Can I Get Enough Protein If I Eat a Vegetarian Diet?

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Can I Get Enough Protein If I Eat a Vegetarian Diet?
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Can I Get Enough Protein If I Eat a Vegetarian Diet?

Pesto-Topped Grilled Summer Squash

Toasty rustic pesto takes simple grilled squash from ordinary to exceptional with tangy lemon and fresh garlic. Serve as a side dish or chop the grilled squash, combine with the pesto and toss with pasta for a light entree.

Click here for the recipe: Pesto-Topped Grilled Summer Squash

Chickpeas With Tomatoes and Carrots

Starting with dried chickpeas instead of canned ones makes all the difference in this citrusy side dish. Although soaking and cooking the chickpeas takes a bit more time, the effort is minimal.

Click here for the recipe: Chickpeas With Tomatoes and Carrots

Penne alla Primavera

Penne tossed with spring vegetables, such as carrots, morel mushrooms, asparagus, peas and fava beans, along with loads of fresh herbs is a perfect example of Mario Batali’s rustic approach to great-tasting Italian food.

Click here for the recipe: Penne alla Primavera

Pecan & Mushroom Burgers

Filled with toasted pecans, vinegar-splashed mushrooms and bulgur, these burgers have an earthy, nutty character that pairs perfectly with the luxurious blue cheese sauce.

Click here for the recipe: Pecan & Mushroom Burgers

Chilled Tomato Soup With Tarragon Crème Fraîche

Super sweet tomatoes will make this cold soup extra-delicious. But to enhance the flavor of even less-than-perfect produce, add tomato paste, which has a rich, concentrated taste.

Click here for the recipe: Chilled Tomato Soup With Tarragon Crème Fraîche

Grilled Asparagus With Pepper Zabaglione

Mario Batali chars his asparagus on the grill, then serves it with a super rich zabaglione sauce spiked with black pepper.

Click here for the recipe: Grilled Asparagus With Pepper Zabaglione

Green-Lentil Curry

This lentil-vegetable curry here is a Western-style main course. Eaten over rice with yogurt, it's a very satisfying meal.

Click here for the recipe: Green-Lentil Curry

Greek Salad Sandwiches

This is Greek salad perfection: Top warm bread with garlicky red-pepper tzatziki (cucumber-yogurt spread) and a piquant combo of cucumbers, olives, peperoncini, tomatoes, radishes, greens and feta.

Click here for the recipe: Greek Salad Sandwiches

Fusilli With Creamed Leek and Spinach

This delicious pasta is fast and easy to prepare. But don't worry, speed doesn't hurt its flavor.

Click here for the recipe: Fusilli With Creamed Leek and Spinach

Eggplant Relish

Prepare this dish and have a tasty dinner in less than 30 minutes.

Click here for the recipe: Eggplant Relish

Easy Hummus With Tahini

Hummus can do more than cling to a carrot stick. Grace Parisi 's sublime version adds nutty flavor to potato salad, eggs and soup.

Click here for the recipe: Easy Hummus With Tahini

Creamless Creamed Corn With Mushrooms and Lemon

Grate half of the corn in this recipe to make a luxurious puree that thickens without cream. Tip: Scraping corn cobs with the dull side of a knife removes the juices.

Click here for the recipe: Creamless Creamed Corn With Mushrooms and Lemon

Tandoori Tofu

A tandoori-inspired spice rub and smokiness from the grill flavor these tofu “steaks.” While you’re there, grill some vegetables, too, to serve alongside.

Click here for the recipe: Tandoori Tofu

Whole-Wheat Couscous With Parmesan & Peas

Couscous makes an almost-instant side dish. Happily, the whole-wheat variety is just as fast to prepare as regular couscous. Lemon zest is a delicious accent to nutty Parmesan in this Italian-inspired couscous.

Click here for the recipe: Whole-Wheat Couscous With Parmesan & Peas

Honey-Soy-Glazed Vegetable With Crispy Mushrooms

Toss turnips and radishes with a mix of honey and soy sauce and serve them with sautéed shiitake mushrooms that have an ingenious, crispy rice-cracker coating.

Click here for the recipe: Honey-Soy-Glazed Vegetable With Crispy Mushrooms

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By: Rachael Moeller Gorman


Not a problem, say doctors. "Protein is not a major concern for a vegetarian who's eating a wide diversity of food, particularly one who's using milk and eggs," says Winston Craig, Ph.D., M.P.H., of Andrews University in Michigan.

In general, the recommended daily intake for protein is 0.8 gram per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 gram per pound. To account for differences in the way the body processes plant proteins, nutrition experts sometimes up this a bit—to 1 g/kg or 0.45 g/lb—for vegans. (One can easily meet these needs by including some source of protein—beans and other legumes, whole grains, nuts, fortified "milks"—at every meal and snack.)


Proteins are chains of amino acids, some of which the body can't make and must get from food, called "essential" amino acids. Protein is found in almost every food we eat, including plant foods like beans, grains, seeds and nuts (as well as vegetables, to a lesser degree), but most plant proteins are "incomplete" proteins, meaning that they contain some, but not all, of these essential amino acids in adequate amounts; eating a variety of plant foods usually ensures all essential proteins are consumed.

Soybeans, on the other hand, contain all the essential amino acids at high levels. Doctors used to think that you needed to eat adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids together in the same meal to get a complete protein. But research has shown that as long as you get all the amino acids at some point during the day, you'll undoubtedly get all the protein your body needs.


"Unless a vegan is eating cucumber and white rice and that's about all he's eating, protein is typically not a concern," says Craig.

Check out the slideshow above for our best vegetarian recipes.


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