Balanced Meals Made Out of Thanksgiving Leftover

Have you been told to include more plant-based proteins but you aren’t sure where to begin?

Plant-Based Protein

With an emphasis on protein after bariatric surgery, it is easy to get tired of lean animal proteins, such as chicken and turkey. Plant based protein is an alternative source of protein that is oftentimes lower in fat than animal protein. The main difference between animal protein and plant protein is that animal proteins contain all the essential amino acids that are necessary for use by the body. Some plant proteins are complete, but many are incomplete proteins that do not contain all of the essential amino acids. Incomplete plant proteins have the ability to become complete by pairing it with another plant protein that contains the other amino acids that are lacking. By consuming a wide variety of plant based foods throughout the day, it is likely that your individual protein needs will be met.

Some plant-based protein examples & protein per serving

  • Tofu- 20 grams
  • Lentils- 18 grams
  • Edamame-17 grams
  • Tempeh- 17 grams
  • Chickpeas-15 grams
  • Black beans- 15 grams
  • Lima beans- 15 grams
  • Pumpkin seeds- 9 grams
  • Hemp seeds- 9 grams
  • Nut butter- 8 grams
  • Almonds- 8 grams
  • Quinoa- 8 grams
  • Soy milk- 7 grams
  • Nutritional yeast- 5 grams
  • Broccoli- 4 grams

There are many other plant-based protein sources as well. Try one new protein source per week, or one meatless meal per week to increase variety.

Not sure how to incorporate these protein sources?

Beans can be added to wraps, salads, or as a side dish at dinner.

Nuts and seeds can top an oatmeal or yogurt bowl, or can be used in a homemade trail mix.

Quinoa is a higher protein alternative to rice. Cook quinoa in bone broth instead of water for added protein!

Nutritional yeast can be sprinkled on top of any savory dish.

Recipes for each diet progression stage:


Vegetable Puree:


  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 4 medium parsnips
  • 5 medium carrots
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup chicken or bone broth
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • 1 scoop unflavored protein powder


  1. Mince the garlic cloves and chop the parsnips and carrots.
  2. In a large pot, melt the coconut oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about a minute while stirring continuously.
  3. Add the parsnips, carrots, broth, water, oregano, and pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the veggies are soft.
  4. Add the veggie mixture and 1 scoop of unflavored protein powder to a blender or food processor.
  5. Puree the mixture until smooth and well combined.

Nutrition facts:

  • Serving Size: 1 serving (1/3 cup)
  • 118 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 21g carbs, 5.5g fiber, 6g sugar, 4g protein

Recipe adapted from:

Solid foods:

  • Veggie Stackers:
    • Ingredients:
      • 2 large tomatoes, each cut into 6 slices
      • 6 oz 2% mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 slices
      • 1/3 cup light Italian dressing
      • 6 slices red onion
      • 12 slices cucumber
      • 6 leaves fresh basil
    • Directions:
      1. Place 6 tomato slices on platter, top each with 1 cheese slice. Drizzle with half the dressing.
      2. Top each stack with 1 onion slice, 2 cucumber slices, and a second tomato slice.
      3. Drizzle with remaining dressing and top with basil.
    • Nutrition facts:

      • Serving Size: 2 oz
      • 135 calories, 4g fat, 6g carbs, 1g fiber, 4g sugar, 7g protein

        Recipe adapted from: