Okay, so you’re in a pickle. You’re having a dinner party and one—just one—of your guests is vegetarian. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Those damned vegetarians with their tofu and their salads: where do they even get their protein from?!
Well, here’s the thing: There’s more to vegetarian food than tofu and veggies. Mainstream media tends to focus on tofu as the only vegetarian protein source, which of course is not the case. But since you’re so concerned about your guest getting some protein, read on for a definitive list of yummy sources of protein, that even you, a meat-lover, will enjoy eating.
- Paneer (“fresh cheese”)
Agreed, paneer is not that different from tofu in terms of texture and appearance, but paneer is made from dairy sources, whereas tofu is made from soy. I grew up in a household where paneer was made from scratch at least once a week. This is a very versatile ingredient. You can use it to make curries, cream cheese, and even sweets out of it.
- Chickpeas (Garbanzo beans)
Who doesn’t love chickpeas, am I right? These were made on the weekends at home. Everyone looked forward to Sunday lunch, partly because that was the only time everyone in the family ate together. These legumes were mostly used to make curries (chana masala, we call it) at home, but there’s a lot more that can be done with them. You can use it as a base to a salad, put it in pasta, make hummus out of it, roast it for a quick snack, or use it to make cookies.
I hear your groans already, and I have to say, I understand where you’re coming from. I hated eating spinach as a kid, but I’ve learnt that it can be used to make actual yummy dishes. You can pair this green leafy vegetable with paneer or corn to make an Indian curry, use it to make a spinach yoghurt dip, soup, and even make kebabs. (Okay, I cheated. Spinach provides only about 3 grams of protein per 100 grams of spinach. But it’s really, really yummy and therefore it stays on this list.)
I only discovered quinoa about two years ago, but it became an instant hit and a staple in my diet soon thereafter. You can use quinoa instead of rice to make your recipes healthier and more fibrous. Make fun pizza bites, strawberry parfait, and stuffed peppers.
Used by Buddhist monks thousands of years ago, this wonderful ingredient packs in 21 grams of protein in a ⅓ cup serving. It can be used as a meat substitute in almost all recipes, particularly because of its texture. Make BBQ sliders, a simple stir-fry, or replace the carnitas with seitan in your fajitas.
Now go off and impress your vegetarian friends with a delicious spread.