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Following a plant-based diet: part 2

Maybe you have committed to Meatless Mondays or you are "all in" for starting a plant-based diet -- have you thought about what your sources of protein will be?

On last week's edition of On the Menu, Registered Dietitian Liz Weber shared what it means to follow a plant based diet.

Today, Registered Dietitian, Katie Francisco from Mercy Health discusses ultimate protein sources on a plant based diet as part two of this four-part series.

Maybe you have committed to Meatless Mondays or you are "all in" for starting a plant-based diet -- have you thought about what your sources of protein will be?

Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Start with modifying some of your favorite recipes. For example, remove the ground beef from your 5-star chili and add an additional type of bean like black beans or great northern beans instead. Another example is trading a firm tofu for the chicken in your favorite stir-fry or try replacing the chicken in your lettuce wraps with lentils!
  • Keep things fun. Try a new food or entire new recipe every week. You may be surprised of what becomes your new favorite.
  • Remember to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and grains.

Here are some great protein sources to include in your meal planning:

Beans & Lentils

There are so many varieties to choose from, such as black, red, pinto, garbanzo. Beans are both high in protein and fiber. Worried about the time it takes to cook them? Try canned beans with no added salt instead of traditional dry beans for a time saver. Also keep an eye out for vacuum-packed lentils and blacked eyed peas that are ready to serve hot or cold.


Nuts are excellent sources of protein and vitamin E and work perfectly as an added protein on your Sunday Salad. Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and cashews are some healthy nuts that can boost your protein consumption. Don't forget the variety of nut butters available; in addition to peanut butter, there is almond and cashew butter that go perfect with sliced apples and bananas for a quick snack.


Chia seeds and flax seeds are my favorite. Sprinkle them liberally on salads, in smoothies and mix into pancake/waffle batter. Other seeds to try include: Hemp, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Choose the low salt or no added salt version when possible.

High Protein Vegetables

Some vegetables including kale, spinach and sweet peas are also excellent protein sources. Why not make them the star of your meal? Ideas include spinach lasagna, kale salad and pesto pasta with sweet peas.


PESTO PENNE serves four


  • 8 ounces dried penne pasta
  • 2 cups 1-inch broccoli florets
  • 1½ cups packed with fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
  • Sea salt, to taste


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Steam broccoli in double boiler until tender.
  3. In a blender combine basil, ½ cup water and garlic. Blend until finely chopped.
  4. In a large saucepan, mash garbanzo beans with a potato masher, leaving some beans intact. Add almond milk and ½ cup water. Bring to boiling.
  5. Stir in basil mixture, tomatoes and red pepper. Reduce heat. Simmer 10 minutes or until tomatoes are slightly softened.
  6. Stir in cooked pasta and broccoli.
  7. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through.
  8. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Modified from Forks Over Knives Family

Green Goddess Bowl


  • Brussels Sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • Kale
  • Edamame (organic frozen edamame)
  • Zucchini, chopped
  • Quinoa
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt & pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drizzle the Brussels sprouts and zucchini with olive oil, sea salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender (zucchini may cook faster, so check on it and remove and set aside when done)
  4. Cook quinoa according to package directions in water or vegetable broth.
  5. Add a small amount of extra virgin olive oil to a pan over medium heat.
  6. Add the kale and sauté until wilted and slight crispy.
  7. Add edamame and sauté until warm.
  8. Arrange everything into a bowl or mix together!

Recipe modified from spinach for breakfast

No-Bake Hemp Seed Bars serves 12


  • 1 1/2 cups of raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups of hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup of natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa nibs or mini chocolate chips


  1. Add the almonds to a blender or food processor and pulse until the almonds are broken down, but not a fine flour consistency.
  2. Pour the almonds into a large mixing bowl, and mix in the rest of the ingredients until fully combined.
  3. Line a 8x8 glass baking dish with parchment paper, and then pour the mixture in.
  4. Spread out until even, and then place a second piece of parchment paper on top and press down firmly.
  5. Place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Remove and cut into bars or squares.
  7. Store in the fridge or freezer

Recipe modified from spinach for breakfast

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes serves 6


  • 1/2 cup dry green lentils
  • 1 -15 ounce can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained (1.5 cups)
  • Coleslaw for topping, if desired
  • Hamburger buns, I used Udi’s gluten free

BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 small shallot, diced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Place lentils in a medium sized pot, cover with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook lentils until tender and cooked through, 20-25 minutes.
  2. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add the olive oil and shallots. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Next, add the remaining BBQ sauce ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the cooked lentils and chickpeas to the BBQ sauce and cook for another 5-10 minutes until everything is heated through.
  4. Scoop the sloppy joe mix onto the buns and top with coleslaw.

Modified from She Likes Food

Mediterranean Kale Salad Mediterranean Kale Salad


For the salad:

  • 1/2 pound kale, veins removed, chopped
  • 1/2 large bell pepper, thinly sliced Mediterranean Kale Salad
  • 1/2 cup cucumbers, chopped
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 large pear, chopped
  • 1/4 cup walnuts Mediterranean Kale Salad
  • 1 cup edamame, shelled
  • 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (if desired)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey mustard (or mix 1 teaspoon mustard with 1/2 teaspoon honey)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. Place kale in a large salad bowl. Be sure to massage the kale and remove tough stems and veins.
  2. Add all other salad ingredients to the bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients. Whisk well.
  4. Dress salad, using only half of the dressing at first, tossing gently. Allow salad to sit, dressed, for at least 10 minutes. Taste and add more dressing if needed.

Modified from Meatless Monday


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