These Lentil Mushroom Vegetarian Meatballs are packed with protein, nutrition and delicious flavour!
The most common question I receive following a predominantly plant-based diet is: “where do you get your protein from?”
I get it. It’s a valid question and we should be concerned that we are getting enough. The symptoms of protein deficiency are not pretty and they include everything from nausea and dizziness, anemic conditions, fatigue, lowered immunity, premature aging, low hormone levels, hair loss, and more. But it should be noted that too much protein is not a good thing either! Protein excess symptoms include increased risk of kidney problems, liver problems, elevated blood cholesterol, bone calcium loss leading to osteoporosis and increased bacterial growth in the intestines.
Whether or not you follow a plant-based diet, you should always strive to eat some protein with every meal, along with healthy fats and fibre. Plant-based sources of protein as well as some examples of how many grams of protein are in a 1 cup serving are as follows:
- Beans and legumes: tempeh (41g), firm tofu (30g), lentils (18g), black beans (15g), chickpeas (12g), peas (9g)
- Grains: quinoa (9g), millet (6g), brown rice (4g)
- Nuts and seeds (based on 2 tbsp): cashews (10g), almonds (3.6g), sesame seeds (3.2g), walnuts (2.3g), sunflower seeds (6g), hemp seeds (10g), chia seeds (8g)
- Vegetables: spinach (5g), brococli (4g)
It’s important to also mention that proteins can be classified as complete proteins or incomplete proteins. Complete protein foods have all nine essential amino acids at roughly equal amounts and include soy products, including tempeh and tofu, and animal proteins. Incomplete proteins are missing or low in one or more essential amino acids and largely include plant foods. The solution to eating a balanced plant-based diet is to know how to properly combine plant foods so that the amino acids in these foods will form complete proteins for the body’s amino acid pool. Combinations that form complete proteins include, for example:
- Quinoa or buckwheat + legumes, leafy greens, protein-rich veggies, or nuts and seeds
- Brown rice + legumes, leafy greens, protein-rich veggies, or nuts and seeds
- Beans + grains (brown rice, quinoa), nuts and seeds, or protein-rich veggies
To make the Lentil Mushroom Meatballs recipe a complete meal, I suggest pairing it with dark leafy greens and any other veggies of choice. Enjoy!
Lentil Mushroom Vegetarian Meatballs
Protein-rich plant-based meatballs.
Makes 14 - 16 meatballs.
- 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
- 3 cups cooked green lentils
- 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup gluten-free all-purpose baking flour
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat a small pan with grapeseed oil over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, cook the onions until translucent, stirring regularly, approximately 4 - 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a food processor, pulse lentils and mushrooms until chunky and smooth, approximately 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a large bowl.
- Add onions, garlic, herbs, nutritional yeast, tamari, salt, pepper and nutmeg into the bowl with the lentil-mushroom mixture. Mix well until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time and mix well.
- Shape the mixture into golf-ball sized balls, about 1/4 cup each. If the mixture is too wet, add additional flour.
- Place the meatballs on to a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Carefully flip each ball and continue to bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes, or until cooked throughout.
- These can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.