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What does 30g protein for dinner look like?
Real dinners from my family's rotation
I often get asked how I get protein on a vegetarian diet. Can you get enough protein on a vegetarian diet? The answer is yes, but you have to be intentional about it. I try to get 80-100g protein per day: 30-40g from a smoothie in the morning (grass-fed whey protein powder) and then 20-30g from lunch and dinner.
Here’s a quick breakdown of my favorite sources
Animal products tend to be more concentrated sources of protein for the same amount of carbs/calories. If you do eat dairy, Greek yogurt or cottage cheese are excellent sources, delivering about 20g protein in a cup (240g). I will often swap out regular yogurt for Greek yogurt in a raita, and serve it as an easy side to an Indian meal. You can also make dips or toppings out of cottage cheese (eg. add garlic, salt, smoked paprika and blend).
Plant-based high-protein options tend to be soy-based. Tofu, tempeh and edamame are all excellent sources, delivering upwards of 12g per 100g serving.
Now for lentils, legumes and the like. These are non-trivial sources of protein, but it’s good to remember that they are bigger sources of carbs than protein. I would eat up to 3/4 cup cooked lentils/beans per serving, to get about 10g protein. But they also come with plenty of fiber and are great for your gut.
Similarly, nuts are bigger sources of fat than protein, but can provide a great complementary source of protein in a meal, about 6-8g per ounce/28g serving. An egg has 6g protein as well.
Remember that vegetables (especially non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, etc.) have protein too: about 2g/cup raw, which is an excellent bonus considering that they come with so many additional benefits.
Cheese is also an good source of protein - it depends on the varietal but many of the commonly used cheeses like mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan have 7-9g per ounce/28g serving. I’ll often do 2 eggs plus cheese to get 20g protein in a meal.
What did I miss?
Winner, Winner, Protein Dinner!
Here are 3 high-protein dinners (REAL dinners that I had recently, that’s why the photos aren’t very styled). They are very quick to put together, and serve up an impressive 30g protein.
Dinner 1: Fridge clean-up
This one was pretty last-minute. Stovetop pesto-roasted rainbow cauliflower, garlicky sauteed chard in olive oil, steamed edamame with sea salt and 2 eggs soft-boiled in my Instant Pot. Remember, 2 eggs is not enough protein in a meal, that’s why the edamame is important! You could also do pan-roasted tofu in place of the eggs to make this completely plant-based.
Dinner 2: Indian-style
This one has the Siete almond flour tortilla, Trader Joe’s channa masala (you can use any packaged lentils) and Greek Yogurt Raita, served with garlicky broccoli sauteed in olive oil on the stovetop (try to cut broccoli and garlic an hour earlier to activate sulforaphane). Avocado and cucumber slices round out the meal.
Dinner 3: Pasta night
Last, but certainly not the least, this one is a high-protein pasta, served with a beet-walnut pesto (you can use any pesto with nuts - but I’m probably sending out this beet pesto recipe next week), sauteed collard greens, garnished with parmesan and dotted with fresh jalapeno.
Feel free to share this post with anyone you think will benefit!
I hope this post gave you some actionable protein ideas! What are your favorite sources of protein?
It is challenging to get 100g protein in a day from whole foods on a vegetarian diet - you would have to eat an awful lot of food. Or use the same 2-3 sources of concentrated protein every day, which doesn’t work for me as I get bored easily. That’s why I supplement with a protein smoothie in the morning to get a strong start to the day.
I love mixing and matching my sources of protein from both plant and animal sources to get 20-30g per meal. I’m working on offering a weeknight dinner meal plan which will be built around protein and gut-healthy fiber. Think seasonal flavor-first recipes, simple enough for weeknights, yet special enough for weekends. Recipes you’ll want on repeat, complete with a shopping list. Sound like something you need in your life?
Send me your wish-list by filling out this simple 10-question survey. I’m curating recipes for Winter 2024 and will keep you posted!
I’m excited to partner with the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh to teach an exclusive cooking series from The Vegetarian Reset! These are virtual cooking classes so anyone can sign up. The first class is on October 17, 6-8pm and we’ll be making a couple of Indian recipes to kick off the festive season. See the full schedule and sign up below!
The Vegetarian Reset: Plant Forward Recipes from Around the World | Vasudha Viswanath
Navratri & Diwali Special: Cucumber Papdi Chaat & Sundal | Vasudha Viswanath | Oct. 17 | 6 - 8 p.m. [Rescheduled from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.]
Thanksgiving Special: Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie | Vasudha Viswanath | Nov. 14 | 6 - 8 p.m. [Rescheduled from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.]
Gluten Free Baking: Hazelnut Brownies & Almond Flour Cookies | Vasudha Viswanath | Dec. 12 | 6 - 8 p.m. [Rescheduled from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.]
I was honored to be on Dr. Michael Roizen’s podcast, (Chief Wellness Officer at the Cleveland Clinic), and even more honored that he tried 4 recipes from my cookbook! Listen to the episode here.
Join my cookbook group here on Facebook and share your pictures as you cook along from the book! You can also ask questions about recipes and I will help in any way I can.
Get your copy of The Vegetarian Reset now!
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