Vegetables That Are High In Protein

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I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately. Everywhere I’ve gone people have taken notice of my plant-based diet. Their first thought is always about protein.

“Where do you get your protein?”

If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me that question over the last two weeks I could buy a week’s worth of groceries.

I don’t mind the question. It gives me a chance to share about plant-based eating. Sometimes I forget that the plant-based diet is really a foreign concept to people.

I’ve already answered the question, “Can I get enough protein on a plant-based diet?” Today I want to talk about vegetables that are high in protein.

Do you worry about protein on a plant-based/vegan diet? Don't! There are a ton of vegetables that are high in protein.

Vegetables That Are High in Protein

When you consider the calorie ratio per cup of vegetables compared to the calorie ratio per cup of animal product, along with the other nutrients in vegetables it’s amazing how much of a protein punch veggies do pack. There is no doubt you can get all you need eating a fully whole-food, plant-based diet.

Just to make it easier to understand the veggies have been separated into five types: Dark green, red and orange, beans and peas, starchy, and other. This helps to separate out the different types and show which are often higher in protein than you thought.

Pay attention to the calorie content compared to the serving size and you’ll see that calorie for calorie you can get all the protein you need in veggies if you’re eating adequate calories for your dietary needs.

Disclaimer: We’ve made our best effort to make sure all information and amounts are correct. If you research you’ll see that even expert sources will list different numbers for calories, protein, etc.

Dark Green Vegetables

Arugula – 2 Cups has more than 1 gram of protein for only 12 calories. You can add arugula to soups and stews as well as salad. The peppery taste makes it great for stuffing in savory dishes to get plenty of additional bulk and nutrition in your meal.

Beet Greens – 1 cup of beet greens, the top of the beet that a lot of people toss out, offers 4 grams of protein for only 39 calories. You can add beet greens to anything you’d normally add greens, including smoothies.

Broccoli – 1 cup chopped has 2.6 grams for only 31 calories and all the vitamin C you need in a day. You can eat broccoli steamed, in casseroles, and even roasted. Eat all you want until you’re stuffed, you can’t overeat it.

Kale – 1 cup has 2.9 grams for only 33 calories, thankfully, since kale chips are now a thing. You want to add this to your diet not just for the protein but also for the vitamin A. One serving provides more than the RDA for most people.

Mustard Greens – 1 cup has 1.6 grams for only 15 calories; add all you want to your dishes. They are savory and taste best wilted. One cup raw mustard greens also provide more than 60 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements.

Spinach – 1 cup has 1 gram of protein for only 7 calories. Obviously, you can eat several cups of spinach without worrying about calories. You’ll also get your daily needs for vitamin A, C and iron met by eating spinach. It’s great in smoothies, casseroles and salads.

Red & Orange Vegetables

Carrots – 1 cup grated carrots will add 1 gram of protein to your dishes for only 45 calories. You can add carrots anyplace you want sweet without processed sugar such as marinara sauces, smoothies, and desserts.

Pumpkin Seeds – 1 ounce has 5 grams of protein for 126 calories and is great added to smoothies, making milk from, and adding to salads. They have the right amount of magnesium, copper, and zinc too. Make a smoothie with almond milk, banana and pumpkin seeds for a nutrition packed start, or end, to your day.

Squash – 1 cup chopped has 1.5 grams of protein with only 21 calories. Squash is good roasted, boiled, pureed, grated and added to stews, sauces, soups and more. It’s packed with vitamin A, thiamin niacin, fiber and more too.

Sweet Potato – 1 cup cubed offers 2.1 grams of protein for 114 calories is also a good source of vitamin A, B-6, calcium, potassium and more. You can enjoy a sweet potato savory or sweet, it’s up to you. You can even juice them.

Tomato – 1 cup chopped offers 1.6 grams of protein for only 32 calories and is full of other nutrients that you need every single day. Yes, technically it’s a fruit, but you’re more likely to enjoy it as a vegetable cooked into a sauce, or chopped up into a salad.

Beans & Peas

Black Beans – 1 cup boiled black beans have 16 grams of protein for 240 calories of delicious goodness. Enjoy in a taco, as hummus, bean dip, soup, and even cold on top of your salad to add some protein to your greens.

