Fitness buffs love their protein, but chicken breasts aren’t everyone’s go-to source for this muscle-building macronutrient. There’s a new movement emerging on the scene made up of vegan and vegetarian athletes, and these lean, healthy specimens are proving that plant-based proteins are more than enough to build a strong physique.
We didn’t want to ignore our herbivorous sisters out there, so we borrowed some meatless recipes from renowned nutrition experts and purveyors of plant-based eating that won our seal of approval. Whether you prefer meatier meals or go for leafy greens and grains, these five vegetarian recipes are guaranteed to win you over too.

Black Rice and Edamame Salad
with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

We snagged this gorgeous salad recipe from The Wellness Kitchen Cookbook (available at amazon.com). Its creator happens to be registered dietitian Paulette Lambert, nutritional expert
on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition. Loaded with plant-based protein, fiber and
antioxidants and bursting with bright flavors, it’s a meat-free winner in our books.
Black Rice and Edamame Salad
With Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 10 minutes  |  Total Time: 50 minutes
Makes 8 servings
1 cup black rice, rinsed
2 cups water
½ cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup green beans, thinly sliced
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For Vinaigrette:
¼ cup Meyer lemon juice or 3 Tbsp store-bought lemon juice
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp agave nectar or honey
2 Tbsp olive oil
1. In a medium saucepan, add rice and water; bring to a boil, then cover and reduce to simmer. Cook rice until just tender, about 35–40 minutes. Drain well by spreading out on a rimmed baking sheet, and let cool.
2.Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, water, and sweetener in a small bowl. Whisking constantly, gradually drizzle in the oil to emulsify.
3. In a large bowl, toss rice, walnuts, green onions, edamame, tomatoes, and green beans with the vinaigrette.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie

This smoothie recipe is a personal favorite of Brendan Brazier (brendanbrazier.com), author of the THRIVE book series and formulator of the Vega sports nutrition line. Did we mention he’s also one of the world’s most notable authorities on plant-based nutrition and a former professional Ironman athlete?
Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie
Total Time: 3 min
Makes 1 serving
1 Medjool date, pitted
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1 Tbsp almond butter
1 Tbsp cacao nibs
1 Tbsp vegan dark chocolate chips
1 scoop Vega One Nutritional Shake, French vanilla flavor
6 Tbsp unsweetened almond milk
6 Tbsp coconut water
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract or powder
About 2 cups ice cubes
1. In a high-speed blender, combine all ingredients except the ice. Add ice to about 1 inch above the liquid line. Blend on high speed until smooth.

Sun-Dried Tomato Spelt Crust Pizza

Holistic Nutritionist Joy McCarthy (joyoushealth.com) makes no excuses when it comes to her love of pizza, but she also doesn’t compromise when it comes to healthy eating. Luckily, her recipe for a spelt flour crust topped with homemade pesto from her cookbook Joyous Health: Eat & Live Well Without Dieting, combines the best of both worlds.
Sun-Dried Tomato Spelt Crust Pizza
Prep Time:
10 min Total Time: 30 min

Makes 2-3 servings
Pizza Crust
1 ½ cups organic stone-ground spelt flour (we used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 egg
¼ cup water or almond milk
4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Toppings
½ cup Arugula or Kale Walnut Pesto (see below for recipe)
8 sun-dried tomatoes
½ cup soft goat cheese
½ cup fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Optional: 1 tsp hot chili flakes
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a pizza stone (if you have one) or lightly oil a pizza pan or baking sheet.
2. For the pizza crust, in a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, beat egg with a fork; stir in water and 2 Tbsp of olive oil.
3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until they form a ball of dough. You may need to sprinkle the mixture with more flour to prevent it from sticking to the bowl.
4. Lightly flour your work surface. Shape the dough into a ball. Knead it for 3-4 minutes or so until smooth (or 2-3 minutes in a stand mixer).
5. Using a floured rolling pin, roll dough into a circle slightly larger than your pizza stone or baking sheet. Scoop the rolled dough onto the pan.
6. Using your hands, flatten it and press it to the edges. Brush dough with the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. This will prevent the toppings from baking into the crust.
7. Top the pizza with as much pesto as you like. Top with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, and basil.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges are golden. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with chili flakes if you like a little spice.

Arugula or Kale Walnut Pesto 

Arugula or Kale Walnut Pesto
Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes ¾ cup
1/2 cup Arugula or Kale Walnut Pesto
½ to 1 clove garlic
½ cup walnuts, almonds or cashews
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
2. Scrape the sides and add more olive oil if desired.
3. Store in the fridge for 5-7 days.
Tip: Use on sandwiches, on pasta or in replace of tomato sauce on pizza.

Vegetarian Rosemary Chickpea Soup

Vegetarian Rosemary Chickpea Soup
Prep Time: 5 min  |  Total Time: 35 min
Makes 4-6 servings
This recipe by registered dietitian Janice de Boer of Love Your Food, Reduce Your Risk (janicedeboer.com) puts a flavorful twist on pureed soup. An advocate for incorporating plant-based recipes into your everyday menu, Janice is on a mission to help reduce your risk of disease and fight cancer through a nutrient dense diet.
1 Tbsp cooking oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 tsp dried rosemary leaves
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 (18 oz) cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp fresh or store-bought lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1. Heat oil in a large pot over low heat. Add garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes, stirring constantly until garlic starts to lightly brown, about 1 minute.
2. Add chickpeas and cook, stirring often, for another 2 minutes.
3. Add broth and increase heat to medium-high, bringing mixture to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
4. Transfer 1-2 cups of soup at a time to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Return to the pot and stir in lemon juice.
5. Ladle soup into bowls. Drizzle each with ½ tsp olive oil and sprinkle with fresh ground pepper.
Still hungry? Find five easy recipes that use everyday ingredients in the May/June issue of STRONG Fitness Magazine. Click here to find a retailer near you.
Photography by Dave Laus