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Many people wonder if a plant- based diet can provide them with enough protein, but rest assured – plants have protein too! Making plant foods your main source of protein isn’t such a crazy idea since all protein is actually made from plants. Animals don’t create protein, they just ingest it. Only plants have the ability to convert nitrogen into amino acids, the building blocks of protein. All animal protein is simply recycled plant protein. Almost everyone gets more protein than they actually need – vegetarians and vegans included!

According to the USDA, how much protein you need per day depends on two factors: your sex and age. The USDA Dietary Guidelines generally recommends 46g of protein per day for adult females and 56g of protein per day for adult males That being said, some foods have more protein than others. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all very high in protein, so by including these in your diet you can easily swap out the protein you are used to eating with plant foods.

Black Bean Chocolate Chili

Makes 4-6 servings

1 quart good quality vegetable broth, or 1 quart water with 2 veggie boullion cubes
1 14.5 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 generous T. vegetable oil
1 onion, cut into medium dice
1 red bell pepper cut into medium dice
1/3 T. chili powder or to taste. (The combination of chocolate and chili is sublime!)
1 tsp. each ground cumin and oregano (I usually add more)
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained.
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 ounce bittersweet baking chocolate
¼ cup fresh cilantro (optional – but it really adds a pop of fresh flavor)
Cubed avocado for garnish (optional)

Heat the oil in a large soup pan or Dutch oven. Add the onions and peppers; sauté until soft and golden brown – about 5 minutes. Add chili powder, cumin, and oregano and sauté until fragrant, a minute or so. Add the beans, the vegetable stock, and the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have blended, about 20 minutes. Stir in garlic and chocolate and simmer for just a couple of minutes to blend the flavors. Turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes. Adjust seasonings. Add more chili powder or a touch more chocolate if desired. Spoon into bowls and top with chopped fresh cilantro and avocado.
I serve this with fresh cornbread. Delicious!!!