Monday, December 10, 2012

Delicious Vegetarian Proteins (not beans)

The other day, my boyfriend came into the room after talking to his mom on the phone. He told me she was starting to think about holiday cooking, and would like to know more about vegetarian proteins ... other than beans. I felt pretty prepared to comply with this request. While I love beans and find them to be both versatile and delicious, I do try to vary my protein intake. Since she had already considered beans, I used them as my protein exchange.* 

Below is what I sent her, but I would LOVE additional suggestions in the comments! Also, should I do a companion post on beans next week? Beans are so good. 


High protein, easy and delicious: Zucchini quiche made with eggs, low fat mozzarella, and parmesan.
The deal with vegetarian protein is to get a lot of it without overdosing on something else in the process. For instance, four cups of cooked kale, two baked potatoes with skin on, four tablespoons of peanut butter  - 
each of these contain as much protein as a cup of beans, but present other nutritional annoyances. Eating that much kale at once would exhaust my jaw. Two baked potatoes at once sounds like I'd need a carbs nap after, and four tablespoons of peanut butter would be half the daily recommended fat intake, right there.

Here are some protein servings I've found to be reasonable:
  • A serving of two jumbo eggs has about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • A cup of prepared quinoa (a seed that is served like a grain) has about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • A cup of cottage cheese has over four times as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • A serving of four ounces of tofu has about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • A serving of six ounces of Greek yogurt has about one and a half times as much protein as a cup of beans.
Wheat-based carbs:

  • A serving of one and a half cups of spaghetti contains as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • One large plain bagel has about as much protein a cup of beans.
Cheeses: Cottage cheese aside, it is generally true that the harder the cheese, the more protein it contains. The softer the cheese is, the more protein you are trading for fat.
  • A serving of two ounces of Cheddar has about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • It would take four ounces of Ricotta to get that much protein, but
  • only a little over an ounce of hard parmesan cheese to equal the protein in a cup of beans.
  • Cream cheese and Brie, while technically cheeses, are basically nutritionally equivalent to flavored butter. It would take an ENTIRE CUP of cream cheese to equal the protein in a cup of beans.
Fake Meats: If you'd like to go the fake meat route, I enjoy the following:
  • Three little Morningstar Farms sausage links have about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • One Boca burger has about as much protein as a cup of beans.
  • Seitan, kind of high-maintenance to prepare, has tons of protein, too: a four ounce serving has twice as much protein as a cup of beans.
WARNING: Meaty textures without meaty protein:
Mushrooms and eggplant, while they are often served as meat substitutes, have negligible protein contents. It would take seven cups of raw mushrooms or 15 cups of cooked eggplant to approximate the protein content in a cup of beans. I eat them because they are delicious and have other nutritional benefits, but I don't pretend they are high in protein. 

I consulted the following websites' nutrition information in developing these calculations:

*Note: 
  • Beans themselves vary in protein content, from chickpeas at about 12 grams per cup to soy beans and cannellini at about 16 grams per cup. For these calculations I aimed at the middle, but all amounts are approximate.
  • For additional reference, a serving of one and a half ounces of chicken breast has about as much protein as a cup of beans.

2 comments:

  1. Appreciate the quick reference. Mmmm...flavoured butter.

    ReplyDelete