Quinoa Protein Bowl

by Gena on April 10, 2011

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On Tuesday, when I shared my awesome new recipe for high-protein hemp hummus, Hannah made a good observation:

It sort of annoys me that so much of the media touts hummus as a high protein “food,” when it really has only 2 grams per 2 T serving, but this? This is this is the real deal.

I couldn’t agree more, Hannah – at least with respect to commercial hummus, which has two grams per serving indeed. That’s not my definition of a high protein food—I’d say that I expect a dish or meal component to have at least 8-15 grams for it to qualify as a decent protein source.

There are various schools of thought within the vegan and raw communities on how much protein we need and how best we should source it. Some vegans seem overly nervous about the “protein question,” recommending a wide array of powders, soy foods, and bars, or brown rice protein shakes consumed every few hours. Other vegans (especially in the raw community) like to tell us that everything we’ve ever learned about protein is straight up BS, and that, as long as we drink some juice and eat some leafy greens, we’re fine.

As a general rule, I think that most nutrition professionals have it right: they point to the RDA requirement of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight, and that vegans may want to aim for 0.9 grams, because vegan protein can be more difficult to assimilate. For women of standard height and weight, this means roughly 45-65 daily.

So the question becomes, what protein sources can vegans rely on that will give them all of the proteins–and varied amino acids–they need?

They include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Edamame, tofu, and tempeh
  • Hemp
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Protein powders (hemp, brown rice, yellow pea)
  • Quinoa, rice, millet, oats, oat bran, and other grains
  • Nuts and seeds

You’ll want to exercise a little caution with that last category, since it’s hard to get a really good serving of protein (say, 10 grams or higher) from nuts or seeds without also eating quite a bit of fat. (To give you some context, 2 tablespoons of almond butter has 16-18 grams fat and 4-8 grams of protein; 1 oz cashews has 5 grams of protein but 12 grams of fat.) This ends up being a significant challenge for raw foodists who avoid legumes, soy, and grains altogether: nuts become one of, or the only, significant protein source, but it’s hard to derive the desired protein without also consuming what may be a disproportionate amount of fat. For that reason, I encourage even very high raw foodies to consider legumes, high quality soy, and/or grains in addition to nuts and seeds.

But enough talk. The best way to show anyone how easy it is to get a good amount of protein as a vegan is to share easy and unexpectedly high protein recipes. Take my wall of green soup for example: one serving packs in a solid 20 grams. Eating a portion of my hemp hummus with two slices of Ezekiel toast would yield almost 19 grams. And even a single cup of my hemp milk would contribute 9 grams of protein to a smoothie.

If none of those options appeal, give my new quinoa protein bowl a try. This recipe came together two weeks ago, for the same client I made my hemp hummus recipe for. As soon as I tasted it, I was thrilled, and I plan to repeat it often. It’s a quick, easy weekday dinner, and it’s remarkably nutrient rich. Just see for yourself!

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Quinoa Protein Bowl (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Yields two servings

1/2 cup quinoa, dry
1 1/4 cups water
Dash salt
1/2 cup edamame, shelled and frozen
1 cup almond milk
1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp mellow white miso
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp lemon juice
Black pepper and salt to taste
6 oz. (about 3/4 cup) steamed and chopped kabocha or butternut squash
2 cups finely chopped raw kale

1) Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Rinse the quinoa in a sieve, and then add it to the boiling water. Add the frozen edamame to the water, too. Reduce to a simmer and cover loosely, until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water (about 20-25 min). Keep it in the pot over a very low flame while you prepare the sauce.

2) To make the sauce, place the almond milk, hemp, nutritional yeast, miso, mustard, turmeric, lemon, and salt and pepper in a high speed blender and blend till smooth and creamy. Add about 1/2 cup sauce to the quinoa, and stir to combine, keeping the flame on low.

3) Add the chopped kabocha and kale to the quinoa, and stir for a few minutes, until the kale wilts and everything is hot. At this point, if the quinoa isn’t as creamy as you’d like, add more sauce! If it’s perfect, then simply save the remaining sauce for another meal.

4) Top the dish with more nutritional yeast or hemp seeds, if desired, and serve!

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It goes beautifully with kale salad. But then, what doesn’t?

Hopefully this post gives you a sense of how I feel about protein, as I’m often asked to comment on it. Protein is important, and readers who are worried about meeting their protein needs on a vegan diet shouldn’t be made to feel embarrassed about their concerns. They should, however, take comfort in the fact that it’s not a tremendous challenge to get all of the protein you need on a vegan diet, just so long as you study the facts and do some meal planning. As soon as you do, you’ll get the hang of it.