Edamame — 1 cup cooked edamame has 17 grams of protein for 189 calories, which is really a great ratio. You can eat them steamed or boiled alone or in salads. Add them to stir-fries for a huge protein packed punch. You can even make an edamame dip or hummus with them.

Lentils – 1 cup boiled lentils has 18 grams of protein and 230 calories and can be enjoyed in many different ways. One of the favorite ways most people enjoy lentils is with lentil chili over rice which offers even more of a protein packed punch.

Pea Pods – 1 cup has 3 grams of protein for only 41 calories. You can eat them in salads, as a fun snack a lot like you might enjoy edamame, (with fewer calories) and in stir-fries. Pea pods also offer many other nutritional benefits such as providing almost 100 percent of your RDA of vitamin C.

Sugar Snap Peas – 1 cup has 3 grams of protein for only 41 calories just like pea pods. They are a lot like pea pods just shaped differently in that they are round. Some people think they’re sweeter too.

Starchy Vegetables

Green Peas – 1 cup has 8 grams for only 118 calories while also offering most of your vitamin C needs. You can eat green peas in soups, stews, casseroles, alone, on salad, and however you want them. They’re good anytime you want them. If you feel like you need a sugary snack, eat a bowl of peas.

Lima Beans – 1 cup has 15 grams of protein for only 217 calories in addition to iron, vitamin B-6 and magnesium. Lima beans are good alone, added to soups, stews and enjoyed on cold salads.

Potato – 1 large baked potato has 7 grams of protein and 283 calories plus all the vitamin C you need for the day. You can add potato to everything you make including sauces to thicken them and of course baked.

Other Vegetables

 Artichokes – 1 large artichoke has 5 grams of protein and only 76 calories, which is amazing. Add to your pizza, in salads, eat as a snack alone – but add artichokes to your day and you won’t be sad or protein deficient.

Asparagus – 1 cup asparagus has 3 grams protein and only 27 calories and is good as a soup, roasted, on pizza, and in stir-fries. You really can’t eat too much asparagus and you need to as well because their also high in vitamin K which is good for your bones.

Brussels Sprouts –1 Cup has 3 grams for only 38 calories which means you can eat quite a bit before you get full. They’re great roasted, braised, and chopped on a salad. Many people have a love hate relationship with Brussels sprouts but there are so many ways to prepare you can surely find a way you enjoy.

Cauliflower – 1 cup chopped has 2.1 grams of protein for only 27 calories and is so good for you that there have been reported shortages due to the proliferation of cauliflower hot wing, and BBQ recipes going viral on the Internet.

Chinese Cabbage – 1 cup, shredded has 1.1 gram of protein for only 9 calories. You can eat a boat load of this cabbage in all kinds of dishes to get your daily quota of not only protein, but mouth-watering goodness.

Sprouts — 1 cup of sprouts ads about 1.3 grams of protein with only 8 calories which is amazing. Plus, you can make sprouts at home easily for pennies on the dollar and use them in all your dishes.

Zucchini – 1 cup chopped has 1.5 grams of protein for only 21 calories. You can cook it or eat it raw. It’s great shredded and added to sauces, casseroles, and even mixed with corn and made into a fritter with your waffle iron.

Big Picture

I created this post because people are always concerned about protein. My advice is Don’t Worry About It! Focus on eating a good variety of whole, plant-based foods and you’ll get enough protein. If you eat enough calories every day you’ll get plenty of every nutrient that you need to be healthy. If you need some recipe ideas check out my Recipe Page.

If you have friends or family members that are concerned about your protein intake feel free to forward them this article.


 

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Comments

  1. Per your other article, a 130 lb. woman needs 50-176 grams of protein per day. I don’t think I could eat 50-176 cups of grated carrots daily! 🙂

    • Ionno I’d eat that many carrots, given the opportunity. But as with all things, moderation; you’re supposed to eat a variety of foods, incliding beans and seeds, which are also mentioned.

  2. What about grains? Aren’t they included in a plant-based diet?

    • Hi Susan, Grains are included. This article was more veggie focused though. Typically, grains are in their own category. I’m a big fan of oats, brown rice, and quinoa.

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