Komal Shah, Dietetic Major ’18, University Health Center Peer Educator
Many people think vegetarian and protein don’t go hand in hand, or that vegetarians always need to get some extra protein through supplements. Well, that’s not true! Being vegetarian all my life I can tell you that meat is not the only source of protein. The best part of vegetarian protein? It is high in fiber, low in fat, and gives you as much protein as your body needs.
Let’s go over some of the vegetarian options that are rich in protein and how you can incorporate it into your meals:
- Beans and Lentils: My major protein source has always been lentils and beans. It does not only offer protein but also dietary fibers like soluble fibers, vitamins and minerals like iron and potassium. Beans and lentils are very cost effective. They can be bought dried, canned, frozen or fresh at less than $1/pound. The dining halls, have lentils and beans option during lunch and dinner meals. At the Stamp, you can find lentils/beans at the Food co-op, Moby-dick (instead of kebab try falafel and humus), or Taco-bell (7 layer burrito or Cantina bowl).
- Nuts and Nut Butter: Nuts can be fun to eat while providing protein, healthy fats, and antioxidants. During breakfast, add chopped nuts to muffins, sprinkle on oatmeal, or add to smoothies. Nut butter can be used as a spread on pancakes or with bread. One can add nuts during lunch and dinner by mixing them with salad, rice and quinoa. One can also add nuts and nut butter as a snack by having a fruit with nut butters, or crackers and trail mix. Unsalted nuts and nut butters can be bought from the Union Shop at the Stamp.
- Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt has more protein compared to regular yogurt. Have an unflavored Greek yogurt and add fruits like mixed berries or peaches. One can also add it in smoothies and soups, make it a dip by adding some spices, or have it with celery sticks, carrots, and other vegetables. Greek yogurt is available in the Union Shop at the Stamp.
- Eggs (Lacto-ovo-vegetarian): Eggs are considered to be a good source of not only protein but also vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and iron. The dining halls prepare eggs every day at breakfast. For Terps who commute, a go-to breakfast could be hard-boiled eggs, which are easy to prepare and carry. For lunch and dinner, one can add scrambled eggs to rice, pasta, quinoa, salad, or soup for extra protein.
- Tofu: It is packed with protein, calcium, and antioxidants. It comes in different textures. Soft tofu can be used in smoothies, creamy soups, pudding, and mixed in with rice or pasta (as it resembles ricotta cheese or scrambled eggs).For firm tofu, it can be cubed and sautéed in stir-fry or added in sandwiches.
I have always tried to incorporate a variety of protein sources in each meals like lentils and rice, or beans with rice and steamed vegetables, or pasta with tofu and vegetables. As for snacks, I have trail mix with yogurt, or fruit with a nut butter or yogurt. Try out one of the vegetarian based protein and feel the difference!
If you are interested in working with a Nutrition Coach to discuss different protein options, call 301-314-5664 or email [email protected] to schedule your free session.