And if you do find it a challenge to get the protein you need, recipes like this one should lend a helping hand. After all, one serving provides about 30 grams of plant-sourced amino acid power.

Back tomorrow with my new favorite salad recipe. Happy Sunday!

xo

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{ 74 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing April 10, 2011 at 11:05 am

I love this recipe. I don’t eat soy, but I think this would still be delightful with a substitution of beans.

I’m so glad you provided this outline of your views on vegan protein sources; it seems to be a recurring topic of conversation with my acquaintances, so I always appreciate a refresher :)

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Willie April 10, 2011 at 11:07 am

Thanks for this post! I always like to read smart advice on protein in vegan diets. And I’ve really been appreciating your recent string of hemp recipes. I made your hemp hummus yesterday, and it really is a treat!

One question: One piece of advice I’d heard from other vegan nutritionists (Brenda Davis was the first I heard this from, I think) is that we should think less about total grams of protein and more about total percent calories from protein (the general rule of thumb is that protein should account for around 15% of one’s total daily calories). I like thinking about things this way because then, instead of worrying about if I’m getting enough protein rich meals in every day which will add up to however many grams, all I need to think about is whether the foods I’m eating have at least 15% of their calories from protein–which, as the list here http://goo.gl/JKVC shows, are most whole foods, except for fruits. At any rate, this advice has helped me not be so finicky about counting grams of protein, and given me further encouragement to stay away from processed foods and stick with what nature gives us.

Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard all this information before; I posted it mainly for those other readers that may not have yet. My question for you is: Do you think this is a good, accurate, and healthy way to think about protein in one’s diet?

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Gena April 10, 2011 at 10:43 pm

I think it’s a pretty decent way of thinking about it! And I love Brenda’s work. To me, though, it sort of necessitates calorie counting — which is just as time consuming as protein gram counting — and it’s also possibly a little modest for some people as an estimate. For someone eating, say, 2000 kcal daily, this would be only 300 kcal from protein. Fine for some, low for others.

I don’t think there’s a hard and fast system to follow, but staying in the 50-60 range seems easy for me to process, and once the habit is established, easy to maintain. But I think Davis’ system is useful for those who a) need to move away from processed foods, b) don’t like gram counting. For sure!

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Mary L. April 10, 2011 at 11:08 am

“It sort of annoys me that so much of the media touts hummus as a high protein “food,” when it really has only 2 grams per 2 T serving, but this? This is this is the real deal.”

But I don’t consider 2 T. a serving, I consider that a bite.

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JL goes Vegan April 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

LOL! Me tooooooo!

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Alexia @ Dimple Snatcher April 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on protein for people who don’t eat meat. I always get frustrated when people use to ask me, “So where do you get protein from then?” Grrrr!

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Lynna April 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

oooh this sounds great! I’m not a big fan of quinoa but I’ve actually been craving it lately. Looks like a great packable lunch too!

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Victoria (District Chocoholic) April 10, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hi Gena – what is your assessment of how much extra protein active or extremely active women need? I ask because I was a vegetarian for many years, and as I was a teenager/college student, I neglected to ensure I got enough protein. About a month after re-introducing all animal protein except red meat, my swimming times improved drastically. I’ve recently contemplated becoming vegetarian again, but am concerned about how this would impact my training (80-120 minutes a day most days) and thus my overall health. I can see from your delicious recipes that it’s certainly *possible* to get protein, but it might be difficult to get the quantities I need to support my training (which I love).

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DM April 10, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I have the same question & would love to see your thoughts on this Gena. I train for 1/2 and full ironman distance races so I`m also regularly training 1-2hrs or more a day. I find I do have to take care to get the protein in because – for me too – it does make a difference to performance. For me, that’s meant relying a lot more on processed veggie meat analogs, which for more than a few reasons is something I`m working on changing.

So happy to see the hemp hummus post the other day & this one! Will definitely be trying these out & hoping for more like this.

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Freya April 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yes, I really want to know the opinion on protein for athletes. I’ve got another marathon coming up this year and am hoping to smash my time – but I need to make sure I get enough protein :)

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Gena April 10, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Hey everyone!

