Easy Weeknight Dinners // Un-Recipe No. 21:
Protein-Packed Stuffed Sweet Potato
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This hearty meal packs a punch of 25 grams of protein per serving. Crumbled tempeh and homemade black bean marinara satisfy vegans and meat-eaters alike. Pin this post.
Baked Sweet Potatoes
Batch Of Cheaper Than Store-bought Marinara
2. Deglaze The Tempeh: Start with an 8 oz. package of unflavored tempeh (I buy mine from Trader Joes), remove from the package and gently crumble it with your hands into a bowl. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan on the stove. When hot, add 3 roughly chopped garlic cloves and 1/2 chopped white onion. Add more oil to the pan to prevent from sticking as necessary.
When translucent, add crumbled tempeh. Sauté for 12-15 minutes on med-low heat until cooked through and golden. Add a splash of liquid smoke before removing from heat.
Pro-tip: Did you know you don’t need oil to brown foods on the stove? You can use water or broth in its place. You’ll miss out on a little of the fried crispy bits, but it’s a nice alternative. If you want to use this method, add a couple Tbs of water to the emptied crushed tomato can, give it a swirl, and add to the pan to prevent from sticking.
3. Toss In Some Spinach: Do you want more greens in your life but scoff at salad? Behold sneaky greens! I add greens to almost everything. Greens like spinach, kale or spring mix add a boost of fiber and vitamins and also act as a food extender. More ruffage forces everyone to slow down their eating and feel more satisfied. Adding spinach to the cooking pan as the final step quickly wilts the leaves without overcooking them. And a couple handfuls of spinach will easily get lost in the browned tempeh mix. It’s a sneaky way to incorporate greens that people will hardly notice.
4. Toast Some Walnuts: Ideally, you’ll want to toast walnuts in a 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes. If you’re a mortal human being with only one oven and following this recipe, you’re likely baking a sweet potato in a 425 degree oven right now. So in this case, I recommend cheating … put your walnuts on a cookie sheet and stick ‘em in the 425 degree oven but watch them CLOSELY. You might only need three or four minutes. Get them out before they burn. You could also skip this step entirely, but I find roasting nuts infinitely multiplies the flavor adding complexity and depth to a dish, and is therefore worth the small effort.
5. Chiffonade The Basil: If you’ve got oodles of basil and want to know how the heck to chiffonade it, check out this Hummus Stuffed Sweet Potato With Basil recipe.
6. Stuff The Sweet Potatoes: When the sweet potatoes are finished baking, remove them from the oven and cut a seam along the long edge, careful to avoid cutting all the way through. Gently squeeze each sweet potato so it opens to create room for stuffing. Place a large spoonful of the browned tempeh-onion mix. Drench with lots of homemade marinara and top with toasted walnuts and basil.
Optional: sprinkle with nutritional yeast for an extra protein boost. At 8 grams of protein per Tbs., nutritional yeast is a protein-powerhouse. When sprinkled over warm marinara, the sauce will absorb it and take on a cheesy flavor.
Cocoa Powder. I added cocoa powder to the marinara recipe, because chocolate is a health food in my book — and yet, not as much as you might think.
When you hear about the amazing health benefits of chocolate, these studies usually refer to chocolate in its raw form — also called cacao. Cocoa powder is derived from the cacao plant, and processed into powder through a series of steps that include fermenting, roasting and grinding the cacao beans. This processing unfortunately strips many of the enzymes and antioxidant content we like to attribute to chocolate.
However, despite being processed, cocoa powder still is high in protein and fiber and has no sugar. So while your ordinary chocolate bar in the candy aisle shouldn’t be considered healthy, you should incorporate unsweetened cocoa powder into your sweet and savory recipes guilt-free.
For The Win:
Homemade Marinara. There are many items I think are ridiculous to buy at the store. Hummus, salad dressing and marinara are a few. These foods are so easy to make at home, and with a little practice, you can make them better than your favorite brands or store-bought versions.
Plant-Based Protein. There is a perennial argument among plant-based eaters and carnivores over how much protein we need. While I generally feel we exaggerate how much protein is necessary, and are mislead when we start counting macros and thinking of food as merely a sum of nutrients that need to be tracked and optimized, there are certain days when I know a little extra protein is just what my body needs. If I’ve been training especially hard during the week, or just want to feel satisfied without eating a lot of junky calories, a high-protein meal can feel like a restorative indulgence.
If you’re one of those people who likes to track and is counting grams of protein, you’ll be happy to know this meal delivers about 25 grams of per serving. Compare that to the amount of protein in a typical homemade quarter pound hamburger, made from 80% lean ground-chuck, which has about 20 grams.