July 6, 2017

5 Ways to Add More Plant-Based Proteins to Your Diet

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Who says all of your protein needs to come from meat? Add any of these easy plant-based protein recipes from our friends at California Walnuts to your family’s weekly meal plan to shake things up!

#1: Start With a Plant-Powered Breakfast

Oats, walnuts, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), and plant-based protein powder provide a boost of protein and lasting energy to get you through the morning. Make a batch of these in advance for a quick breakfast throughout the week.

Blueberry Protein Walnut Breakfast Bars



  • 1 cup California walnuts
  • 2 cups Gluten Free oats
  • 1/4 cup plant-based vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 1/4 cup Gluten Free oats
  • 1/4 cup California walnuts chopped finely
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Prepare a 9×9 square baking dish with two pieces of parchment paper. Place parchment paper in opposite directions for easy removal.
  3. Add all the ingredients for the base to a food processor and process on high until fully broken down and the mixture is doughy.
  4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer with a spatula.
  5. Bake 8 minutes.
  6. Add all the ingredients for the crumble mixture into an even layer pressing the mixture gently into the crust.
  7. Remove the baking dish from the oven, top with the crumble mixture into an even layer pressing the mixture gently into the crust.
  8. Bake another 12 minutes in the oven.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan 30 minutes prior to lifting the bars out of the pan with the parchment paper. Slice into 12 bars.
  10. Store bars in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

#2: Opt for a Veggie-Based Taco Filling

Use a blend of roasted walnuts and cauliflower as a taco filling instead of traditional options. Walnuts provide four grams of plant-based protein per ¼ cup, plus the seasoned cauliflower and walnut mixture acts as a convincing meat substitute, appealing to both vegetarians and meat-lovers.

Roasted Walnut and Cauliflower Tacos



  • 1 head cauliflower, small, chopped
  • 1 cup California walnut pieces, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup onion, minced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, medium, seeded, minced
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste


  • 12 tortillas, corn, small, warmed
  • 1 ½ cups green cabbage, shredded
  • ¾ cup Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup California walnuts, chopped, toasted
  • Cilantro leaves, fresh
  • Lime wedges


  1. Preheat oven to 475ºF. Coat cauliflower with 1 tbsp. olive oil; place on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
  2. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF and toast walnuts for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add to pan with cauliflower.
  3. Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic and jalapeno cook for 2 minutes more. Stir in water, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt; cook until mixture is thick and excess water has cooked off. Stir in cauliflower mixture.
  4. Spoon mixture into warmed tortillas and top with cabbage, cheese, walnuts and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

Optional: Cauliflower mixture may be ground in a food processor so that it resembles the texture of ground meat.

#3 Pack Salads with Nuts, Grains & Lentils

Not only do these ingredients offer plant-based protein, they also provide a variety of textures and flavors. Mix up a batch of your favorite ingredients and enjoy for lunch, or try this Bulgur Salad with Green Lentils and Walnuts to start.


Bulgur Salad with Green Lentils and Walnuts



  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups bulgur, medium cut
  • 3/4 cup yellow onions, minced
  • 2 cups water, hot
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted, ground
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 cup green onions, minced
  • 1 cup California walnut pieces, toasted
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced

*Optional Garnish: 2 ounces French feta cheese, crumbled


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low; add the bulgur and onion.
  2. Cook, stirring, until the bulgur grains are coated with oil, toasted, fragrant and uniformly brown, about 20 minutes. Add the hot water and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low; cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook until just tender, about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat; allow to sit 20 minutes. Allow to come to room temperature. Place the bulgur in a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Meanwhile, put the lentils in a small saucepot and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook the lentils until tender.
  5. Remove from the heat; drain; place in a shallow pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cool to room temperature.
  6. In a small bowl place all of the vinaigrette ingredients. Whisk to combine. When the lentils have cooled a bit, add to the bulgur, along with the vinaigrette, green onions, walnuts and parsley. Mix well.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve at room temperature. Garnish with the feta cheese if you wish!

#4: Mix up Traditional Spaghetti with Veggie Meatballs

Walnuts and cannellini beans pack nine grams of plant-based protein per serving in this recipe for Walnutty Veggie Meatballs.

Walnutty Veggie Meatballs


  • Cannellini beans (15 ounce can), rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup red peppers, roasted and chopped
  • 1/2 cup California Walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, minced
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons smoked sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil cooking spray


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with foil. Put beans and red peppers between paper towels and pat dry.
  2. Place in a food processor with all remaining ingredients except cooking spray.
  3. Pulse on and off until all ingredients are finely chopped. Do not over mix or meatballs will be mushy.
  4. Shape into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Coat liberally with olive oil spray and cook for 10 minutes. Spray again and cook for 10 minutes more.
  5. Serve with marinara over whole grain pasta or in whole grain rolls as a meatball sub.

TIP: Mixture will be easier to shape if refrigerated for several hours

#5: Sub Walnuts & Either Beans, Mushrooms, or Cauliflower for Meat in Recipes

This increases the plant-based protein of the dish while also adding a satisfying texture and taste.

Beef Sliders Stuffed with Walnuts and Gorgonzola


  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 cups button mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, ground
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 lb ground beef, 10% fat
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola (or blue cheese), divided into 16 portions
  • 32 California walnut halves
  • 16 dinner rolls, small (or 2, 24-inch baguettes, each sliced into 8 equal portions, then sliced horizontally)


  1. Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and sauté bacon until just cooked but not crisp.
  2. Add shallots and cook until translucent. Add mushrooms and continue cooking until water evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and let cool. Add salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and egg to mixture. Add beef and gently mix by hand until all ingredients are incorporated, without over mixing.
  4. Divide mixture into 16 equal portions. Form into thick patties, about 1 1/2 inches thick and 2 1/2 inches in diameter, tucking a piece of cheese and 2 walnut halves into the center of each patty.
  5. Grill patties on medium-high heat until cooked to preferred doneness. Serve in small dinner rolls or between baguette slices with desired condiments.