Having just gotten through my second not quite vegan pregnancy, I know the struggle is real when it comes to getting the protein you need. Although I normally eat dairy and eggs, both turned my stomach with this pregnancy, so two of my go-to vegetarian protein options the first time around were off the table (literally!) this time.
Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy by Reed Mangels is a comprehensive resource for anyone navigating the world of vegan pregnancy nutrition. Not only does it have trimester-by-trimester nutritional advice for expectant moms, it also has over 50 recipes for vegan meals. Below, the author shares some simple ways to add more protein to your day when you’re pregnant. Or even when you’re not–they work for anyone!
Protein in Vegan Foods
Some vegan foods that are especially high in protein are soybeans, lentils, and tempeh. These foods have 18 or more grams of protein in a serving—a cup of soybeans or lentils or 4 ounces of tempeh. Other foods that provide generous amounts of protein (10–20 grams per serving) include tofu, veggie burgers, and cooked dried beans. Soy milk, peanut butter, soy yogurt, and quinoa are all good sources of protein as well. Vegetables, whole grains, pasta, almond butter, and nuts and seeds are other good foods to add to your protein intake.
There are some easy ways to incorporate good sources of protein into your daily meal plan. These are all highly nutritious foods, so by adding them you’re adding not just protein but a host of vitamins and minerals as well.
- Spread some peanut butter or other nut butter on your toast or bagel; peanut butter can even top oatmeal—add a spoonful of jelly for PB and J oatmeal.
- Blend soft or silken tofu with soy milk and fruit (fresh, frozen, or canned) for a quick smoothie.
- Use soy milk in place of water to prepare hot cereals.
- Mix things up with a bowl of quinoa instead of oatmeal.
- Replace water or other liquids in your favorite muffin and pancake recipes with soy milk.
- On more leisurely mornings, try a tofu scramble or quiche for breakfast.
- Toss some chickpeas or black beans with your salad.
- Use a flavored hummus in place of mayo as a savory sandwich spread.
- Prepare a vegan cream soup with soy milk.
- Add extra crunch to a peanut butter sandwich by sprinkling on coarsely chopped peanuts or other nuts.
- Pack protein-rich leftovers to reheat at lunchtime.
- Purée white beans or soft tofu with your favorite tomato sauce and serve over whole-grain pasta.
- Top baked potatoes with a spoonful of plain soy yogurt and some chopped chives.
- Top rice, pasta, or vegetables with a peanut sauce (homemade or purchased).
- Add chickpeas or vegan pepperoni to takeout or homemade veggie no-cheese pizza.
- Experiment with quinoa in dishes that use rice or other grains.
- Toss vegan stir-fry strips or homemade seitan with stir-fried vegetables.
- Make a batch of trail mix using a variety of nuts and dried fruits. Add soy nuts for a protein boost.
- Spread apple or pear slices with nut butters.
- Dip baby carrots and jicama strips into hummus or refried beans.
- Try different brands of vegan energy bars until you find one or more that suit you.
- Eat breakfast for a snack by having a bowl of cold cereal with soy milk.
If you like to bake, you can boost the protein in breads and muffins by adding soy flour. For yeast-raised breads, put 2 tablespoons of soy flour in your 1-cup measuring cup and then fill the cup with the flour your recipe calls for. Repeat until you’ve measured all of the recipe’s flour. Since soy flour does not contain gluten, which gives bread its structure, it cannot completely replace wheat flour. For quick breads or muffins, replace up to a quarter of the flour with soy flour.
You’ll probably think of even more ways to add protein-rich soy products, beans, seitan, nuts, and nut butters to your meals and snacks.
Excerpted from Your Complete Vegan Pregnancy by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. Copyright © 2019 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Used with permission of the publisher, Adams Media, a division of Simon & Schuster. All rights reserved.1