This blog post was written by intern Ashley Fitzgerald
Hi everyone! I am Ashley, an intern at Nourish Family Nutrition. I am sharing two of my favorite recipes with plant-based proteins below. These plant-based sources are great if you don’t eat meat because protein has an important function in the human body. Protein is used by every cell in the body. We use protein for things like building and repairing tissues and making enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals.
Most of these products can be found in local grocery stores. You don’t have to go to Whole Foods to find all of them. If you are looking for the cheapest source of plant-based proteins, check out dry beans and lentils. Canned beans, tofu, and tempeh are also great less expensive options. The meat substitutes will be a bit more costly, but great to splurge on once in a while and for some new flavors, textures, and meals.
Today I wanted to highlight my two favorite plant-based proteins, tofu and tempeh. These are the two I eat most often because they are the easiest to find in any grocery store and some of the cheapest. Tofu is made from soybeans and therefore contains all 9 essential amino acids we need in our diets. Research shows that tofu can help lower the risk of several diseases like cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and breast and prostate cancer. Tofu is a great product to get creative with as you can think of it as a blank slate. Marinating tofu before or during cooking helps the tofu soak up all the flavors. A 3 oz serving of tofu contains 80 calories and 9 grams of protein and is a great source of many nutrients, including iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium.
One thing I like about tofu is it is relatively cheap, especially if you buy it in bulk like at Costco. You can also buy already flavored tofu, like Trader Joe’s baked teriyaki flavor tofu, but it will be a little bit more expensive. Silken tofu is another type which has a texture perfect to add to smoothies, soups, or puddings. Here is one of my favorite easy recipes for tofu:
Tofu Burrito Bowls
- 1 block of extra firm tofu
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ red onion
- ¾ cup salsa
- Juice from 1 lime
- 2 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- Drain the tofu and place it in a pan over medium-high heat. Using a spoon, break it up into pieces. (You can also crumble it with your hands.)
- Heat the tofu until it is slightly browned, stirring occasionally.
- While the tofu is browning, make your sauce in a blender. Combine the red onion, salsa, lime juice, taco seasoning, and cumin powder. Blend until combined.
- Once the tofu is slightly browned, add your black beans and stir.
- Add the sauce, stir, and cook for 10 minutes over low-medium heat.
- Once everything is heated through, serve with rice, guacamole, and roasted vegetables. (My favorite roasted vegetables are roasted green bell peppers and red onion.)
Tempeh is also made from soy, but it is fermented and rich in prebiotics, and has many health benefits. Similar to tofu, tempeh helps reduce the risk for osteoporosis. Tempeh may also reduce cholesterol levels and decrease oxidative stress which leads to a lower risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Tempeh is more calorically dense, and I find it very filling. A 3 oz serving has 16 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber. Tempeh is a great source of many nutrients, including iron, calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. Tempeh can be a bit more expensive than tofu, but at Trader Joe’s the price of tempeh is the same as the tofu. Here is one of my favorite recipes with tempeh:
Tempeh Avocado Sandwich
For the tempeh:
- 1 package of tempeh
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1.5 tbsp vinegar (can use balsamic, apple cider, white, red, or rice vinegar)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Red pepper flakes (optional)
For the sandwich assembly:
- Slice the tempeh in half and boil in a pan of water for 10 minutes. (This will help the tempeh to better soak up the marinade.)
- While the tofu is boiling, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic in a shallow bowl.
- When the tofu is done boiling, place the tempeh in the bowl with the marinade, evenly coat it, and let it marinate for about 30 minutes.
- Bake the tempeh at 400F for 30 minutes.
- Once the tempeh is done, assemble your sandwich with lettuce, avocado, hummus, and mustard or any other of your favorite sandwich ingredients.
- Tofu and tempeh are both very similar. They are both made out of soybeans, but tempeh is fermented so it has more prebiotics and fiber.
- Tempeh is more calorically dense and higher in protein per ounce.
- Both tofu and tempeh consumption can help reduce the risk of several chronic diseases.
- Both tofu and tempeh take on the flavor of whatever you are cooking.
- Both provide similar nutrient profiles, but have different textures.
You can learn more about protein here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/196279.php
You can learn more about tofu here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/278340.php
You can learn more about tempeh here: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/tempeh#section6