3 Protein-Packed Vegan Meals

by Heidi Kristoffer for SHAPE.com

"Where do you get your protein ?" It's the most common question I get when people find out that I'm a vegan. My answer? There are a zillion ways to incorporate vegan protein into your diet! Between beans, legumes, quinoa, nuts, and so much more, I'm never short on non-animal protein sources. Here are three of my favorite protein-packed vegan meals . They're all super easy to make and perfect for any summer night. Happy eating!

Southwestern saladSouthwestern salad1. Southwestern salad: This salad is perfect for summer-fresh, light, and full of protein, thanks to the quinoa, black beans, vegetables, and tofu from the dressing. Want to beef it up even more? Just add tempeh! Fun fact: Quinoa is one of the most protein-rich foods you can eat, and it's a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving):
2-4 cups chopped romaine lettuce or leafy green of choice
1 serving red quinoa cooked and chilled (1/4 cup dry)
½ cup black beans
½ cup corn
½ cup jicama, sliced
½ cup red pepper, chopped
1 small tomato, chopped
2 Tbsp red onion, diced
Optional: barbeque tempeh or tempeh bacon and/or avocado slices and/or pumpkin seeds

For the dressing (use as much as you like and save the rest for later!):
1/4 of a 10oz container of soft silken tofu, drained
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tsp minced garlic
½ tsp mustard
½ tsp cider vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions: Put all of the salad ingredients in a bowl, blend up the dressing ingredients in a food processor, use it to top the salad, and enjoy!

Mediterranean tempeh hummus saladMediterranean tempeh hummus salad2. Mediterranean tempeh hummus salad: Easy, quick, and delicious, this salad is one of my favorite "no-time-to-cook" stand-bys. It fills you up with protein from tempeh and hummus, and it leaves nothing to be desired on the flavor front!

Ingredients (Makes 1 serving):
2-4 cups mixed greens
3 slices of tempeh bacon, cooked per package instructions and chopped
4 Tbsp hummus
4 black olives , pitted and chopped
1 Tbsp red onion, chopped
1 small tomato, diced
½ small cucumber, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Place all ingredients except for the hummus in a bowl with lid, shake well. Add the hummus on top, and enjoy!

Cuban plateCuban plate3. Cuban plate: I love plantains, but they are always served deep fried, which never sits well with my stomach. Here, oven baked plantains are equally as delicious as their fried counterparts, and are paired perfectly with protein-packed lime-cilantro beans and quinoa; heart healthy guacamole completes it all!

Ingredients (Makes 2 servings):
2 ripe yellow plantains
1 can kidney or pink beans, drained and rinsed
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp cilantro (more if you're making guacamole)
½ onion chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp vegan margarine
½ cup dry red quinoa, cooked according to package directions

For the guacamole (Slightly altered from my Aunt Kari, the queen of avocados, to make plenty for this plate and for leftovers. Because everyone loves guacamole!):
2 ripe avocados, diced and lightly mashed with a fork
1 small tomato, diced
1/3 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp diced cilantro
Juice ¼ lime
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: To prepare the guacamole, mix all of the ingredients together, and then cover and place in the refrigerator at least an hour before serving. Meanwhile, in a small pot, heat margarine on medium heat, and add onion and garlic. Sauté until caramelized, and then mix in the beans, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. While the beans are simmering, turn the broiler on high, chop the plantains into chip-like slices, and lay them flat on a cookie sheet. Lightly salt and then broil for about 3 minutes on each side or until lightly crisped. To plate: Start with the quinoa, top with beans, and serve plantains and guacamole on the side. Enjoy!

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