Plus, more than a dozen recipes to help you eat more of them!

Lauren Wicks

Whenever most of us think of protein, we think of a juicy steak or plate of eggs and bacon. But research from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health tells us we should be prioritizing plant proteins more often, as whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds have a wide variety of other key nutrients we are often missing.

As it turns out, there are a handful of vegetables that act as sneaky protein and fiber-a nutrient 95% of Americans are missing the mark on-plus other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Most of these are also known for having powerful anti-inflammatory properties, too. Check out the seven surprising veggies that can give a plant-protein boost to your meals.

Peas

Peas have started to become a popular protein source over the last few years, as many wellness products use pea protein to make vegan foods and powders. One cup of peas adds a pretty impressive 8g protein boost to any meal. Peas are also full of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, Manganese and about a dozen other essential nutrients!

You may have grown up loathing those mushy peas your mom made you eat, but we have plenty of recipes that take peas to a whole new level. Our Easy Pea & Spinach Carbonara is a delicious way to introduce peas to your family, and our Smoked Salmon Pasta Salad is loaded with peas for a nice plant-protein boost.

Related: Healthy Pea Recipes

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a vegan and vegetarian staple for adding rich, meaty flavor and texture to savory dishes. The amount of protein varies depending on the type of mushroom you're cooking with, but one cup of cooked portobello mushrooms packs 5g protein. Mushrooms are also a great source of B vitamins and potassium. Plus, they also serve as the only vegan food source of vitamin D.

Our Mushroom-Quinoa Veggie Burgers with Special Sauce will make you rethink meatless burgers, and our Pesto-Stuffed Mushrooms make for a delicious meat-free appetizer to serve at your next gathering.

Related: Healthy Mushroom Recipes

Spinach

If there's any food deserving of being deemed a "superfood," it's spinach. Besides being at least a good source of almost every essential vitamin and mineral, one cup of cooked spinach packs just over 5g protein. Popeye really did know best!

Those wary of eating their leafy greens should try our Pineapple Green Smoothie, which packs in a whole cup of spinach yet tastes deliciously sweet! Our One-Pot Garlicky Shrimp & Spinach is the perfect weeknight meal with a quick cook time and easy cleanup. Score!

Related: Healthy Spinach Recipes

Broccoli

Broccoli is one of those vegetables that is often a serious victim of being overcooked. However, when done right, broccoli is a delicious addition to stir-fries, pastas and curries! One cup of cooked broccoli adds 6.7g protein to your favorite dishes. Not only that, but broccoli is an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, potassium and vitamin A.

Our Smoked Gouda-Broccoli Soup is probably the most delicious way to eat your broccoli, and our Roasted Broccoli with Lemon-Garlic Vinaigrette is the perfect easy side dish for ramping up your veggie intake at dinnertime.

Related: Our Best-Ever Broccoli Recipes

Asparagus

For some reason, asparagus seems to be one veggie even the pickiest of eaters won't mind putting on their plates. And that's a good thing-one cup of cooked asparagus adds about 5g protein and fiber each to your daily intake! Not only that, but asparagus is a great source of vitamins A, C, K and folate.

Our Asparagus with Curry Butter is an easy way to spice up a simple side dish, and this green veggie is perfect in our Potato, Asparagus & Mushroom Hash. Yes, you can have asparagus for breakfast!

Related: Healthy Vegetarian Asparagus Recipes

Brussels Sprouts

Gone are the days where Brussels sprouts are avoided at all costs-this veggie appears on all kinds of menus these days! One cup of cooked Brussels sprouts adds 4g protein to any dish, along with a host of other healthy nutrients. Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, vitamin K, vitamin C and folate.

If you're looking to please a crowd, look no further than our Parmesan-Crusted Brussels Sprouts to dip in your favorite marinara sauce. Our Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts also makes for an easy one-pan dish to help you get a healthy dinner on the table without the hassle.

Related: How to Cook Brussels Sprouts So They're Actually Delicious

Edamame

So *technically* edamame is more of a legume than a vegetable, but it often gets treated more like a veggie when cooking. This one is worth mentioning, as just one cup of cooked edamame has a whopping 17g protein! It also offers about one-third of your daily fiber needs.

Our Greek Salad With Edamame is the perfect way to make greens a satiating meal, and our Edamame Lo Mein is your healthy answer to those takeout cravings. We love adding a handful to our meals for a boost of plant-based protein and fiber.

Related: Healthy Edamame Recipes

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