5 Tasty, Easy-To-Cook Vegetarian Recipes That Are Better Than Chicken As A Protein Source

Lockdown 2.0 is upon us! We can't go out but that's a small sacrifice when all of us are trying to flatten the Covid-19 curve.

But the thing that's making fitness freaks…well, freak out is the fact that they aren't getting to eat chicken! Shops are shut, online delivery is still spotty and if you've moved back home for the lockdown, then your mother isn't letting you bring chicken and eggs into the house! 

Well, what if I told you that you can get your precious protein even from vegetarian sources? What if you could keep your gains and even make some progress eating everyday vegetarian foods?

Here's the good news – you CAN absolutely eat vegetarian food and get as much protein as chicken! Trust me, I should know – I'm a 100% vegetarian and I owe all my muscle to these foods.

Here are the top 5 vegetarian sources of protein (and some easy-to-cook recipes that even you could make!):

1. SOYA NUGGETS/CHUNKS

Vegetarian Recipes Packing More Protein Than Chicken© iStock

Forget all the stories which say that men shouldn't eat soya or that it'll give you moobs! Soya is an excellent source of whole protein and is a must-have food if you're a vegetarian. Just 40 grams of soya nuggets delivers 20 grams of high-quality protein. Compare that to chicken: 100 grams of boneless chicken breast gives you about 22 grams of protein. It's also an inexpensive food besides being a rich source of fibre. (Here's an interesting fact: in Japan, soya is called the "meat of the fields!")

Recipe: Soya Nuggets in Gravy

a. Soak 40 grams soya nuggets in hot water and keep aside for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze out drain the water by pressing the nuggets in your hands.

b. Add oil/butter to a pan. Sauté onions, tomatoes and ginger-garlic paste till they're cooked through. Add turmeric, red chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, as per taste. Add water and bring to a simmer.

c.  Now, add the soya nuggets. Cover with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.

d.  Add salt and garam masala as per taste. Serve hot with rice or roti.

2. PANEER BHURJI

Vegetarian Recipes Packing More Protein Than Chicken© iStock

Made from milk, paneer is a great addition to your diet. It's easily available and can be stored in the fridge for days. 110 grams of fresh paneer contains 20 grams of protein. Plus, it's a versatile and tasty food that can be eaten in a variety of ways – fried, with vegetables, as a gravy or even made into mithai!

Recipe: Paneer Bhurji

a. In a frying pan, heat oil/butter. Add cumin seeds till they pop.

b.  Saut√© onion, tomatoes and all the regular spices (check the soya nuggets recipe).

c.  Once cooked through, add grated paneer to the pan and mix well.

d.  Add a tablespoon of water and cover with a lid

e.  Add salt and garam masala. Serve hot.

3. CHEESE FRUIT SALAD

Vegetarian Recipes Packing More Protein Than Chicken© Unsplash

If we are talking dairy, then we have to mention cheese. They say cheese makes everything better, but did you know that it makes a great stand-alone snack? 1 cheese cube contains 4 grams of protein – that's almost as much protein as an egg! In fact, you could even say that cheese is a near-perfect substitute for eggs. Plus, it's easy to purchase, store, easy to eat. 

Recipe: Cheese Fruit Salad

a. Cut the cheese cubes into 4 to 6 smaller pieces.

b. Peel and chop any fruits of your choice (Crunchy apples, bananas and oranges are an excellent combination).

c. Add to a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper, chaat masala/a squeeze of lemon.

d. Add the cheese and mix well. Bon appetite! 

4. LENTILS

Vegetarian Recipes Packing More Protein Than Chicken© iStock

This one's going to make your mom so happy! Our everyday Toor Dal is also a good source of protein. To get 20 grams of protein, you'd need to eat 90 grams of dal. And not just toor dal – almost every lentil has pretty much the same protein content. So, dig in!

Recipe: Simple Dal

a.    Wash and soak toor dal for 30 minutes.

b.    Add to a pressure cooker with a pinch of turmeric and enough water to cover the dal. (Pro tip: do not add salt, as it slows down the cooking process). Cook for 4-5 whistles.

c.    Once the cooker has released its pressure, open the lid and turn on the flame. Add water as needed.

d.    Add the regular spices and salt (skip the ginger-garlic paste). Bring to a rolling boil.

e.    Optional: Add a tadka of cumin/mustard seeds and ghee. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander and a sprig of curry leaves. Goes well with hot, steamed rice.

5. BEANS & RICE

Vegetarian Recipes Packing More Protein Than Chicken© iStock

Here's a little secret that not many people know – homemade rajma chaawal is a complete source of protein and is a staple food for many bodybuilders. Here's another advantage: it's the ultimate comfort food and guaranteed to keep the lockdown blues away!

Recipe: Rajma

a. Soak rajma overnight or at least 6-8 hours.

b. Add rajma and water to a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Then, reduce the flame to the low and cook for 4 more whistles.

c. In a separate pot, add oil/ghee/butter. Add cumin seeds. When they crackle, add onions, tomato puree, ginger-garlic paste and all the regular spices. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.

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d. Add the rajma, add salt and water, and cook on a medium flame with the lid on for another 15 minutes.

e. Garnish with garam masala and crushed kasuri methi. Serve hot with white rice.

Here are some more vegetarian sources of protein that give you 20 grams of high-quality protein:

Milk – 650 ml

Tofu – 250 grams

Greek Yoghurt – 400 grams

So, if vegetarian food is all you can eat during this lockdown, make smart choices to preserve your gains and include these items in your diet. They're healthy, cheap and mummy-approved!

Author Bio: 

Utsav Agrawal is a fitness & nutrition expert and a Coach with Fittr, India's leading online fitness platform. An obese teenager who used to weigh 130 kgs, he has not only transformed himself but also helped nearly 700 people get fit.

You can reach out to him on utsav@fittr.com and follow him on Instagram and Facebook 

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