When it comes to switching to a plant-based diet, it can seem almost impossible for someone to know where their protein will be coming from since they’re eliminating meat from their diet. Luckily, there is a vast variety of plant-based alternatives to meat. It’s recommended adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. This is equal to about 7 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. Protein intake is not a concern for most meat-eaters and many people exceed minimum protein recommendations. With the increasing popularity of a plant-based diet, alternatives to meat have become more readily available. Plant-based protein examples include tofu, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, quinoa, black beans, tempeh and edamame. Tofu is the most popular because it takes on the flavor of the dish, making it a versatile addition to many meals.

Buffalo Tofu Sandwich

1 block extra firm tofu 2 cups Panko-style bread crumbs 1/2 cup milk Tomato, sliced Buffalo sauce Whole wheat bread Sprouts Preheat oven to 350°F. While oven is preheating, slice tofu into four parts. Press and squeeze water out of tofu. Place plant-based milk in a bowl, and Panko-style crumbs on a plate. Dip tofu into milk and push the crumbs into the tofu. Place tofu on a non-stick baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, flip and cook 15 more. Place buffalo sauce in a bowl, and heat in the microwave. Brush sauce onto the tofu pieces. Place tofu slice on bread, and top with tomato and sprouts.

Black Bean Chili

1/4 cup olive oil 2 cups chopped onion 1-2/3 cups chopped red bell peppers 6 garlic cloves, chopped 2 tablespoons chili powder 2 teaspoons dried oregano 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Three 16-ounce cans black beans drained, 1/2 cup liquid reserved One 16-ounce can tomato sauce Chopped fresh cilantro Sour cream (optional) Grated Monterey jack cheese (optional) Chopped green onions (optional) Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell peppers and garlic; sauté until onions soften, about 10 minutes. Mix in chili powder, oregano, cumin and cayenne; stir 2 minutes. Mix in beans, 1/2 cup reserved Bring chili to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until flavors blend and chili thickens, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Pass chopped cilantro, sour cream, grated cheese and green onions separately. For more information about plant-based alternatives to meat, go to health.clevelandclinic.org/13-of-the-bestvegetarian-and-vegan-proteinsources/ or contact your local registered dietitian.

ASIA TORRY is a senior dietetic student at the University of Tennessee at Martin.

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