Keeping a garden may not seem like the most intuitive way to get economical, protein-rich foods into your diet, but there are plenty of high-protein vegetables that you can grow. In fact, some of the easiest vegetables to grow are quite high in protein, making them excellent sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans eager to grow their own food.
If you want to add high-protein vegetables to your garden and diet, these plants are the way to go.
Easy-to-Grow, High-Protein Vegetables
Pumpkin (for the Pumpkin Seeds)
Although growing pumpkins can take up a lot of space and water, doing so offers a bounty of benefits in the way of nutritious crop, decorative possibilities, and protein-rich seeds. In fact, grow your own pumpkins and you’ll get anywhere from 19.0 – 29.0 grams of protein per 100 grams of pumpkin seeds produced. (Not sure how “big” 100 grams is? Envision one stick of butter or 1/2 cup of something. Now think of about 1/3rd of that being pure protein. Not bad for something you can grow in your own in your backyard!)
If you’ve never tried growing them, you might be surprised to learn that growing peanuts is quite easy. Related to beans and peas, peanuts are one of only a handful of self-pollinating plants that offer a high-protein crop. Plus, they’re actually quite pretty, producing lovely, little yellow flowers and clover-like leaves. Second only to pumpkin seeds in terms of protein-rich plants worth growing in your garden, raw peanuts provide roughly 26 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.
Although most people think of soybeans as a processed food used in tofu, soybeans are a snap to grow. Grow edamame (aka soybeans) in your garden and you’ll grow a tasty, versatile vegetable that offers plenty of preparation possibilities. (Think roasted, pureed for dips, in stews, in soups, in salads, and more.)
Fresh, cooked soybeans can provide nearly 10.0 grams of protein per 100-gram serving, which is an easy amount to harvest from this prolific, easy-to-grow vegetable.
Another legume on the list of high-protein vegetables, peas provide about 5.4 grams of protein per 100-gram serving. And, although that’s nearly half of what soybeans can provide, green peas are typically more versatile in the kitchen. Depending on variety, you can eat them fresh or use them in salads, dips, stews, soups and much, much more.
Another nice thing about peas is that they’re incredibly well-suited for vertical gardening. So, if you’re short on space but still eager to grow your own food, growing peas is a great way to make the most of the space you have!
Kale is pretty trendy right now, and for good reason: Kale is a hyper-nutritious leafy green that’s rated as an excellent source for vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Plus, growing kale is pretty easy, and it can even perform very well in the winter if you garden with cloches and cold frames. Kale offers roughly 4.5 grams of protein per 100-gram serving.
If you’re looking for more cool-season, cruciferous vegetables high in protein, try growing Brussels sprouts. (But be warned: You’ll need plenty of space and harvesting can be a chore. If space is an issue, there are dwarf varieties available, but they tend to be harder to harvest.)
For each 100-grams of sprouts you grow, you’ll reap roughly 4 grams of vegetable protein.
But, But, But… What About Beans?
No list of vegetables high in protein would be considered complete without including the many (many) types of beans that you can grow. Even so, I chose not to include them. Here’s why: Dry beans are easily accessible and extremely economical, so unless you’re growing acres of your own food, the likelihood that you want to grow and dry your own black beans, lentils and lima beans is pretty slim. If, however, you’re looking for some cool heirlooms to grow, check out the beans. There are some very neat heirloom varieties of beans out there that are chock full of protein.
For more information on keeping a high-protein garden or growing the high-protein vegetables on this list, visit the Gardening Guides page. Good luck!