Great question. The client I’ve been doing these recipes for, actually, is a marathoner, hence her concern. I think 80-90 grams or so is a reasonable amount for an athletic person; so you may want to think of this as 30 g per meal, 3x daily, and it’s cool if you go a little below that. Using a vegan protein powder in a smoothie can easily get you to 30; so can a chia pudding with a protein addition. This quinoa bowl for dinner is 30, and a hemp hummus sandwich along with some broccoli or other greens can easily be 30. You jut have to think it through.

Also, don’t forget that tempeh is VERY protein rich, and you can get a lot from it without eating a huge portion.

Hope this helps!

G

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Karen April 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

Yes! I’ve recently rediscovered tempeh and much to my delight have found it the most easily digestible form of soy – much less irritating than tofu for me, perhaps b/c it’s fermented and/or combined with whole grains. Just a half serving (1/4 package) yields 10 grams of protein. I actually like the earthy flavor and simply add a few raw chunks to my salads.

Victoria (District Chocoholic) April 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm

Thanks, Gena! I’m sure I wasn’t getting that much back in my previous vegetarian days; I might try again paying more attention this time.

Sarah @ eatliveaustin April 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I think you all might be interested in this information from my intro to nutrition textbook (science of nutrition 2nd ed by thompson, manore, and vaughn).

recommended protein intakes
most adults*: .8 g per kg body weight
nonvegetarian endurance athletes^: 1.2-1.4 g per kg body weight
nonvegetarian strength athletes^: 1.6-1.7 g per kg bw
vegetarian endurance athletes^: 1.3-1.5 g per kg bw
vegetarian strength athletes^: 1.7-1.8 g per kg bw
* from IOM 2002
^ from ACSA, ADA, and DoC 2001

I have not read the whole chapter yet but I think the protein recommendations are higher for vegetarians because of the need to combine proteins and because of protein digestibility. animal and soy protein are highly, or ~90% digestible, legumes are also highly, or ~70-80% digestible, and grains and vegetables vary from ~60% to 90% digestibility

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Sarah E. Brown April 10, 2011 at 11:49 am

Wonderful information, beautifully presented. Your insights could really help a lot of raw foodies, I’ll definitely share them with folks here at The Tree of Life in Arizona. Thank you :)

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FoodFeud April 10, 2011 at 11:52 am

Yeah, I’ve definitely recently gotten in trouble by eating way too many raw nuts and seeds for my protein fix and have put on a fit of weight. Love the quinoa bowl. Sounds delicious.

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Valerie @ CityLifeEats April 10, 2011 at 11:56 am

Yum. I am all about nooch and quinoa these day so I will need to try this soon. And thank you for the good advice on protein. I got to the 45-65 gm figure on my own after some research, but it was nice to see you confirm my hunch – t one point my old GP’s advice was that I needed 85-100 grms of lean protein like egg whites for blood sugar stability and weight loss. yeah right – it never worked and i never built muscle mass (or lost weight), whereas now, with plenty of greens and my 50 grm protein/day, sometimes a bit less, I seem to build muscle so much more easily. I only stopped listening to the 85-100 grms of protein advice after doing a lot of my own research.

Off my soapbox, but needed to mention this: I am visiting my parents now and on a mission to get them on the chia pudding board – particularly my mom who is great about her low-glycemic diet except for breakfast where she just eats fruit (which isnt bad per se, but not ideal for her). So I am working on getting her to add a small scoop of chia pudding to her fruit. So far we have done blueberry (inspired by you), raspberry (natural derivative of blueberry pudding inspiration), sunbutter (I think that one might be out of my chia obsessed brain) and we have pumpkin (your recipe) on deck for tomorrow morning.

HAve a good trip back to the city.

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Andrea @ CanYouStayForDinner.com April 10, 2011 at 11:58 am

I so appreciate your discussion of protein, and how inclusive you always are in your reasoning. Thank you for that :)

I can’t get enough quinoa lately. Especially mixing it with freshly simmered pinto beans and making a cheesy sauce to mix with. Love this recipe and will try it soon!

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Evan Thomas April 10, 2011 at 11:59 am

I tend to think the protein concern has only come about because we’re so used to eat not-whole foods in between meals like cookies and brownies that we’re relying too much on processed food and because of that protein becomes a bigger concern during the 3 standard meals of the Standard American Diet. I know that sine I’ve started getting used to having real food in between meals, whether it’s a handful of nuts, raw veggies, or even canned beans, I’ve been able to destress protein at meals and still feel great.

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Meg April 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I agree with Mary L. that 2 tablespoons is more like a bite than a real serving!

A cup of hummus has 12 grams of protein. That sounds like plenty to me. In comparison, a cup of plain, cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein — though about half as many calories and much less fat.

