Despite a plethora of plant-based protein sources being available, most people never really discover them unless they decide to eliminate animal sources of protein in their diet. That’s just too bad, because variety is the spice of life and limiting yourself to one source of protein is kind of boring! Besides, this salad doesn’t just have a token amount of protein; no, it has a whopping 32 grams of the stuff (you heard me, THIRTY TWO) and not only are they all plant-based, but they also form a complete amino acid profile. Take that, boring diet!
Unless you are veg(etari)an or have close friends who are, you might not be familiar with some great sources of protein that are probably staring you down in the face as we speak. Here’s how we made our high-protein salad so SUPER JACKED!
Spinach and broccoli are both known for being good vegetable sources of protein, although most of us aren’t about to eat the 11 cups of raw spinach required to get a fairly modest 10 grams of protein. Despite its rather small contribution, f you’re going to base your salad on a leafy green, you might as well pick one with protein, iron and a ton of other nutrients.
Rice is better known as a carbohydrate, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t also contain protein – about 3-5 g per 1/4 cup of uncooked rice. Whole grains like rice and quinoa also make salads feel more like a meal, and if you add the rice when it’s still warm it will even wilt the spinach slightly. Our favourite is black rice (found at Bulk Barn) because it’s so pretty, but we also use quinoa, wild rice and brown rice.
Pronounced “ed-a-ma-may” for the uninitiated, fresh soybeans are a popular appetizer at Japanese restaurants and usually served in the pod with a generous helping of sea salt. You can also find them shelled in the frozen vegetable section of most grocery stores, and just half a cup adds 11g of protein Quick tip: add them to the rice as it finishes cooking so you don’t need to thaw them in advance.
This is the shining star of our salad! Hemp seeds are one of the best sources of plant-based protein and also contain the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 in the proper ratios. Admittedly, they’re not cheap, but have you looked at the price of your steak lately? A quarter cup of hemp seeds adds about 13g of protein and 1600mg of omega-3s. Hemp seeds pretty much rock.
Putting it all together…
First of all, any salad needs some kind of fat to go along with it since all those lovely nutrients in vegetables are fat-soluble. Generally I’d say skip that fat-free dressing and live it up; however, this salad already has fats from the hemp seeds so you can skip the oil in the dressing if you like.
Secondly, raspberry-flavoured vinegar and olive oil is an awesome go-to salad dressing because it’s so simple and a little sweet. Mix up equal parts vinegar and oil with some salt and pepper, and add some shredded coconut if you have it available. Toss everything together with a small handful of dried fruit and serve to eat right away, or pack it in a leakproof container (Pyrex is great for this) and take it for lunch.
So let’s recap our protein sources:
- Spinach (4 cups): 3g
- Rice: (1/4 cup): 4g
- Edamame (1/2 cup): 11g
- Hemp seeds (1/4 cup): 13g
- Goji berries (1 Tablespoon): 1g
This high-protein salad will keep you full all afternoon. Let’s eat!
- 4 cups spinach
- ¼ cup rice
- ½ cup edamame
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- 1 tablespoon goji berries or dried fruit (optional)
- Bring a ½ cup of water to a boil in a small pot. Add the rice, cover with a lid and turn the heat to low for 15-20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. (Tip: make a bigger batch of rice, then store the rest in the fridge to easily assemble salads for the next few days).
- When the rice is done, remove it from the heat and add the frozen edamame; this has the double benefit of cooling the rice slightly and thawing the frozen edamame before it goes in with the rest of the salad.
- Roughly chop the spinach, then toss it together with the rice, edamame and hemp seeds in a large bowl. If you're taking this for lunch, layer the spinach, rice & edamame, hemp seeds and fruit in a large leak-proof container.
- Mix the dressing very well with a whisk or fork, then pour it over the salad. Toss the salad before serving and garnish it with the dried fruit.
Without oil: 503 cal | 19g fat