Nuts, nuts, 'n more!

Amidst "nut week" here at CFF, I've found myself going back to the question that I've been asked time and time again about good sources of vegetarian protein. Obviously, nuts being one of them, but we are #blessed with a variety of products to get versatile in the kitchen! 

So, let's go --> here's how to pick them...and which ones are worth your while...and most importantly, how to use them!

**Also, before we dig in, small disclaimer that I by no means promote a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle over any others, but follow a bit of a blended diet myself
and use a lot of these food items in place of meat very regularly**

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Those worth your while:

  • Soybeans and soy products: including but not limited to edamame, tofu, tempeh for more than 15 g per serving on each sitting paired with a good source of magnesium (mineral critical for muscle development!)
  • Seitan: earning the name "wheat-meat" as it's composed of mostly wheat, it packs 20-30 grams per serving and works well as a sausage replacement on pizzas or pastas
  • Nuts/nuts butters: super versatile and spanning many flavor profiles, there's bound to be one you'll enjoy -- walnuts contain some of the highest amounts of omega-3s for that much-needed brain boost 
  • Seeds: hemp, flax, pumpkin, sunflower, sacha inchi seeds -- make a great salad topper, overnight oat mixer and for good reason, pumpkin seeds have 18% of their calories coming from protein!
  • Amaranth/Quinoa: once you figure out how to pronounce these two, incorporating them in to meals, sweet and savory alike, is a breeze!
  • Other grains: brown rice, barley, farro, wheat berries -- the possibilities are endless! Pair these with beans for a complete protein to deliver your body all the amino acids it needs!
  • Beans: the magical fruit and fiber in a one stop shop. Beans are known for their iron and versatility -- you'll be seeing them more and more snuck into sweet dishes as a texture-enhancer that is also nutrient dense!
  • Dairy: greek yogurt, cottage cheese, various milk and milk alternatives. Usually packing 15-20 grams of protein per 1/2 cup or 6 oz serving! What's more, those on the higher fat-end of the spectrum will keep those feelings of satiety going longer than those without!
  • Veggies! Yes, veggies are an often surprising but hefty amount of protein, all things considered. Specifically, peas and broccoli! Peas boast an average of 8 grams per serving which is why they're now popping up in milks and protein powders, alike.

- by no means is this list fully comprehensive! just a round-up of my favorites that I've found easy to procure and produce without fuss! what're some of your faves? comment below! -


How to use them:

  • Crumbled on salad or in a stir fry - check out Pinch of Yum for her Crispy Tofu + Sesame Zoodles for prep inspo!
  • As a protein-topper in a bowl - give it a shot at Currito first before you experiment at home
  • In a taco! Of course, any of these options are #tacotuesdayapproved - Chipotle's sofritas are to die for IMO
  • Mixed into a casserole or lasagna - fellow Ohio blogger Hummusapien has a killer recipe for vegan lasagna
  • As a sweet side, tofu and cacao combined pudding form! (don't hate it till ya try it...)
  • Blended into a smoothie - silken tofu more easily blended in this case, I promise, there's virtually no taste!
  • The star of the show in chicken or tuna salad - Whole Foods salad bar always seems to have these on rotation
  • The "meat" of burger/patties - mixed with beans and all the fixings for a stellar protein + fiber combo. There are also 
  • Crumbled and seasoned for a vegan scrambled egg dish - if you're a cincy local, Sleepy Bee has a fantastic tofu scramble you'll want to get your hands on soon!
  • Mixed in as the protein source in soups! Try your next bowl of ramen or pho with tofu or tempeh, instead.
  • Last, but certainly not least and probably not all, DYK, tempeh can be seasoned and cooked to match the profile of bacon?? 😋🥓

*Featured Recipe*

Mexican-Inspired Spicy Pesto Pasta Bowl with Seitan & Taco Breadcrumbs

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Ingredients, combine the following:
1 cup Banza Pasta shells, cooked according to package instructions
1/4 cup spicy jalapeno pesto dressing (see below)
1/2 package of Upton's Natural Seitan (I used Chorizo)
1 bell pepper, sliced and sauteed // other veggies of your liking!
handful of microgreens
sprinkle of taco breadcrumbs
--toss cooked pasta in pesto. turn in seitan and veggies.
--serve over kale or other greens. sprinkle microgreens and taco breadcrumbs.
--may also top with hot sauce, avocado, or greek yogurt!
--above will make about 2 servings.

For the pesto dressing:
Take 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup pistachios, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tbsp white wine vinegar, 2 cups packed basil, 1 jalapeno, 2 cloves garlic, dash of hot sauce // salt & pepper --> begin by processing all ingredients except for oil; once at a good consistency, start adding oil slowly while motor still running. Continue until consistency is smooth!

For the taco breadcrumbs:
Take 1 slice Dave's Killer Bread or brand of your choosing (stale or not) and food process until small crumbs are formed. Mix with 1/4 cup cooked quinoa. Stir in 1-2 tbsp taco seasoning or your own blend of cumin/chili powder/garlic seasoning. Put into saucepan and over low-medium heat, lightly toss until crisped! Should take about 20 minutes.


Kayla Hansmann