg.

Ethiopian Lentil Salad (18g):
Also my jam from way back. Cooked lentils (cold), jalapenos, hemp seeds, tomatoes, red onions. Mix the dressing with black pepper, salt, dijon mustard, lemon or lime juice, and olive oil. (I normally add garlic too because Aaron is addicted to it.) Side bar: This is super spicy and I eat it with a spoon but I know that's weird so I recommend quinoa because that ups the protein by about 8g and mingles with the dressing really well.

Spring Buddha Bowl (varies):
Buddha Bowls are kind of the bomb because you just take a grain, a protein, and a green and pour sauce on it. Fin. It's like a burrito bowl but with infinity combinations.

My current favorite is stir fried veggies (broccoli and brussel sprouts are high protein), brown rice or quinoa, chopped green onions, whole block of fried or baked tofu tossed with a ton of sauce (sauce is rice wine vinegar, liquid aminos, sriracha, pepper, garlic, ginger, and maple syrup). Top it off with a bunch of sesame seeds so it's cruuuuunchy.

Southwestern Power Salad (22g):
This is my favorite salad ever. (I know. Strong words.) I follow the Cookie + Kate recipe but I always add way more seeds than she says and typically I play that avocado dressing recipe by ear.

Dinner Options:

Tofu Ricotta Stuffed Shells (27g):
I actually did a post on this one! You can make this even simpler by skipping the cashew cheese part and just chopping up a ton of basil, adding lemon juice and garlic, and crumbling the tofu with your hands until it hits the right texture but for a real upscale experience follow the original here. 

Tempeh Peanut Noodles (63g):
Another from the Thug Kitchen. Another side bar: I kind of think the name is pejorative but the food is damn delicious ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Also, if you like the peanut tempeh thing, check out this Marinated Peanut Tempeh from Minimalist Baker.

Seitan Ribs and Shrooms (50g):
This is a Gaz Oakley (Aaron calls him Jazz Oakleaf) recipe for super delicious ribs with a LOT of protein. I really love his seitan ribs but I'm too lazy to make them. Normally our friend Justin makes a big batch and then brings us some because he's a literal angel.

Popcorn Tofu and Broccoli (25g):
This is the easiest of the bunch because you can actually buy tofu pre-cubed and get frozen broccoli and then be a real garbage human and just dump barbecue sauce on the tofu and shovel both into your face really fast in front of the television. Not that I know anyone who does that...anyway. Get about a cup of breadcrumbs and a half cup of flour, throw about a quarter cup of nutrional yeast in there, some garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika. Then lightly coat your tofu cubes in vegannaise and toss it in the dry mixture. Put them on a baking sheet in the oven at 425 degrees for around 35 minutes until they're nice and crispy.

Quinoa Cakes with Sweet Potato Fries (10g):
I admit to being skeptical about this recipe from Oh She Glows but these were so good I almost couldn't bring myself to freeze them. I made these so I could have food while I was in the hospital and even though they're only 10g per cake, you end up eating like six of them so they still count as a high-protein meal. Definitely recommend!

Veggie Chili Dogs/Burgers (15-30g):
This is pretty much the ultimate in laziness and definitely doesn't count as a healthy meal. Still, it's super high protein! I recommend using the Lightlife Smart Dogs or investing in some Beyond Burgers. I always use Amy's Chili because it's vegan and actually delicious even though it's canned. Again, this isn't a healthy meal, per say, but it's less fat than the meat-eater's version and it takes literally 10 minutes from start to finish. 

Lentil Stew (18g):
This is so easy. I get a bag of lentils, 4 or 5 quarts of water, and some veg bouillon going on the stove. While I'm waiting for the lentils to cook, I saute onions and garlic and add that to the broth with a bay leaf and plenty of salt and pepper. Dice up some carrots and potatoes and add them to the pot. Once the carrots and potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes after you add them to the soup) you're ready to eat! Incredible leftovers and super cozy for a snow day.

*All protein totals are approximate and based on a 1 cup serving.

Super Quick Easy Vegan Stuff

A friend of mine from college recently found out that he has high cholesterol and blood pressure and his doctors put him on some medication for both. He's only 30 so...not great news.

I guess sometimes it takes a doctor's recommendation to help us make a change.

I know he doesn't want to buy a bunch of specialty ingredients and he needed to do mostly whole foods to help make a change. I thought about it for about two weeks after he called me and came up with a few easy options that he can use to get started.

