The Pokémon craze was after my time, but in one way, I understand it. When it comes to any cookbook by Terry Hope Romero, I am compelled to catch them all. She seriously knows her flavors, and I have every cookbook that she’s ever authored or co-authored. Her cookbook, Viva Vegan, is still one of my all-time favorites, and Vegan Eats World is my go-to resource whenever I’m craving a cuisine that’s unavailable in my small town.
Her newest cookbook is Protein Ninja, which is the yang to the yin of Salad Samurai, her previous tome. Protein Ninja offers 100 hearty plant-based recipes that put the emphasis on amping up the protein in your diet.
I was jazzed right away with the concept, because I typically opt for meals that are high in protein by way of beans, tofu, nuts, seeds, or seitan. Foods like that make me feel satiated and have staying power.
In addition to recipes with those ingredients, over half of the recipes use 5 different varieties of protein powder. For people who are athletes, have specific exercise goals, or need additional protein because they’re pregnant or lactating, I could see this being a draw. A person may not always want to drink her supplement in a smoothie. For myself, I’m not really interested in adding protein powders to my repertoire. They’re expensive, I don’t see myself using them elsewhere in my life, and I already get plenty of protein in my diet without additional supplementation. After skipping recipes using protein powder, that left about 36 recipes from which to choose.
The cookbook includes basics, smoothies, pancakes, baked goods, savory & sweet toasts, burgers, bowls, and sweet treats.
I made two recipes from the toast chapter:
The first was chickpea pesto tomato toast. The thick chickpea spread is made in a similar fashion to typical pesto, but with chickpeas thrown in for extra body and oomph. It is then slathered onto toast with tomato, avocado, salt & black pepper.
I had plenty of this tasty spread leftover, and so I also used it as a filling for a cheeseless quesadilla along with avocado.
Next I made white bean & cashew ricotta toast. The ricotta is made with a mixture of raw cashews and cannellini beans. There’s an option of topping it with sweet or savory toppings, and I went with the former. It’s garnished with strawberries, fresh mint leaves, pure maple syrup, and sea salt.
I could see this light breakfast being a nice starter at a brunch gathering or afternoon tea. I think it would also work well with fresh basil leaves instead of mint.
From the noodle bowl chapter:
For the 5-spice chickpea noodle bowl, rice noodles are drizzled with peanut sauce and topped with seasoned chickpeas, radishes, and greens. Peanut sauce is one of my love languages, and this one was no exception. It had just the right balance of spicy, sweet, and sour.
The main seasonings on the chickpeas were tamari and Chinese 5-spice powder. I really need to stop being tricked by 5-spice (the most devious of the Spice Girls). I am not a fan of cloves at all, and that’s one of the main ingredients in that seasoning. I would totally make this recipe again, though. I’d just swap out the chickpeas for lime baked tofu instead. And if you’re a fan of 5-spice, by all means, make it as written.
Something to keep in mind: some of the preparation times listed seem off or inflated. I’ve only made 4 recipes, and so I can’t speak to how valid all of them are; however, I know that the noodle bowl was listed as taking an hour to make, and I was easily done in a half an hour. Perhaps they didn’t take multi-tasking into the equation.
From the burger bowls section:
The salad that blew up my Instagram feed from Salad Samurai was the backyard buffalo ranch caesar salad. I think Protein Ninja’s equivalent will be the Korean tofu taco salad. It was easily my favorite thing that I made. I love adding sauerkraut to salads, and this one uses the Korean equivalent – kimchi. Keep in mind, kimchi is sometimes made with anchovies or fish sauce. It wasn’t hard to find vegan kimchi, though. My usual grocery store had 3 different kinds, and all of them were vegan.
The salad also includes fried tofu that’s seasoned with kimchi juice, garlic, lime, and Korean red pepper powder. I didn’t already have Korean red pepper powder in my pantry, but after visiting a couple of Asian markets, I found it. Plus, it wouldn’t be one of Terry’s recipes if I wasn’t visiting multiple markets around town on an ingredient treasure hunt.
The tofu is tossed in a tortilla shell with spinach salad, black beans, and avocado. The variety of flavors with sour, spicy, and sweet had me picking out perfect bite after perfect bite.
If you’re looking to add more protein to your diet or just need to stay up to date with your Terry Hope Romero collection, check out Protein Ninja.