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How to Pack Your Salads with Protein, Plus a Recipe!

When deciding whether or not to go plant-based, many people fear their diet will lack protein once meat is eliminated. Regardless of your reason to remove meat from your diet, it is important to understand some other sources of protein. While there are plenty of versions of plant-based burgers, sandwiches, and soups, when people start eating plant-based they usually need some help building a protein-packed salad. If you feel like you may be stuck on some other ways to “beef” up your greens without the beef, I have some options for you.

Below are five plant-based protein sources to add to your hearty salad:

1. Nuts

salad_protein_beans_seeds_greens_healthy_picA simple and delicious way to get protein into your salad is to simply throw some nuts on top after adding in all of your desired veggies. Nuts are also high in plant-based, monounsaturated fat, which lowers blood cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. Give almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans, or walnuts a chance in your next salad! As a bonus: it’s as simple as soaking and mashing to make your own raw nut “cheeses” to add a flavor punch to your salad.

2. Seeds

Similar to nuts, seeds are a very easy way to ensure protein is added to your salad. They are also high in copper, magnesium, and manganese. Sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, and chia seeds are just a few different types to experiment with.

3. Beans and Legumes

An inexpensive way to get protein into your diet, beans and legumes are also typically high in fiber, calcium, and iron. Remember to soak your beans before cooking them to get the maximum nutrition possible. Some delicious ones to give a try are black beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

4. Tofu

This is a common meat substitute people add to get the protein they need in their diet. It not only provides you with protein but is a great source of calcium and vitamin E. Always go for non-GMO.

5. Quinoa

A great superfood to add into your diet if you haven’t already! Quinoa can easily be mixed with greens and other veggies to make a filling salad. It has more protein than rice, millet, or wheat. It is gluten-free and a complex carbohydrate to help keep you full longer.

As you can see, these are quite simple and stress-free ways to include plant-based protein into your next meal. You may also notice that besides being packed with protein, these are great resources for many other vitamins and other nutrients! Not only will you be filling the void from meat but also adding even more nutritious elements into your diet! For a unique, new salad, try my Napa Cabbage Salad recipe. The main sources of protein here are the edamame beans and seeds!


Napa Cabbage Salad

What’s in it?


  • 1 whole napa cabbage, washed and sliced into shreds
  • Optional: 1 cup non-GMO edamame, shelled and cooked
  • 1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup arame, soaked for 20 minutes and drained, or 1 sheet of nori, chopped


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon San-J tamari
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 small or medium onion, grated
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

How it’s Made:

Place the cabbage in a large salad bowl with the edamame. In a smaller bowl, combine all the ingredients for the dressing and mix well.

Pour the dressing over the salad mixture in the bowl, then top with the nuts and seeds and toss.

Serve immediately.

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