Protein-Packed Confetti Quinoa


Cheap and Easy…


It’s only a good thing when you’re talking about DINNER! ;)


If you happened to miss my post yesterday, I discussed the many sources of plant-based protein out there. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, there are actually plenty of protein sources available to those following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Two of my personal favorite sources of protein happen to be quinoa and edamame. Not only do these taste delicious, but they also have all 9 essential amino acids that the body can obtain from diet ALONE. This recipe below is a quick, easy, and cheap way to toss together a protein source that can be eaten on its own as a meal, added as a side dish, or thrown on top of salads.

It’s so colorful, doesn’t it remind you of confetti?!

The whole recipe makes a pretty big batch, which is great because you can whip it up on the weekend and keep it in the fridge all week long. It can be eaten both hot or chilled. My favorite happens to be the chilled version, but I’ll let you be the judge!

Now you have NO EXCUSES for not getting in your protein ;)



  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (you can use water, but the vegetable stock gives the quinoa a ton of flavor. I use Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 1 cup canned/or frozen corn (thawed)
  • 1 cup shelled edamame (thawed)
  • 1 can all-natural, organic, diced tomatoes (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1/2 cup all-natural, organic tomato sauce (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional, but it definitely gives the quinoa a yummy and nutty/cheesy flavor)
  • Sprinkle of crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 whole avocado, diced (optional– but adds a source of healthy fat plus some extra protein)
  • Heat the quinoa and vegetable stock in a pot on high until it comes to a full boil.
  • Reduce the quinoa to medium heat and cover 10-15 minutes until liquid evaporates. Fluff with a fork.
  • Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl (If making the “cold version,” cool quinoa for an hour in refrigerator and then follow the rest of the steps.  If making the warm version, continue with the rest of the steps now).
  • Add in the corn, edamame, can of tomatoes, and 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Mix well.
  • Mix in the spices and nutritional yeast.
  • Gently fold in the ripe avocado (be careful not to mush it!).


Pretty easy, huh?


Healthfully yours,
Ashley Michelle




But WHERE Do You Get Your Protein??|mt:0|

Credit: iStockphoto- Microsoft Partner




Ah. The age-old question for vegetarians and vegans alike.


If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “aren’t you afraid you aren’t getting enough protein?” when I tell them I’m vegan, well, I’d have a pair of these Louboutins in my closet ;) .


I suppose the protein question  isn’t completely unfounded –after all, our bodies DO require protein in order to maintain/build muscle mass, regenerate/repair cells,  keep our immune systems strong, and prevent fatigue. The problem is, many people automatically assume vegans and vegetarians don’t have many or enough options for protein sources, and therefore we must struggle to get enough of it in our diets.


Well, I’m here to tell you DON’T WORRY!


There are plenty of ways to consume a perfectly healthy amount of protein while following a plant-based diet.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average man needs 56 grams of protein a day and the average woman needs 46 grams. Protein is certainly an integral part of our diets (as are fats, carbohydrates, and fruits/veggies), but I believe it is wise to keep in mind that these numbers are very flexible. Some people may require more or less protein than average. Because every body is extraordinarily different, everyone’s needs will naturally vary depending upon factors like height, weight, age, and level of activity– not to mention, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you like visuals, I found an interesting chart here that gives a pretty cool little breakdown of average protein needs by body weight and activity level. As you can see, it’s pretty wide-ranging!


The reason most people may worry about vegans/vegetarians not getting enough protein is because not all plant-based protein is considered to be a complete protein. If one or two amino acids are missing from a protein source, it is considered to be an incomplete protein. In order to gain status as a complete protein, a food must contain all 9 essential amino acids that the body cannot generate.  Amino acids are essentially the “building blocks” of protein in that they join together to create a protein source your body can then use. There are 20 different amino acids in total, 11 of which the human body can make on its own. Therefore, it is “essential” the other 9  come from our diet.