(Source: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/legumes-and-legume-products/4403/2 and http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/cereal-grains-and-pasta/10352/2 )

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VeggieGirl April 10, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Thank you for addressing the issue regarding protein content in hummus – I’ve always wondered that too!

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Carrie (Moves 'N Munchies) April 10, 2011 at 12:32 pm

this looks DELICOUS!!!!! and i love all that info on protein- yeah that must be really tough for raw foodies to get protein.. since nuts is like the only source!

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Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope April 10, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Completely agree with your take on protein! Like most things, it’s a balance! You need to look at your personal lifestyle and find what works for your body. It needs to be taken into account, but shouldn’t be the sole focus of your diet.

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

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Karen April 10, 2011 at 12:48 pm

I share your relaxed but mindful perspective on protein, and the quinoa recipe looks great.

I’m LOVING your hemp hummus recipe right now…I was surprised that hemp seeds contributed to such a creamy texture, even without the suggested tbs. tahini – esp. given the lack of olive oil. My worry was that the outcome would be dry. And, the nutritonal profile of this hummus is so well balanced and relatively low fat. Most importantly, it’s even more delicious than my traditional hummus. Many thanks, Gena!

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Cameo April 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I am making that tonight! I eat a lot of variations on this, but my spices are bland compared to yours…can’t wait to try it!

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama April 10, 2011 at 1:33 pm

This post is full of great information. Thank you!

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Ela April 10, 2011 at 1:43 pm

These are such sensible recommendations about protein.

Another great source to add is spirulina/chlorella– is it 15g protein per tablespoon?

I make a delicious salad dressing with tahini, spirulina and nooch, or sometimes sub coconut for the tahini. With oregano and smoky paprika sometimes. So delicious, and so protein-rich too!

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Mimi (Gingersnaps) April 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

This looks delish!

I did crack up about the hummus though. I used to ask my vegan friends about it, and one said “Yeah, it’s the best source of vegan protein besides tofu, seitan, or beans.” When I saw a nutritional label for it, I was like “eh?” Then again, she went vegan for ethics, and didn’t care much about the nutritional aspects beyond the basics. Don’t think she knew about nooch ;-).

I love hummus to pieces, but it’s not a “protein food” to me…excepting your hempy hummus.

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Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA April 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm

This recipe looks so good, it’s like you invented it for me!

I don’t really worry about protein, and I tend to eat a pretty high-protein diet on accident, just because those are the foods I like. I eat a lot of veggies,split peas, and lentils. I definitely get more protein for less fat than I did before I went vegan.

I was wondering, why is this client so interested in high-protein foods? Is it her interest, or did you advise her to eat more protein? And what would be the reason for that? Just wondering what would cause you to advise a client to up their protein intake.

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Gena April 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Mostly her own request. She’s a marathoner and works with a trainer who has made her quite nervous, so I’m working to alleviate the fretting!

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Emma (Namaste Everyday) April 10, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Thanks for your advice on the protein, it was very enlightening!

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JL goes Vegan April 10, 2011 at 2:04 pm

This is a great post, Gena. The recipe looks great, of course, but I do like the perspective you offer on protein.

As I grow on my vegan journey I find I’m getting a little less uptight about “what about the protein.” I know I’m getting it because I eat a very balanced diet — and I am SO over counting anything. I don’t want to count calories, carbs or grams of protein. I want to follow my instincts and make a point to get a wide variety of delicious, plant-based foods.

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Freya April 10, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I am SO glad Hannah mentioned that 2g of protein per 2tbsp – I have always thought the exact same thing!

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Hoshigaki April 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Hi Gena, here’s my latest foray into animal vs. plant protein:

I’m seeing a new naturopath m.d. who recommended I add some animal protein to my diet.
My philosophy on food in the past year has been a little more about experimentation and openness within the confines of plant-based foods. I’ve had lots of fun with spirulina, multi-colored sweet potatoes, nut butters (definitely allergic to almonds), and found collards to be my favorite food ever. So it was with this attitude that I thought: “ok, if you add animal protein and are honest about how it makes you feel then you will know once and for all what feels better for you- instead of relying on a 2 year-old memory to compare to”.

For whatever reason since becoming mostly raw vegan I really can’t witness with all five senses, and not be disgusted (DEATH), the act of cooking flesh. That being said, as a vegan, I always missed a warm hard boiled egg. A less sense-aggressive cooking method.

