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TOPIC: Low Calorie, High Protein, Vegetarian Foods.

December 28, 2010 7:36 PM
As a vegetarian it's a constant battle to eat enough protein. I just don't get enough. I usually don't worry about it, but I've been pretty tired lately, and am thinking it might have something to do with a lack of protein. This is a completely uneducated guess, but either way I should be eating more. Does anyone know of any low cal, meat-free options to increase my protein intake? The same goes for iron. If anyone knows any iron rich foods for my anemia, I'd love to hear them!

Thanks in advance!!
December 28, 2010 7:39 PM
Natural peanut butter should help your protein intake. It is very high in protein and has healthy amino acids
December 28, 2010 7:42 PM
some of my favsflowerforyou - nonfat cottage cheese, nonfat greek yogurt, hard boiled eggs, vege burgers, silk soymilk, whole wheat torilla pizza with nonfat cheese, whey protein shakes, nuts

vegetarian diets can also be low in vitamin b12.. ive been supplementing my B vitamins and feel that I have much more energy now.
December 28, 2010 7:42 PM
I love Kashi Golean - one cup has 140 calories and 13 grams of protein. Delicious with some almond milk.
December 28, 2010 7:45 PM
Do you take a B vitamin supplement? Because there are some B Vitamins only available in meats or supplements and are responsible for energy levels.

Also, looking at your diary, at least the days you've filled in, it looks like you may not be eating enough period. Make sure your net intake is close to 1200- you could be harming your body otherwise.

As far as high protein vegetarian foods- I would recommend greek yogurt, particularly Chobani (not to brand hoc but I've tried like 100 kinds and this is sooo thick and yummy)
December 28, 2010 7:48 PM

As far as high protein vegetarian foods- I would recommend greek yogurt, particularly Chobani (not to brand hoc but I've tried like 100 kinds and this is sooo thick and yummy)

CHOBANI is amazing!!! i love the strawberry and the pomegrante.. the plain is super good with apples or berries.
December 28, 2010 8:05 PM
If you like portobello mushrooms, I have a great recipe:

1 portobello mushroom cap (large) sliced to bite size pieces
1 slice red onion (optional) apx 1/8-1/4 inch thick, break into 'rings'
1/4 c. Baby spinach (add more or less as desired)
1 oz. Vegetarian Herb Goat Cheese (soft)
.25oz Part-Skim Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (optional)
Salt/Pepper to taste

1/2 Tbsp Butter or Substitue
Splash Balsamic Vinegar

French Baguette (4 oz) sliced in half

In a pan melt butter and saute' onion until slightly tender, add sliced mushrooms and balsamic vinegar. Continue to saute until tender. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add spinach at the very end, just to wilt if desired.

In in the broiler or toaster, brown the baguette. Once bread is browned, spread goat cheese evenly.

Fill bread with saute'd mushrooms, onions and spinach add mozzarella cheese if desired.

December 28, 2010 8:41 PM
I personally love Morning Star veggie products. They are so delicious! I also drink a lot of Muscle Milk. You can never go wrong with some protein bars or some low calorie dairy products.
December 28, 2010 8:59 PM
Edemame, it's also a complete protein.
December 28, 2010 9:04 PM
Some of my faves have already been mentioned, like cottage cheese (although I'm not sure if it's made with animal rennet or not), and Silk or 8th Continent light vanilla or light chocolate soymilk (not a fan of the original myself, unless baking with it). Some people don't like mock meats because of the processing, which is understandable, but they are great protein sources. Make some Sloppy Joes or tacos with Boca or Morningstar grounds, and one serving is only about 100 calories, plus your bun or shell.

Protein bars and powders are also good, but beware some of them. I was hooked on the Muscle Milk Light vanilla toffee crunch, until I read the wrapper: gelatin. They're not vegetarian. But a lot of brands are, just read your ingredients.

Might you also be anemic? My iron started dropping when I went back to being vegetarian. I work at a blood bank, and when it's slow, sometimes we'll test hematocrit on each other, and mine went from 42 to 37 in a matter of a couple weeks. So, I take a supplement a few times a week, and try to eat iron rich foods and haven't had a problem with it since.
December 29, 2010 4:42 AM
All of the above, plus pulses: chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas. Soups made from them, salads (green lentils & chickpeas 1:1, one chopped red onion, and dressing).
December 29, 2010 7:28 AM
Brussel sprouts, peas, have a lot of protein! One of my favorite staple meals (especially when I'm home a lot and tend to pick) is jasmine rice, peas, and winter squash (or butternut squash). I mash em all together and chow.

I was shocked at the 10g of protein in vegetarian split pea soup, too, btw. Low calorie, low fat, vegetarian, and delicious!

Finally, I made this ridiculously tasty slow cooker vegetarian chili:

1/2 cup olive oil
4 onions, chopped
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14 ounce) package firm tofu, drained and cubed
4 (15.5 ounce) cans black beans, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
6 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco™

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions; cook and stir until they start to become soft. Add the green peppers, red peppers, garlic and tofu; cook and stir until vegetables are lightly browned and tender, the whole process should take about 10 minutes.

Pour the black beans into the slow cooker and set to Low. Stir in the vegetables and tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, vinegar and hot pepper sauce. Stir gently and cover. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours.