Many vegan proteins contain some of the amino acids, but not all. These are considered incomplete proteins. Protein sources that contain all 9 essential amino acids are considered high quality or complete proteins. These essential amino acids are most commonly found in meat and animal products.  However, those following a plant-based diet need not worry about consuming complete protein at every meal. Your body is smart! It can combine amino acids (whether complete or incomplete) to get the proper protein it needs as long as the different types of proteins are eaten in the same day. In the past, it was believed that complementary proteins (two incomplete proteins that, when combined, provide all 9 essential amino acids) had to be eaten at the same time.


Reminder: As always, I encourage you to consult your own nutritionist or doctor to find out your exact protein needs if protein intake is a concern of yours. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, so I’ll always urge you to do your own research and choose what is best for you. Plus, research provides a great opportunity to learn something new   :)


Below you’ll find my list of some popular vegan protein sources and average grams of protein in each serving. If you’re bored with your typical protein routine, perhaps this list will help you to get creative with your next meal! And PLEASE don’t be discouraged by some of these items. They may sound strange…but everything on this list easily accessible and can be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Food’s and/or in the natural sections of most large grocery store chains. I’ll also be posting a protein-packed, budget-friendly recipe in my next post to get you started.


Vegan Protein Sources:

(**= Has all 9 essential amino acids)

  • Tempeh: 1/2 cup = 20 grams
  • Seitan: 4 oz. = 26 grams (Weird name right? If you haven’t heard of this one…read about it here)
  • Tofu: 4 oz. = 8 grams
  • Hummus: 2 tablespoon = 2 grams (depending on brand)
  • Quinoa: 1/2 cup cooked= 10 grams ** 
  • Soy Milk: 1 cup = 7 grams **
  •  Lentils: (legumes): 1/2 cup= 9 grams
  • Edamame: 1/2 cup = 8 grams **
  • Beans: (red,white, black, garbanzo, kidney etc…): 1/2 cup = 7-8 grams
  • Soybeans: 1/2 cup = 10 grams **
  • Spinach: 1 cup (cooked) = 5 grams
  • Peas: 1 cup= 9 grams
  • Broccoli: 1 cup (cooked) = 5 grams
  • Sprouted Grain Bread: 2 slices = 8 grams (Ezekiel 4:9 bread is an example of sprouted bread)
  • Brown Rice: 1 cup = 5 grams
  • Buckwheat noodles: 1/2 cup= 14-16 grams **
  • Nutritional Yeast: 2 tablespoons = 8 grams ** (This also has all 9 essential amino acids! I’ll be writing more about this great product in a future post! But you can read about it first, here).
  • Hemp Protein Powder: 2 rounded tablespoons = 6 grams (Hemp Protein)
  • Pea Protein Powder: 2 rounded tablespoons = 28 grams (Pea Protein)
  • Brown Rice Protein Powder:  2 rounded tablespoons: 15 grams (Brown Rice Protein)
  • Soy Protein Powder: 2 rounded tablespoons = 23 grams (Soy Protein)
  • Peanut butter: 2 tablespoons = 8 grams
  • Almond Butter: 2 tablespoons= 8 grams
  • Peanuts: 1 ounce = 6.5 grams
  • Pistachios: 1 ounce = 5.8 grams
  • Almonds: 1 ounce= 6 grams
  • Soy nuts: 1/4 cup = 12 grams (and ONLY 6 grams of fat!)
  • Chia Seeds: 2 tablespoons= 5 grams (GREAT addition to any diet. Read about their many benefits here)
  • Flax seeds: 2 tablespoons= 4 grams
  • Sesame seeds: 1 ounce= 6.5
  • Pumpkin seeds: 1 ounce = 5 grams


Now I don’t know about you…but I think this list set you up for pretty decent argument the next time someone says you CAN’T get enough protein following a plant-based diet!


Healthfully yours,

Ashley Michelle



Livestrong: Hemp vs. Pea Protein

Livestrong: Plant Protein

Livestrong: Is Edamame Good for you?

Livestrong: How much protein do women need?

Soy: A Complete Protein

FitSugar:Protein Chart

Tofu as an alternative to meat

Vegetarian Proteins

Vegetarian Protein

Saavy Vegetarian