So when my new m.d. recommended I try animal protein to see how it would make me feel I was adamant that I would not be eating meat-meat and had this concession to source eggs from a local organic farm that were born from pastured and loved chickens (with a view of the ocean, I’m told- eggs as rent money?)…
A carton of tiny peewee eggs came with my CSA box and I set a few on the stove to boil. I peeled the shell with a little heart flutter. Took a bite. It was delicious. How anyone can toss away the yoke is beyond me. ANYWAY.
In order to complete the experiment, I incorporated eggs in my diet for two weeks.

On this third week, I aver that a vegan diet is the diet for me. I will end my brief experiment in ovo-vegetarianism and return to a plant-based diet.
I share this because there are so many “returned to animals because veganism was killing me” stories. My story is: veganism and egg-ism felt pretty much the same to me- only my digestion was slowed by the animal protein (not in a painful way) just in a this-isn’t-efficient way…and also, I gained a few unneeded lbs.

Who knows what happened to my cholesterol.
I’m excited to be re-born as a vegan and experiment with protein within the world that’s felt right to me.

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Gena April 10, 2011 at 10:50 pm

Thanks SO much for sharing your story! It’s important for new vegans to hear, because ex-vegans tend to be a very aggressive and vocal crowd. I’ve seen a lot of vegans pressured by NDs (and sometimes by MDs) into eggs and fish; sometimes there is a change (positive or negative), but more often than not there’s no change, or only placebo effects. And doctors often have a hard time articulating what exactly the protein will do, or why it’s being suggested.

Anyway, that may not describe what happened to you accurately at all, but I wanted to run with the theme :)

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Elizabeth April 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

As a mostly vegan non-vegan, I find your egg experiment fascinating. I have had similar experiences with eggs and other animal products when I have tried to incorporate them into my diet. It seems I’ve lost my ability to digest them. It makes me suspicious of the experiences of so many outspoken former vegans (that bliss on digging into a can of tuna after so many years of veganism). My experience trying to eat eggs, or meat, was very different, and I was never even vegan. I was eating yogurt daily, but hadn’t eaten meat in 8 years. I began to crave it (I do think protein cravings are completely real, and legitimate, and I happen to think animal protein is more assimilable than grain protein), but when I did give in, it wasn’t bliss that I experienced but unbelievable stomach pain. Every time I’ve given in to a craving for meat, or eggs, same results. And what I’ve learned is that my HCL levels are so low, that I simply can’t digest flesh anymore. So it’s weird for me to read accounts of vegans who go back to eating meat with no problems and no enzyme supplementation … because my experience trying to go back was very different. Now I don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, but this was all before I knew about factory farming. I also avoid dairy (with rare exceptions). However, I still crave protein from time to time. I can’t eat grains, but I can eat legumes, and I do, regularly. I also make protein shakes fairly regularly, add hemp to whatever I can. I don’t mind the fats in nuts and seeds, but sometimes I want food that is both grounding and energizing minus the heaviness. I don’t think I could do the high-raw thing without supplements, I really don’t.

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Valerie @ CityLifeEats April 12, 2011 at 6:50 am

I am deficient in HCL myself (discovered it after being diagnosed with gallbladder problems and trying different approaches to diet for a while) and I echo the weirdness of reading accounts of vegan who go back to animal protein with no enzyme supplementation or anything. So odd to me.

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) April 10, 2011 at 2:21 pm

The quinoa protein bowl is such a “Gena Recipe”…hemp seeds, nooch, miso, kale..it just has your name written all over it and looks wonderfu1!

Protein…oh that. Well, I used to worry about “getting enough” but that was ages ago and in the past 5 years, don’t think much about it. My body does best with minimal to no protein powders, I consume edamame or tofu or tempeh regularly, nooch, and nuts/nut butters, too. That does the trick for me along with everything else but I also happen to know after years of personal ‘research’ that my body doesnt have a ridic high protein requirement.

Carbs and fat are more important to my body than protein but I know some ppl do best on higher protein and lower carbs, for example. It took years of tweaking and self discovery to figure this out so for me, I am good but when ever people write to me asking for a number in grams, I dont know what to say b/c everyone’s bodies and activity levels and needs are soooo varied.

