how to get protein into veg forward meals

how to get protein into veg forward meals

my most most dreaded question of the day is, "what's for dinner?" i know you all can relate to this one. whether you are feeding yourself, your family or friends after a long day of work, simply putting together a meal can feel like the trickiest and most annoying part of the day. i get it. even though i cook for a living, i still find the dinner question exhausting.

since having our second kid it almost feels like i can't grasp time and there just aren't enough hours in the day. so i have been testing a lot of new recipes that are quick, easy, fresh and crowd pleasing — because let's be honest, that is half the battle.

i’ve quickly realized that my meals (and i am sure if you follow me on social you can tell by this point) are mostly veg forward. which always leads you guys to ask me, “how do I get protein into all these veg forward meals?”

well… this newsletter is here to answer that burning question!

and stay tuned because we’ve got two more newsletters coming right up sharing more of my tips and tricks (and of course recipes) to help make dinner just a little less stressful.


tahini. tahini. tahini.

it is the condiments of all condiments, and as a woman with israeli roots, it's practically in my DNA. my garlicky tahini from eating out loud also happens to be how i sneak protein into any veg forward meal. if you have been following along, you know that i put tahini on and in just about everything (see here and here and here). it is the perfect dipping sauce, salad dressing, or drizzle sauce.

also, tahini is truly a super food. its got antioxidants, and has both anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. more reasons to love it.

okay, so garlicky tahini starts with tahini paste, i love
Soom's and Seed + Mill's. then i add lemon, garlic, salt and ice water (the ice water is the secret ingredient, honestly). you can watch me whip it up here.  

i like to make a batch of my garlicky tahini at the beginning of every week and keep it in the fridge (it keeps for about a week), so i always have it ready to drip, drizzle, dunk, or toss some veggies in. sometimes i even just set it out alongside dinner because ayv is as addicted as me.

if you are tahini-curious or a tahini-fanatic like myself, you can find the garlicky tahini recipe as well as my green tahini recipe (vibrantly photographed below) and charred tahini recipe in eating out loud.



legumes is just an umbrella term for beans, peas, and lentils. think navy beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, black beans.... they’re all legumes and they all help you add protein to any veg forward meal.

i bet you have at least one can of chickpeas lurking in the back of your pantry just begging to be put to work (this is seriously the perfect snack, and this is a ten out of ten winter dinner). and yes, easy canned beans that just get a rinse before being ready to eat get the thumbs from me. but also if you like to soak your beans overnight before cooking them, go for it. i do sometimes find they are easier to digest that way.

pro tip: i always make a batch of my coconut dal at the beginning of the week and then heat it up with different grains like rice, couscous or bulgar throughout the week. when you combine legume and a grain they become a complete protein. the kids love it as is but you can always add more heat for a kick or even more liquid and turn it in to a soup. it’s a really versatile recipe and goes well with so many different roasted veg.... think turmeric roasted cauliflower or sweet potato. yum.


grains, rice and quinoa

grains are the base to so many of my go-to family meals — hello roasted veg bowl, a real crowd pleaser that also incorporates my fav, garlicky tahini. some grains that are particularly good for protein are farro, barley, and kamut, which also happen to be some of my fav grains to cook with.

grains are another food i highly suggest you prep on sunday. or whenever you make a batch, just double it. you’ll never be mad about having some grains on hand to easily assemble a meal. even just saying "assembling a meal" feels like a fun thing rather than "cooking a meal," which can feel daunting. this recipe is a perfect example of something that can be assembled night of, instead of cooked from scratch.

also, we also love oats in our household to get some easy protein. i always have some house granola ready to mix into yogurt for an easy breakfast everyone loves. (breakfast can be stressful too, don’t get me started on the school drop off hustle and shuffle.)


nuts and seeds

okay technically tahini is a seed but i love it so much it got its own spot front and center. but i love all nuts and seeds. not only do they pack flavor and protein into any meal, they pack CRUNCH. you know when you're eating something and you're like... meh, it's a bit... mush. well, it's probably missing salt and crunch. salty seeds and nuts multitask to give you both. i highly recommend getting in the habit of adding a handful of pumpkin or sunflower seeds to any salad or veg dish for some easy protein (hint, hint and hint). or crush some pistachios and have them on hand to sprinkle atop anything and everything, including breakfast bowls.


protein rich veg

in all my years of being a true lover of veggies i’ve learned that even some veggies deliver a little protein kick. my favorites include spinach, kale, peas and avocado. it is just another reason why i love veggies. they are so nutrient dense and easy to make pop with flavor. so when your mom was always harassing you to “eat your peas,” she really knew what she was talking about. sorry, mom! you were right all along :)