How a Plant-Based Chef Adds Extra Protein to Her Avocado Toast

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Photo: Getty Images / istetiana
2020 has taken so much from us—hugs, sneezing brazenly into crowds—but it cannot (or, has not... yet?) take our avocado toast. This is one small consolation, at least for me. And while the OG schmear, e.g. simple 'cado on toast, is one of the most perfect culinary inventions of all time, that doesn't mean it can take us through the next decade without a little zhuzh. 

Enter vegan chef and Sweet Potato Soul creator Jenné Claiborne. On a recent AMA event posted to the Well+Good Cook With Us page, Claiborne noted her love for the popular brunch staple and added that she has a few tricks up her sleeve for making it more satiating, some of which—not coincidentally—also substantially up the protein quotient.

For starters, she loves a bean or lentil-based topper, and points out that both have been the (affordable) staple protein in diets around the world for thousands of years. For the purpose of topping off her avocado toast with a little pulse action, Claiborne tries to make a bean salad every week, which can also be used in larger salads or eaten on its own. In a pinch, however, she recommends a simple vinaigrette with raw garlic "for a punch" as an easy way to season beans.

Roasted chickpeas are also a fave protein-packed avocado toast topper for the chef, and she makes hers with a combination of fairly basic pantry ingredients: olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, oregano, cumin seeds, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper. A simpler version—with just olive oil, salt, and pepper—works, too. (Feeling lazy? Try a hummus layer under your avocado instead.)

FYI: Chickpeas are one of the healthiest legumes out there. A top RD breaks down all the benefits:

And while you're roasting things up, Claiborne recommends tossing some mushrooms onto your sheet pan as another toast topper, or opt to sauté them instead. And while 'shrooms aren't heavy on protein, they're a go-to animal-alternative in vegan kitchens for good reason; they have a hearty, meat-like texture that's especially filling. Plus, they're packed with vitamins.

Speaking of which, Claiborne recommends garnishing any of the above with a green, whether it be arugula or microgreens. She especially loves nutritionally-rich broccoli sprouts. As an added bonus, you can grow these on your own to help make grocery store trips less frequent. Avocado trees take up *slightly* more room, but might not be the worst idea if you're looking to ensure access to avo toast forever. Priorities, people.

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