Serving Size 1/8 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe 8
Amount Per Serving
Calories 455
Calories from Fat 164
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18.2g 28 %
Saturated Fat 2.7g 13 %
Cholesterol 0mg 0 %
Sodium 1645mg 66 %
** Potassium 1395mg 39 %
Total Carbohydrates 58.2g 19 %
Dietary Fiber 22g 88 %
Protein 21.2g 42 %
** Sugars 4.9g
Vitamin A 74 %
Vitamin C 145 %
Calcium 43 %
Iron 104 %
** Thiamin 52 %
** Niacin 61 %
** Vitamin B6 49 %
** Magnesium 50 %
** Folate 106 %

I only eat a cup at a time, and when I put this recipe into MFP, I got 255 cals, 9 g fat, 12g protein for this recipe.
December 29, 2010 2:11 PM
If you are tired all the time it might not be your protein. You should look at the basics like are you getting 8 hours of good uninterupted sleep a night? If you are still tired maybe time to see your doctor and get a check up and maybe test your iron levels, thyroid, inflammation levels, blood sugars, etc.

Regarding iron levels eat lots of leafy greens. Head off to the farmers marjet and stock up on good qualtiy fresh spinach and any thing else dark green. Iron intake works best in conjunction with vitamin c. So get some fresh fruit while your are at it. May be look at getting an iron supplement (talk to your doctor first or your pharmacist).

Regarding protein it is difficult at times to get your protein in via tofu, legumes, etc. try drinking a couple of protein shakes a day. If you are a lacto vegetarian, buy some whey protein isolate. If you are a vegan, get some pea protein isolate. It is the least crap tasting of the vegan protein powders (choc flavored is best).

Lastly here is a trick if you are feeling down - eat lots of protein during the day and then eat something sweet for supper and get a good nights sleep. In a week or 2 you will feel better. The way it works is the insulin surge happens while you sleep and takes the amino acids collected in your blood stream from protein during the day up thru the blood brain barrier and helps build up serrotinin in your brain. This makes you feel happier and have more energy.

good luck
December 29, 2010 2:33 PM
Legumes (beans and peas) are a great source of protein and they are also very high in iron. If you are feeling very tired there is a chance that you have iron-deficiency anemia. It might be worth it to get that tested. I had that problem during my three pregnancies and I felt so much more energetic once I got on iron supplements. It also helps to eat iron-rich foods with vitamin C to help your body to absorb the iron. Like, have a bowl of lentil soup and an orange in the same meal.

If you eat dairy, cottage cheese and greek yogurt have tons of protein. I also like mozarella cheese sticks because they are pre-portioned snacks with protein.

Nuts are good but are more fat than protein, so I eat them for the healthy fats.

Someone mentioned B vitamins - this is only an issue if you are vegan, you will need to supplement your diet with vitamin B-12. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in eggs and dairy products so you don't need to worry about it if you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
December 29, 2010 2:35 PM
Try Seitan - it is a vegetarian protein made from wheat gluten. It's SUPER easy to make at home - I'll make a log (roll?) and it will last me all week for my lunches. One slice (1/8 of the log) is about 150 calories, 20g of protein. It's super delicious. This is the only recipe I've ever used -
There are others out there with different spices, but many of them boil the dough, which really turned me off. I love that this recipe bakes it. It takes awhile to bake, but it's SO worth it.
December 29, 2010 8:20 PM
Do you ever eat Quinoa? It is very high in protein. Also beans are pretty low cal and a good source of protein. Another good idea is to make scrambled eggs or omelettes with only one whole egg and 1 or 2 egg whites.
December 30, 2010 1:03 PM
I am also a vegetarian in your situation. My doctor wants me to get at least 40-50g protein per day. I found that it was not a problem if I started my day with a protein shake (I use 1 scoop GNC Pro Performance® AMP Amplified Wheybolic Extreme 60™ - Chocolate) in the morning (20g) with lite soy milk (10g). Then for lunch I'll have a veggie burger or some soy supplement. Lately I've been loving the Italian Sausage links from Tofurkey. THEY HAVE 29G of PROTIEN!!!! So right there I've got 59g!!! That doesn't include veggies, cheese, and other things that I could eat during the day. I've noticed a huge improvement in my energy level as well as fitness performance.
January 26, 2011 7:56 AM
mmmmm saving this for the chilli recipe
April 2, 2013 6:04 PM
I have been a vegetarian for 9 years and I used to really struggle with getting both enough protein and enough iron, but I don't anymore, because I've learned how to do it right!

Try incorporating:

soy: eat organic, because non-organic soy is almost always genetically modified), including TEMPEH, tofu--sprouted tofu gives you more protein (but, thus more calories) than non-sprouted, and edamame

greek yogurt: nonfat plain is lowest in calories and highest in protein than other varieties

beans: try black, kidney, chickpeas (garbanzo)


quinoa, bulgur wheat, amaranth, whole wheat, and other whole grains


and nuts--which are highly caloric and do not give you as much protein for the calories as the foods mentioned above, but they do have essential acids and vitamins and healthy fats, so don't cut them out completely!

If you incorporate at least two of each of these foods listed above into each of your meals every day, along with fresh vegetables and fruits, you will be golden... and should feel much better!
Edited by poopgirldogkiller On April 2, 2013 6:05 PM
April 2, 2013 6:09 PM
Tofurkey, Mushroom Veggie Burgers, Hummus, PB2, Almonds! Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!
September 19, 2014 9:19 PM
Here is a chart to help you out with being vegan/vegetarian and nutritional needs, etc:) Hope this helps:)
Edited by MrsLady30 On September 19, 2014 9:37 PM


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