Great discussion topic :)

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Ricki April 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Great, balanced view on the topic! I think people don’t realize that most vegetables contain some protein, too (a baked potato has 7 go of protein, whereas a cup of sweet potato has 4 grams). Your salad looks AMAZING! I love, love edamame and of course quinoa is always a staple. Can’t wait to try this! :D

PS I think you meant “2 tablespoons of almond butter has 16-18 GRAMS fat and 4-8 GRAMS of protein,” right? ;)

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melissa April 10, 2011 at 3:05 pm

to be honest, i wasn’t even aware of what the suggested protein per day was for women but i will say this…i have noticed that i feel best when i’m in the 40-50g range and last night ended up feeling quite ill (i noticed that i’d had nearly 85-90g protein in the form of a hemp shake, eggs and a huge serving of chicken at a restaurant last night). i woke up super thirsty this morning and it was kinda hard to digest…lesson learned! our bodies are pretty smart!

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kathy April 10, 2011 at 4:03 pm

um, yum. Love this bowl. Love the yellow color – I’m on board with anything Dijon infused. yum Gena!

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Hannah April 10, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Wow Gena!! Thank you so much for addressing this, I was not expecting that at all. This recipe looks delicious :) I feel so stupid for writing “this is” twice though. So embarrassing!! I love how you combine so many protein sources at once.

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Carrie (Carrie on Vegan) April 10, 2011 at 4:49 pm

Someone may have mentioned this already, but the super cool thing about quinoa is that it is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. It’s the only grain that can tout that claim. So, it’s not necessarily high in protein, but it’s a great source for vegans to ensure we get all of the necessary components. :)

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Michelle | Gold-hearted Girl April 10, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Quinoa is a staple in my kitchen! I’ve found so many ways to eat it, for every meal, too. Thanks for the new recipe.

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Desi@ThePalatePeacemaker April 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Gena, This looks INCREDIBLE. The moment I’m finished with this candida cleanse I’m on, I am making this ASAP. Thank you! :)

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Hayley April 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

I’ve so missed your blog! This recipe looks delicious…I need to find time to go back and read over some of your past posts. You’re always full of information. :)

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Ally (oatsandspice) April 10, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Looks so good – I am making this when I get a chance – can’t wait :)

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Kelsey @ Unmitigated Grub April 10, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Recipe looks AMAZING. This got me thinking; I’d really like to pay closer attention to my protein intake–just for a while to get an idea of whether or not I’m getting the recommended amount. I know there are plenty of vegan sources of protein, but I’d like to be a little more conscious about it in my own diet. I think that way I’ll become more aware of exactly where my protein is coming from instead of just guessing that I’m probably getting enough… Great info!! :)

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Hannah April 10, 2011 at 11:09 pm

Oh Gena, this looks fantastic! So creamy and savoury and filling! I’m obsessed with dijon and nutritional yeast at the moment, but would have to sub the hemp for something else… perhaps sunflower seeds? I’ve had the remnants of a bag of quinoa in the pantry for weeks, and keep forgetting to use it up. Perhaps I should put a reminder in my phone so that I remember to make this this week :P

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bitt April 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Can you explain your rationale behind not wanting to get so much fat with protein? Because it fill you up and you can’t get enough protein? Or that fat is just bad in too high quantities. I am feeling confused.

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Gena April 11, 2011 at 8:31 am

The idea is that in order to fulfill all protein needs with nuts or seeds, you’d also have to consume a very large amount of fat. Now, I’m not a huge believer in “metabolic typing,” but I do think that people respond differently to different ratios of macronutrients in their diets. Some people–some raw friends of mine among them–can do really nicely with a very high amount of fat in their diets. But I’m generally of the belief that too much fat, like too much anything, isn’t great. I’ve seen some people struggle to meet protein needs exclusively with nuts and seeds, and between that and other raw staples (avocados, etc) the fat count on a given day can easily be in the 80-120 gram range.100+ grams is a significant amount of fat (depending, of course, on gender, caloric intake as a whole, height, weight, activity level) and could easily cause many people to gain weight.

In addition, I tend to see most people do best with a balance of macros (fat, complex carbs, protein). It can vary wildly, but I see very few people thrive on a diet where one of the macros (be it protein or fat or carbs) is extremely high. Hence my feeling that too high quantities of anything isn’t great–even if the food sources are very healthy! 100+ grams of fat daily may too much for some men and women, even if it comes from good sources, just the way a ton of carbs isn’t great for some people, even if it comes from healthy whole grains.

Naturally, whatever works, works. And “a ton” can only be defined in the context of a person’s height and weight, activity level, and metabolism, so it’s hard to talk in broad strokes. But if I had to speak in cautious and generalized tones, I’d say the best tactic is to choose both fatty and non-fatty protein sources, to keep things in balance.

