Protein intake might be the first thing on a person’s mind when switching to a mostly meatless diet. It’s a valid concern, particularly for older people. I’m a big advocate of real food, so I love to talk about plant foods that boost protein intake. Key word: “real”. I do not include highly processed fake meat in the “real” category. Unfortunately, when marketers include some meat-like term (“chick’n”) on the label, consumers assume the food is high protein. Wrong assumption.
The best plant protein foods are legumes, nuts, nut butters, and soy foods. I particularly like recipes based on beans. Even better — recipes that use canned beans, which are extremely convenient.
Hummus for plant protein
Hummus is everywhere these days. The traditional Mediterranean/Mideastern food is tasty and convenient, a winning combination. The basis is garbanzo beans and tahini (sesame seed paste), both of which are good sources of plant protein. Hummus is seasoned with garlic, salt, olive oil and lemon juice.
Tahini is pricey, so many recipes are heavier on the less expensive garbanzo beans. Some leave tahini out altogether, which is food heresy. You do need the texture and that rich sesame flavor for proper hummus. Not to mention the protein variety.
What’s for Dinner?
I was trying to think of a last minute dinner recipe, but didn’t particularly want to eat a bowl of hummus. For one thing, the visuals aren’t very appealing. But why not a salad made with the same basic ingredients? Plus fresh garden vegetables. I used herbs, tomatoes and cucumbers from my garden.
This recipe uses roasted garlic. It’s mellow, and doesn’t add that strong harsh raw garlic flavor. If you like raw garlic, no problem. It’s easier. You can roast a whole head of garlic and keep unused portion wrapped in the refrigerator. Use it as a spread on bruschetta, add to sautéed vegetables, use to make tzatziki or some other dip, or in a salad dressing.
Serve this salad on a bed of greens, garnish with raw vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers.
- 2-3 cloves roasted garlic
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup tomato chunks (halved grape tomatoes are nice)
- 1 cup cucumber chunks
- 3 TB tahini
- juice of 1/2 lemon (more to taste)
- 2 TB olive oil
- 1-2 TB minced fresh herbs (parsley, basil, oregano)
- salt to taste
- Optional: red cayenne pepper, to taste
- Step 1 Put the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil in a medium mixing bowl.
- Step 2 Press the roasted garlic out of the skins onto the tahini mixture.
- Step 3 Mix the dressing ingredients well, with a spatula or large metal spoon, to make a smooth dressing.
- Step 4 Add the drained garbanzo beans and mix well to coat the beans with dressing.
- Step 5 Add the cucumbers, tomatoes and herbs and mix briefly just to coat with dressing.
- Step 6 Add salt and red pepper to taste.
- Step 7 Serve on a bed of greens. Accompany with pita bread or other artisanal bread.
This recipe ticks all the boxes for healthy diet: vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, Mediterranean. But better than that, it tastes good, and is a great choice for a quick hot weather entrée.