Here is my round up of the incredibly easy, healthy(ish) meals I suggested for my friend:

Starter Staples

Nacho Cheese Sauce: Use the Hot for Food recipe because it's the only one that tastes right

Mushroom and Walnut Meat: Get a pack of baby bellas and an equal amount of walnuts (like two cups). Pour boiling water over both of them, let them sit for about 10 m, drain them, and then pulse them in the food processor with about 2 TB of Liquid Aminos (I use Braggs), some cumin, some garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It normally only takes two or three pulses to get it right.

**Note: You're going to use these in a LOT of the recipes below so make a bunch of it. I typically do this in a few batches. Both of these staples are pretty adaptable so I would just go for broke.


Killer Skillet

Dice up a bunch of onions, peppers, and potatoes (you can totally use frozen hashbrowns too if you're lazy) and throw them in a cast iron or non-stick pan with a swirl or two of olive oil. Once the onions are a little translucent, drain a container of tofu and then crumble it over the top of the onions, etc. Add garlic salt, onion salt (if you have it), turmeric, salt and pepper, smoked paprika, a bunch of cumin, and sriracha to taste. You can also add some chipotles in instead but that's only if you want some serious spice. Let it cook without stirring it for about 5 minutes. This lets the tofu get a nice fry on it and keeps it from sticking to the pan. Stir it up and let it cook on the other side too. This is also great to pour cheese sauce on, but it's a personal preference thing.

Biscuits and Gravy

Add a ton of black pepper to about a cup of unsweetened soy milk. Melt a stick of vegan butter in the milk and start whisking in some flour. Typically it takes about a quarter to a half cup of flour to thicken it up. Set aside until your biscuits are done (I use Miyoko's recipe for pancakes/biscuits) and then pour the gravy over the biscuits and top with your mushroom and walnut meat. If you want to get really fancy you can add a dash of liquid smoke in the gravy and that really kicks it up a notch for flavor.


SAT (Spinach, Avocado, and Tempeh/Tofu) Wraps/Sammies

Tempeh is my favorite but this works with tofu too. Use the Hot for Food bacon marinade (sub out the soy for the aminos). Then just fry up the tempeh or tofu when you're ready to jam. I use a lil veganaise or dijon on my sammies but the avocado is good by itself too. If you're not into waiting until the perfect time for the avocado to ripen or it stresses you out to buy them (they're so 'spensive!), just use some guacamole and call it a day. I typically use wraps but it's up to you!

**As a bonus, you can make a ton of the tempeh/tofu bacon at once. Then make avocado/guacamole toast and throw a few pieces on the top for brekkie. It's the bomb.com.

Chili Mac and Cheese

This is the easiest lunch in history if you've already pre-made your cheese sauce and your mushroom and walnut meat. Boil the pasta, top with the cheese sauce. Then take your mushroom and walnut meat and add a can of rinsed and drained kidney beans. Season it up with some chili powder, cumin, garlic salt, and some sriracha if you want. Put the chili on top of the mac and cheese or vice versa.


Cottage Pie

This is a big go-to for me because I love mushrooms and gravy. I don't actually recommend using the mushroom and walnut meat for this but you definitely could. I use lentils because they're super high in iron and that's dope. So, whatever's clever.

Onions, garlic, and mushrooms in the pan with some oil. Saute until the onions are soft and then add in some lentils and about a cup of vegetable broth or water. Add a dash of the liquid aminos too. Once the lentils are cooked, add in about a quarter cup of flour gradually to thicken it up.

Meanwhile, dice up about 4 small potatoes and boil them for 15 minutes. Strain and then mash them with a stand mixer or a fork using plenty of butter or milk (whichever you prefer). 

Once your lentils are done you can start building your pie. I use frozen vegetables and just heat them up really quick or just mix them straight in but you can layer them in on the bottom of a casserole dish if you're fancy. Start with the veg, then pour the onions, mushrooms, and lentils over the top and slather on your mashed potatoes. Salt and pepper the top and stick it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes on 350F or so.


Peppers, onions, and garlic go in the pan. Season them with some chipotles or a bunch of cumin. Add in two cans of black beans and then a sizable portion of your mushroom and walnut meat. Stir it around and add in some chili powder, a lil bit of smoked paprika, and some salt and pepper if you're into that.

For enchiladas, just buy some sauce, put about half of it in the pan, and roll the mixture up in tortillas, and pour the rest of the sauce over the top. Bake at 350F or so for about 30-35 minutes and then eat with tons of nacho cheese and hot sauce.

For tacos, dice up a few tomatoes or get some salsa. Chop up a bunch of spinach or romaine for toppings. Then load up your tacos and pour on the nacho cheese and hot sauce.

