Packing Protein into an Easy Vegan Stir-fry
Ah, the stir-fry. Every new vegan-that-can’t-cook’s go-to for an easy, well-rounded meal. I joke, of course. But even for those whose kitchen skills need some sharpening, a stir-fry remains one of the easiest options for a healthy meal.
One drawback from a vegan stir-fry, is we quite frequently miss the mark on our protein. Now, if you’re not tracking macros and you don’t have a specific protein goal, that’s all good. A basic stir-fry with rice and vegetables will almost definitely give you enough protein – usually around 12-20 grams.
But, if you’re working on muscle development and want to hit a higher protein goal, you might need to get a little more creative. Lately, I try to get 35-40 grams of protein in one serving of my stir fry while also keeping calories lower. I’ll give you an overview of my typical stir-fry and later in the post, I’ll share some tips for customizing this meal to better suite your macros and give you some options to change things up.
For an easy, high protein stir-fry, here’s whatcha need:
½ package of Litelife original tempeh, cut into small cubes
¼ cup edamame beans, microwaved
1.5 cups of broccoli
1/3 large onion
½ large red bell pepper
1 medium carrot, sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 tbsp of stir-fry sauce
8 mushrooms, sliced
It’s hard to mess up the process of cooking a stir-fry, but here’s the step I follow:
On medium heat, heat a pan and add some cooking spray. Alternatively, add some water or veggie broth instead.
Add carrots, onion, and celery and cover. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Add peppers and broccoli and cover again. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add mushrooms and increase heat to medium-high adding a little salt.
In a separate pan, cook the tempeh at medium-high heat with some cooking spray until golden brown.
Once the veggies are tender, add the stir-fry sauce, tempeh, and edamame and mix well.
This recipe will get you around 35 grams of protein in roughly 400 calories. To up this a little you could add ¾ cup of brown rice for some extra carbs and fibre or top it with 1tbsp of peanuts for some healthy fats.
So, this is the stir-fry I’ve been making for the last few months. I really like it because it’s a low-calorie option that still has lots of protein! However, I recognize that leaving out rice or noodles doesn’t work for everyone. When I do add a base to this stir-fry I usually go for ¾ cup of brown rice or 1 serving of thin rice noodles.
I’ve also stopped using nuts in my stir-fry. Nuts are simply too calorie dense for the volume they provide and since I already get some healthy fat in my tempeh, they don’t really fit within my macro goals for this meal. However, you want to add some nuts, chopped peanuts work best in this recipe.
Alright, let’s talk about the elephant on the plate: tempeh. Whenever I describe tempeh to a friend or family member, I instantly lose them. Tempeh is fermented soybeans held together by an edible mold. It smells kind of sour and has a weird creamy texture with nutty flavour. Yes, I recognize that it’s kind of weird. However, once it’s cooked into something, you don’t really notice it, and it’s very high in protein! But, if tempeh is not your jam, you can easily swap it out with its friendlier cousin, extra-firm tofu. Simply dry it, cube it, bake it at 400 for 20 minutes, and add to the stir-fry.
You can also mix and match any vegetable combo to make this stir-fry your own. I’m a big fan of broccoli in stir-fry because it offers more protein than most veggies. However, this recipe also works great with green beans or more bell peppers. This would also work just fine if you used pre-mixed frozen vegetables, like a Thai veggie mix.
There you have it, a fool-proof stir-fry that you can always fall back on.