I’m happy to introduce Bryana Piazza, today’s guest dietitian, who will be sharing expertise on protein in a plant-based diet. I love Bryana’s devotion to plants, and her post is a great reminder to us all to eat more of them. I’m also drooling over her stuffed mushroom recipe below!
Hi everyone! I’m Bryana and I am a registered dietitian from San Diego specializing in weight management. I have been a vegetarian for the past 20 years or so, and I recently made the switch to a vegan diet. I want to start off by saying that this post is not intended to shame people into adopting a vegan lifestyle, as I believe that everyone is entitled to their own dietary preferences and personal beliefs.
Eat More Plants
Personally, I prefer to use the term plant-based in regards to my diet versus saying that I am a vegan.
One reason that I prefer plant-based is because there are some vegetarians and vegans out there that barely eat any plants at all. Their meals include processed and pre-packaged foods such as mock chicken, with long ingredient lists and little nutritional value. I prefer to fill my plate with fresh fruits and vegetables, nut and seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
Also, I like a plant-based diet because even those that do enjoy meat can follow a plant-based diet! As a registered dietitian, I do not recommend to my patients to become a vegan or vegetarian, as this is unrealistic and not something that everyone wants to do. Instead, I recommend that they follow a plant-based diet, meaning to make the star of the meal the plants, not the meat. Everyone can use more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fiber, all of which come from plants.
From my experience as a registered dietitian, I have found that people are open to adding plant-based meals into their diet, however, are concerned that they are not getting adequate protein from these types of meals. Thus, the intention of this post is to share some plant-based protein sources to include in your meatless meals!
Protein And A Plant-Based Diet
I find that the reason people gravitate towards mock meat is because they want to make sure that they are getting enough protein. I cannot tell you how many people ask me on a daily basis, How do you get enough protein? People tend to forget that there is protein in plants too! Here are some great plant-based protein sources:
Soy: I prefer to eat whole sources of soy, rather than soy isolates. Soy isolates are typically found in mock meat products and protein bars. Whole sources of soy includes:
Tofu, Tempeh, Edamame
Nuts and seeds
Hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, etc.
Lentils, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans
Quinoa (although, technically a seed), bulgur, barley
It is also important to note how much protein we actually need. The Recommended Daily Allowance for protein in the United States is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Thus, a 135 pound women needs roughly around 49 grams of protein per day. Here a great graphic to show the protein content of some plant-based foods:
As you can see, it is relatively easy to meet your protein needs by eating plants!
Below you will find a delicious stuffed mushroom recipe that is packed with plant-based protein for you to try as your next plant-based meal!
Artichoke & Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms with a Creamy Hemp Dressing
Serves 2 people
For the mushrooms:
- 6 mini Portobello mushroom caps
- 4 cups of raw spinach, chopped
- 14 oz can of artichoke hearts, chopped
- 1.5 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
For the dressing:
- 5 tablespoons of hemp seeds
- 1 teaspoon of yellow miso
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- ¼ cup of water
- garlic powder
- Pre-heat oven to 350° F
- Clean and de-stem mushroom caps
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat in a medium skillet
- Add spinach, artichoke hearts, salt, and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted
- Toss mushrooms in a bowl with ½ tablespoon olive oil
- Place mushrooms on a baking sheet and stuff with the spinach and artichoke mixture
- Bake mushrooms for 15 minutes
- While the mushrooms are baking add hemp seeds, miso, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, water, pepper, and garlic powder into food processor and blend until smooth
- Once mushrooms are done baking, drizzle dressing over the top while the mushrooms are still hot
Here is the finished product!
I ended up serving my mushrooms with roasted yellow baby potatoes and roasted green beans. The hemp dressing is full of protein and healthy fats to keep you full and the mushrooms are a great meat substitute due to their texture. The total protein content per serving of this recipe is 20 grams, which is more than 1/3 of the average persons needs. I hope you enjoy these mushrooms as much as I do!
Bryana Piazza is a registered dietitian living in San Diego, CA. Bryana received a bachelors degree in Food and Nutrition from San Diego State University and a masters degree in Clinical Nutrition from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL. Currently, Bryana works as an outpatient dietitian for a surgical weight loss and medically supervised weight loss program.
Bryana follows a plant-based diet and believes in eating real, whole, un-processed foods! In her free time, Bryana loves to cook, stay active through hot yoga, running, and weight lifting, and spend time with her fiancé and two cats! Contact Bryana at [email protected].