That Mom Life

I dropped off the planet last year because I became a mom. I kept meaning to come back and talk about things like prenatals, vegan pregnancy, and nutrition but I got caught up in the preparations, maternity leave, and morning sickness.

Here is my round up of the vegan pregnancy essentials. These are the things that got me through and I hope they will help someone else, too:

  1. Earth Mama’s 100% Organic Morning Wellness Tea My husband would brew me a cup of this every morning to drink before I got out of bed.
  2. Angela Liddon’s Prenatals Post  I didn’t take all of the supplements she listed here because my bloodwork for calcium and iron were already optimal. I did, however, take the omega, the D3, and the B12. All of these were recommended by my midwife as well.
  3. The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book I read this to back up what I learned in my other book and to get some great healthy recipes.
  4. Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide This was the book I referred to the most. It gave some basic nutrition advice and had some good information about how to prep for labor.
  5. The Bump App This app was the most interesting to use just to see how things were progressing and what I could expect that week.

I also looked at a lot of medical studies. For example, did you know black licorice can be harmful for baby’s development? There was a small study in Finland that found it could cause learning disabilities later on. I also learned about the importance of choline. Of course, one of the best sources of choline is in eggs, but I managed to get enough with my Baby and Me 2 prenatal and snacking on edamame or pepitas. I wish I had found out about dates sooner though, since I only started eating them about a week before my due date.

Anyway, there is my obligatory I was a pregnant vegan post! My doctors were really supportive of the vegan diet but I got a lot of unsolicited advice from people outside of the medical profession. It made me really self-conscious, to the point where I requested a dietician, just to be safe. My midwife asked me why I wanted a dietician, since my bloodwork was fantastic and my weight gain was perfectly on track. When I told her why, her response was perfect: “People need to mind their business.” That’s right, random coworker, my doctor said to shut up. 

Flowers of Evil

What pairing could be more perfect for Valentine's Day than poetry and flowers? Of course, the flowers here are all from my favorite garden in Pennsylvania, Longwood Gardens. My husband and I traveled to the lush conservatory on a remarkably lovely and bleak February day to enjoy the "soft humidity of plants." Naturally, I brought along my brand new translation of Fleurs du Mal.

The moody Symbolisme francais hardly embodies the stereotype of love poetry-- but then who cares? I like moody poetry, especially in translation, and the smell of petrichor on a rainy day. I'd rather read Baudelaire in a downpour than Rupi Kaur in the sunshine.

Transcendentalists may rapture to the beauties of nature, and I with them, but Baudelaire lives in a world apart-- the lush velvet and rich golds of civilization. For me, the beauty lies in the contrast between the two. "The spear is as beautiful in the throwing as the shield in the act of blocking it" or whatever. One deepens my appreciation of the other.

I first encountered Baudelaire as a translation assignment in my senior year of high school. I was preparing to take a subject test in French, so my instructor assigned me Baudelaire for practice.

Baudelaire’s poetry illustrates the infinite nuance of the French language; it challenges translators to retain all the grandiose ennui implied by the poet. As someone who has wrestled with the language, I recommend the Edna St. Vincent Millay and George Dillion translation. Not only are the translations top notch, but Millay's preface is intelligent and humorous.

Whether you find flowers evil or lovely, I hope you all enjoy your Valentine's Day. Love all things the way you want to love them, in spite of the saccharine holiday vibes.

I Capture the Castle

(the essentially nostalgic "ham" sandwich)
Although rarely simple, growing up defines our perspectives in ways we unravel for the rest of our lives. But sometimes, some strange compulsion causes us to nostalgically look back on the angst of our teenage selves-- or is it just me? Even though I would never wish myself a teenager again, I find myself revisiting old diaries, movies, and books and enjoying them all over again now.

Somehow, however, I missed Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle as a teenager (too busy with The Bell Jar and the like, I suppose. Still, I truly enjoyed reading about the awakening of intellect, possibility, and love that completely alters the young Cassandra and the ways in which destiny shapes the lives of those within her small sphere. Even without the main and subplots, all of the dialogs on art and the nature of it’s creation, the meaning of life and love, and the necessarily complicated interactions with family enriched the book as much as the descriptions of the English countryside.  

(suggested pairing)
While reading I Capture the Castle inspired me to bring out the Bach I’d been neglecting on the piano, there was also a great deal of focus on ham. I admit, I despaired of a vegan version of the simple ham sandwich, but as the narrator Cassandra would agree, the heart wants what the heart wants. Although a number of excellent seitan ham recipes exist, I rarely make the time for seitan.