Hope this alleviates any confusion!

xo

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Karen April 11, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Respectfully, I’d add that while consuming “healthy” fat, you not only consuming a relatively large number of calories, but also obtaining “unhealthy” fat as well – most nuts, seeds, etc. contain some saturated fat as well. Nutrition experts, including most proponents of vegan diets, suggest that we moderate our intake of saturated fat as it is linked, most notably, to coronary disease.

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Emilia @ Namaste Gurl April 11, 2011 at 12:19 am

Wow Gena, this couldn’t have been a more spot- on and timely post! I totally agree with everything you noted on. Vegans have a tremendous array of protein options- if not as much as carnivores. Before becoming vegetarian, I had NO idea about the numerous protein options for vegans. Who knew nutritional yeast, chia seeds, dark leafy greens, hemp and much more could be such nutritional powerhouses? Plus, when we’re eating them, we’re also getting in the numerous other benefits that the food provides, other than protein, such as fiber, omega 3s, and many other vitamins and minerals. Such a bonus for us veggies, huh? :)

I hate when people say commercial hummus is “a good protein source”! All the more reason to make my own :)

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Luis Delso April 11, 2011 at 3:14 am

Hi friends:

I love the recipe, thanks for the post, I look forward to enjoying many more recipes.

A hug!

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Angela April 11, 2011 at 5:59 am

This is a great post and recipe, Gena. Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Just a couple questions: If you don’t want to obsess over counting grams of protein or doing all the math, what would be some physical symptoms of not getting enough protein? Fatigue maybe?
When would you start considering yourself an athlete that needs higher protein intakes? I don’t run competitively, but I do put in about 20 miles on the treadmill every week, in addition to yoga, walking, zumba, and sometimes a little light weight lifting. I guess I never considered myself an athlete because I don’t race and exercise just because it makes me feel good, but I’m wondering at what level of physical activity you need to start bumping up your protein intake. Thanks for all your advice!!

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Gena April 11, 2011 at 8:15 am

Angela,

I think that qualifies as an athletic lifestyle, but it’s not quite the same as training for a marathon or doing a competative sport (with 3-5+ hours of training, sometimes, on a given day). For someone like you, I’d say that you certainly shouldn’t dip much below 50 grams on a regular basis (remember, it’s always OK to have an exceptional day or two here and there) but that you might not need to be in the same higher ranges recommended for professional athletes (80+ grams). So the take home message is: be mindful, but don’t obsess simply because you’re active.

As for symptoms, protein deficiency per se is actually very rare–practically nonexistent, except in third world countries where food is scarce–but some sign that you may not be getting enough could be fatigue, muscle wasting, and hair loss. Careful, though, because these symptoms could also be related to many other conditions; they’re not at all conclusively linked to protein.

G

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Angela April 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! I did a quick estimate and it looks like I’m getting about 40 grams a day. Yikes! Glad you brought this up :)

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Becca April 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I’m a vegan in medical school and I just wanted to say that I had recently had one of my nutrition classes dedicated to protein. I would disagree that it is ALWAYS OK to have an exceptional day here and there: our bodies are mostly made of protein (skin, enzymes, muscles, etc) and when we are lacking an amino acid, protein synthesis stops or our existing muscles are broken down in order to acquire the missing amino acid. If we do have a “low” protein day, we really risk having muscle breakdown. I really think that protein should be kept to a good level every single day. On that note, that’s why complete proteins are important so that protein synthesis doesn’t halt because one amino acid is missing.

Also, vegans/vegetarians tend to require a bit more protein than meat eaters just because plant proteins aren’t always accessible given the digestive enzymes we have. Without getting into too much detail, some people’s body doesn’t absorb plant proteins as well as animal derived proteins, so it is best to shoot a little higher than the recommended protein guides just to make sure that we never had a “low” day (as mentioned above). It really comes down to the Biochemistry of the body and how well equipped some people’s bodies to digest protein.

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Gena April 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Thanks for your thoughts, Becca! I went over this in my biochem class, too, and agree that it’s not wise to take too much liberty with protein intake. I do believe that most people’s systems can recover from an exception here and there, as long as it’s never chronic and an overall understanding of the importance of protein is had — which is part of why I wrote this post, in spite of some negative twitter feedback about what an alarmist I am ;-)

Hooray for fellow meds/pre-meds!

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Sandi April 11, 2011 at 7:13 am

I noticed you didn’t mention peanuts, which have more protein than other nuts (probably because they’rea actually a legume?) I just wanted to put in a good word for my beloved peanut butter, but I agree that nuts and seeds are best as part of a diet full of whole grains, beans, and all the other delicious protein sources you mentioned.

