LENT-ils: Protein alternatives for meatless Fridays

It’s Friday! And you know what that means for some of us during Lent? No meat. Which leaves you with meal options like pizza or pasta to eat… again. Don’t get us wrong—we love a good pizza or even pasta after a long week. But as tasty as these meals can be, on their own they tend to lack one important nutrient: protein. Fish can be expensive, so what else has protein? Look no further than beans, lentils, and other legumes. These plant-based protein sources are a great staple to turn to for the much-needed nutrient. 

LENTILS

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Although mini, lentils pack a mighty nutritional punch, with a higher amount of protein than all other legumes. Green and brown lentils are easy to cook and keep their shape without becoming too mushy. Make a big batch of these babies to add to salads, sandwich wraps, or chilis. Yellow, red, and orange lentils tend to be softer after cooking and are usually better used in soups and sauces. 

Protein Nutrition: 18 grams/cup

Make It Friday

Start your weekend by taking your taste buds on an exotic escape with this recipe for Coconut Red-Lentil Curry. Made with cauliflower, creamy coconut milk, red lentils, and more, this bold and flavorful dish will become a regular go-to.  

KIDNEY BEANS

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These marvelous beans get their name because they’re shaped like the organ. Not only are kidney beans a good source of protein, they’re also full of fiber. Canned kidney beans are super convenient since they’re precooked and ready to add to most dishes like stews, casseroles, rice dishes, and more.

Protein Nutrition: 16 grams/cup

Make It Friday

We can’t think of a better way to get your Friday rolling than with a spicy Cajun dish originating from New Orleans. This Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice recipe made with red kidney beans comes together in a cinch with a can of diced tomatoes, chopped frozen veggies, instant brown rice, and some seasonings.

PINTO BEANS

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Not just for cowboys on the range, hearty and affordable pinto beans can give you just as much protein as a dish with meat—without the saturated fat. Pintos can be eaten whole, mashed, or refried, and are a popular addition to Mexican cuisine including tacos, burritos, and enchiladas.

Protein Nutrition: 16 grams/cup

Make It Friday

Oh my-my, who loves tamale pie? Our Vegetarian Tamale Pie is a twist on the traditional recipe, which usually includes ground beef. It’s filled with pinto beans and veggies, then topped with cornbread and baked in a cast iron skillet.

BLACK BEANS

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You can’t go wrong with this pantry staple. In fact, the USDA counts black beans as part of both the vegetable and protein food groups. Canned black beans can be drained and tossed with chopped tomatoes and lime juice, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and a few chili flakes, for a quick dish in a pinch. 

Protein Nutrition: 15 grams/cup

Make It Friday

Now here’s a dynamic protein duo: black beans and quinoa. You’ll find them both in this Southwest Quinoa Skillet, which brings zesty flavor to the Friday night dinner table.

CHICKPEAS

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Chickpeas? Or garbanzo beans? No matter what you call them, these soft and tender wonders are more than just your typical ingredient for hummus. Chickpeas are substantially filling, and so versatile when it comes to their many uses. Not only are they an easy addition to soups and salads—they also can be seasoned and roasted into a crunchy snack or even incorporated into a sweet dessert. (Yes, you heard that right.)

Protein Nutrition: 15 grams/cup

Make It Friday

We love this Chickpea and Tomato Salad as a meat-free Friday lunch or dinner side dish. Just combine chickpeas, diced tomatoes, sweet onion, and fresh basil with a tasty Italian dressing—and it’s ready to enjoy in under 10 minutes.

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