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I can’t even count the number of times people ask us “where do you get your protein?” being that we are vegetarian and dairy-free. The answer? All kinds of things! Beans, peas, greens, grains, potatoes, seeds, nuts, lentils, oats, the list goes on. So what does a vegetarian do on a homestead? Grow protein of course!
Last year we gardened for the first time. I grew a row of organic soy and harvested a fairly small amount of dry beans. It may seem like a small step, but I am actually going to be turning it into homemade, all-natural soy milk! To add to coffee, pour over granola, and all kinds of things. Even though it may be a small amount to start out with, it’s a start, and that’s exciting to me nonetheless.
At this time last year, I didn’t even knew what the term “homesteading” meant, nor did I have any interest in being a “homesteader.” However, over the past year we have embraced many aspects of the homesteading lifestyle, like the focus on self-sufficiency, sustainability, and connection. Being that we are a plant based homestead, I was inspired and encouraged to think of all the things we could grow, that match our current appetite. Some of our favorite things to eat are beans, rice, quinoa, tempeh, tofu, potatoes, and peanut butter.
The more I thought about the food we consumed, the more I realized that we could grow almost all of it ourselves! Now there are a few things that we really can’t grow here that we eat often. Foods like avocado, coconut, and cashews, but instead of focusing on the plant based foods that we can’t grow, I am choosing to focus on all the things we CAN grow! And I encourage you to do the same. So when it comes to plant based protein, HOW can you grow plant based protein in the garden, and WHAT can to use it for?
This year we are focusing on growing all kinds of protein in the garden. Not because we have a shortage in protein, but because we want to have a lot of diversity in our diet, and show people just how much you can produce in your own backyard.
Whole plant foods that are protein packed!
There are SO many options for growing protein in the garden! My number one recommendation? A lot of diversity! Because even though these plants all have protein, they also have a lot of other diverse nutrients and health benefits. So plant a lot of different things so that you can take advantage of all those different nutrients. You also want to make sure you get a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. If you diversify from the list below, you will be getting a great balance! Greens, grains, legumes, and nuts make a perfectly balanced meal.
- Beans (Green beans or Dry beans)*
- Grains (ex. Rice, Quinoa)
- Seeds (ex. Chia, Pumpkin, Sesame)
- Tree Nuts (ex. Hazelnuts, Almonds)
- Greens (ex. Spinach, Kale)
- Broccoli & Cauliflower
- Fruit (ex. Goji berries, Figs, Avocado)
All of the bolded items we ARE growing this year in our garden, at least we will be trying to! Mushrooms will be a project for next year, although I may try foraging (with the help of highly educated friends) for some mushrooms in our woods.
*Beans can be confusing! If you are looking to grow dry beans, you will want to make sure you buy beans that are tasty when used for the bean itself, and not just the pod. Many beans are grown as green beans, and are consumed before the bean dries out. For dry beans, we are growing Black Turtle bush bean in addition to Toyha heirloom soy bean. We are also growing all kinds of green beans and pole beans.
Protein-packed ways to prepare plant-based protein from the garden
- Soy Milk
Have you ever tried making any of these things at home? It’s actually not as hard as you might imagine and TOTALLY do-able! One of my favorite cook books is called The Vegan Pantry and has recipes for all of the above items that seem pretty straightforward, and I’m really excited about trying them out this year.
- Humus (garbanzo beans)
- Veggie burgers (all kinds of beans, black beans work great!)
- Garbanzo Bean Flour
Want to make humus completely homemade? Grow garbanzo beans, and grow sesame. You can make tahini from the sesame seeds, throw in the garbanzo beans, and you have humus! You can also make humus without tahini at all, but it may take some creative modifications.
- Nut butter
- Nut milk
- Nut flour
Nuts are packed with protein and almost every climate allows you to grow at least some kind of nuts! We planted three Hazelnut trees in our baby Food Forest and plan to add pecans and hardy almonds in the future. We’re also growing peanuts, which although they technically are not a nut, they can be used to make peanut butter!
- Rice milk
- Breakfast porage (quiona, oats, or other grains)
- Quinoa burgers
Mmmm.. oh how I love grains! I love them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We made oatmeal all the time, hot & cold. One thing I want to learn in the next year is to make homemade bread! I’m particularly interested in making homemade sourdough because of the positive probiotic benefits of the fermentation process.
That’s all for now friends! I can’t wait to share more as we grow plant based protein in our garden this year.
What’s your favorite plant based protein?! Tell me all about it in the comments below.
All my best,