Food

5 Vegan Appetizer Recipes Packed with Protein

Delicious appetizers help set the tone for your meal while letting your creativity shine.

Appetizers have been affectionately described as the foreplay of meals. They tempt your taste buds, engage your guests, and get you in the mood for what’s to come. The current trend in vegan apps is protein, as many are looking to balance meals and complement the nutrient rations in their main courses. Because of this, we’re presenting five of our favorite appetizer recipes that are hearty enough for a bodybuilder, and tasty enough to impress your omnivorous friends.
 
1. SPINACH, LENTIL, AND CARROT SOUP
Soup isn’t just a winter comfort food—it’s also an awesome way to pack some protein into the start of your meal.
 
What You Need:
 
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups vegetable broth
3 cups water
2 cups dry lentils, rinsed
1 cup fresh tomatoes, diced
1 cup chopped spinach
 
What You Do:
 
1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion and carrots. Add garlic, cumin, paprika, and salt and continue sautéing.
 
2. To the pot, add broth, water, lentils, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add spinach before serving.
 
2. MOCK TUNA SALAD
Many of us think of tuna salad only for sandwiches, but this protein-packed recipe makes an excellent dip for celery, carrots, and other raw vegetables.
 
What You Need:
 
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed
4 stalks celery, diced
3 pickles, diced
Handful of sunflower seeds
½ cup chia seeds
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
3 tablespoons non-dairy mayonnaise
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
 
What You Do:
 
1. In a large bowl, mash garbanzo beans into a pulp. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Let mixture refrigerate for three hours.
 
2. Serve with raw vegetables as a dip or with tortillas as a wrap.
 
3. ROASTED RED PEPPER HUMMUS
This homemade hummus recipe combines the powerful protein from garbanzo beans with flavorful spices that’ll awaken your senses.
 
What You Need:
 
2 medium red peppers
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
 
What You Do:
 
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a baking pan with olive oil.
 
2. Slice peppers in half and remove seeds. Place peppers in the pan with the uncut side facing up. Drizzle more olive oil on top of peppers. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly charred. Remove from oven, cool, and remove skin.
 
3. In a food processor, process peppers with all remaining ingredients until desired consistency is reached.
 
4. GARBANZO SALAD WITH CILANTRO AND LIME
Garbanzo beans are a good source of fiber (and so versatile), so here’s another protein-packed recipe that uses them in a creative and flavorful way.
 
What You Need:
 
4 cups spinach
2 (15-ounce) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup chopped onion
Juice from 3 limes
1½ cups fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves fresh garlic
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
 
What You Do:
 
1. For the salad, into a food processor, finely chop spinach. Into a bowl, add spinach, garbanzo beans, and onions.
 
2. For the salad dressing, into food processor, add lime juice, cilantro, sugar, mustard, garlic, olive oil, and cumin. Process until smooth. Pour dressing over salad and toss well. Add salt and pepper, and gently toss again.
 
5. BAKED POLENTA FRIES
These polenta fries are baked, not fried, but they’re crispy on the outside and much healthier than the alternatives. Better yet, they’re also quick to make if you’re pressed for time.
 
What You Need:
 
1 (24-ounce) tube prepared polenta
Salt, pepper, or other spices (to taste)
 
What You Do:
 
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with olive oil spray.
 
2. Cut the tube of polenta in half and into 1-inch-thick slices. Place fries on baking sheet and spray with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, or other spices.
 
3. Bake fries for 30 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Allow fries to cool, and serve with your favorite dip or sauce.
 
Chris Willitts is the founder of VegetarianBodybuilding.com and a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness, Vegan Health and Fitness Magazine, and Natural Muscle Magazine.

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