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Whitney Jarvis April 11, 2011 at 10:23 am

Gena, thank you for this post! There is so much conflicting information out there on this topic, and it’s one I struggle with having grown up with skewed perceptions of humans’ protein needs.(I grew up in southern KS and for most of my life, I didn’t think it was a meal if it didn’t include animal protein!) Now, being newly vegan, I’ve been paying more attention to how many grams I’m taking in and can tell the difference when I neglect my persnal protein needs. I learned this the hard way after a solid week of dragging my tired body around and struggling through runs that should have been eeeeasy for me. Just one small tweak and I was back up and running! (I’ll admit it – pun intended.) I guess we each just have to do what feels right to us, but I think your advice is solid and appreciate your thoughts on good vegan protein sources!

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Meghan @ StruggleMuffins April 11, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I love anything that involves the nutritional yeast/ miso paste combo – this looks yumazing and I will be making it soon!

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Christine (The Raw Project) April 11, 2011 at 12:59 pm

Great points on protein. I amazes me that many of the non-vegans who ask me about protein, have no idea how much they’re getting or should be getting. The quinoa bowl looks wonderful, I can’t wait to try it … after I restock on quinoa. :-) Thanks!

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Jacqui MacNeill (Escents Aromatherapy Essential Oils) April 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Great quinoa recipe! And with a kale salad on the side it makes for a really healthy meal. Thanks for sharing!

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Pure2raw twins April 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Wonderful post and comments! I have really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts on this topic. As it is something I struggle with. Currently I have added eggs back in my diet, mainly because trying to eat a candida friendly left me with little choices. I do eat hemp, brown rice, chia, etc for protein. And was eating quiona and legumes for protein, but so many people kept telling me I should not be eating those when on a candida diet. So I am cutting down on them, so needed something else to eat. I feel like every time I try something, someone tells me I should not be doing that or eating. So frustrating. I am trying to listen to my body, but it is hard to take into account what others say.

Anyways got me rethinking everything.

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Gena April 12, 2011 at 7:45 am

If I may be honest, I really think you need to stop listening to the interwebs — blogs, bloggers, commenters, and so on. You should remember that a lot of people out there are fully of really bad advice, or advice that worked for them, but is unlikely to work for YOU. It’s always a hazardous thing to ask for advice or share your own health decisions online, because you’ll be deluged with everybody’s two cents — and lots of those cents aren’t worth much at all.

Are you sure candida is the problem at this point? It seems as though you’ve been doing candida maintenance or cleanses for a long time. Maybe something to discuss over breakfast :)

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Ashley April 12, 2011 at 10:29 am

This post couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks, Gena! My appetite seems to have grown in the last few weeks, possibly from the hectic schedule with all of the remodeling. I’ve been trying to make my meals a bit more protein-dense and loved hearing your thoughts on the topic. I’m currently kitchen-less, but will be looking forward to trying out this recipe soon! Thanks, love!

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sophie April 12, 2011 at 11:29 am

thanks for this delicious recipe! i’m inhaling it as we speak. i subbed marinated fresh zucchini for the edamame and i used red quinoa which i hadn’t made in awhile and it is all so good! now i’m going upstairs for a second helping. :)

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Gloria April 14, 2011 at 8:10 am

This is delicious! I had it for dinner last night with broccoli, spinach and sweet potatoes for the edamame, kale and squash. I love hemp and am trying to use it more because I hear it helps reduce inflammation. I get some nagging soreness in my knee after I run (had an mri – nothing of concern) and I’m testing to see if the hemp will help. Thanks for the great recipe!

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RawFoodGuys April 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Very great list on protein sources. Quinoa is my favorite protein for non animal. I wonder what is the most protein packed vegan food by gram?

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Heidi May 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I made this tonight. Doubled the recipe for leftovers and subbed yams for squash. Really good, and easy. Thanks!

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Linda September 6, 2011 at 5:52 pm

Where are you finding a high protein Quinoa? I went to Whole Foods,Trader Joe’s and some health food stores. I didn’t find any Quinoa with protein over 6 grams.

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rawFoodGuys September 6, 2011 at 6:09 pm

I recently learned that quinoa is a seed, and this is why has so much proteins! No wonder when I eat my wife’s sprouted Quinoa-chocolate raw granola is so fulfilling, energetic and easy to digest!

Carlos

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