Therefore, here is my suggestion (recipe?) for a simple, grocery-store vegan ham sandwich:

Field Roast Smoked Tomato Deli Slices
Daiya Swiss Style Slices
Whole Grain Mustard
French or Homemade Rye Bread
Dill Pickles (or relish, if you prefer)

1. Layer ingredients.
2. Devour (with relish).

Pasta Panache

How many actresses can claim the life Audrey Hepburn led? In addition to surviving German occupation and working with the resistance, she was a ballerina and a humanitarian. Her biography demonstrates the power of persistence as well as the benefit of an education rich in literature and art.

Colette, one of my favorite French novelists, cast her as the leading lady in a stage adaptation of her novel Gigi, bringing her to the notice of William Wyler. Considering her family's ties to royalty, she certainly provided the élan necessary for a princess in disguise!

Audrey Hepburn & Colette

Her graceful posture and mellifluous voice clearly lent themselves to the illumination of the silver screen, but her perception and philanthropy represent the most refreshing aspect of Audrey Hepburn's personality, evidenced in full in her biography. Learning how she rose to fame and what she chose to do with it once she found it is well worth the read.

After finishing the book, Aaron and I watched Charade (my favorite Hepburn film) and devoured a massive bowl of her favorite dish: pasta! A huge fan of the exceedingly simple pasta pomodoro, I thought I would stir up a batch. Somehow, this pasta turned out a bit fancier than I normally prefer, but equally as delicious and certainly more satisfying!

2 veggie sausages
3 tomatoes + 1 c cherry tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion, diced
1/4 c EVOO
1 c pesto
1 pckg angel hair pasta

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut out stem of each tomato and stuff with garlic clove, dress with olive oil and baked for 35-40 minutes until soft and slightly charred.
2. While the tomatoes are cooking, use a swirl of EVOO to sautée the remaining garlic with the onions until translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the sausage and brown for an additional 2 minutes.

3. Cook the pasta according to package directions, adding a bit of salt and some EVOO to help the noodles slide apart.
4. Once the tomatoes have finished roasting, blend them and the pesto together in the food processor.
5. Combine pasta, sausage, and sauce all in a big bowl and serve family-style!

Of course, if you have any pasta sauce on hand, simply skip ahead and use that! The taste of freshly cooked pasta and simple marinara with fresh basil is beyond divine-- it's iconic!

The Birth of Venus

I just started The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant and I'm already in love. Drenched in the same illumination as the gilded period it describes, the novel follows the life of a young girl living in Botticelli's Florence.

The famous painting, featuring the goddess Venus emerging from a shell in all her naked glory, serves more as a symbol than a plot device. In the painting as in the novel, Florence is set as a jewel emerging from the sea-- thus the shell. Obviously, this inspired a craving for shells of my own! While not strictly related to the painting or the book, stuffed shells are a crowd favorite.

The following recipe is adapted from two different recipes. One, Angela Liddon's (Oh She Glows!) stuffed shells and another recipe my dad's girlfriend gave me for an herb cashew cream I always use in my Italian-inspired dishes-- or at least, when I'm not just eating it straight out of the jar:

1 c cashews, soaked for at least an hour
4 TBS nutritional yeast
2 TBS tahini
2 lemons
4 bunches (about 2 c) fresh basil
3 cups fresh spinach
4 cloves of garlic
1 16 oz container of tofu
1 jar of marinara or tomato sauce
1 box jumbo shells
1 package Daiya provolone-style deli cheese slices
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the shells in water and olive oil for about 8 minutes according to the directions. Drain and set aside for filling. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Drain the soaked cashews, reserving about 2 TBS of the water and blend in a food processor with the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper, 1 bunch of the fresh basil (about 1/2 c), 2 cloves of garlic, and the tahini. (Optional: add 1-2 TBS more water for a creamier texture.)
3. Crumble the tofu with your hands until it resembles ricotta. Add 2 cloves of diced garlic, the juice of one lemon, salt and pepper, and 2 bunches of chopped basil. Tear up the spinach into quarter sized pieces and add along with the cashew cream mixture.
4. Spread a quarter cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the baking pan and begin assembling shells. Use a large spoon to stuff each shell with just enough ricotta mixture to fill the shell entirely.
5. Slice the deli slices in half and lay across each shell. Cover the cheese completely with marinara sauce. (This stops the cheese from hardening in the oven and helps it melt so it's nice and gooey!)
6. Cook the stuffed shells for 35-40 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove and garnish with remaining basil and nutritional yeast.

My friends and I really enjoyed these and I hope you do too! May we all emerge beautifully transformed by these mythological shells.

Well-Read Vegan. * BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.