Who’s anxious to bite into a brownie made with algae? According to a presentation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists, algae, quinoa and legumes are considered by some food technologists to be the best alternative protein sources to slow meat consumption, reduce food waste and help feed the world’s growing population.

As you previously learned from Spanky’s Korner, plant-based diets may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. Algae are plants that have many health benefits and a similar carbon footprint when compared to other vegan protein sources like soy and rice. Most algae are 63 percent protein, 15 percent fiber, 11 percent lipids, 4 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent micronutrients and 3 percent moisture. Plus, algae are easily digested and heart healthy. Maybe Chef Steve should whip up a batch of oatmeal raisin blondies with algae?

Legumes, beans, chickpeas and lentils are also high in protein, making these choices great for vegetarians and vegans. Plus, they are gluten-free, non-allergenic, non-GMO and sustainable.

Another protein alternative is quinoa, which continues to grow in popularity. There are currently more than 1,400 quinoa products on the market. Spanky’s Kitchen loves cooking with quinoa and we have a delicious recipe to share for Kale and Sweet Potato Black Quinoa, courtesy of our Brooklyn blogger friend, Gadabout Food.

Kale and Sweet Potato Black Quinoa

4 servings


1 cup black quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 bunch kale, stems discarded and leaves torn into 2-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed. This will take about 12 minutes.

While preparing the quinoa, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the sweet potatoes and onions. Cook, tossing occasionally, until the sweet potatoes are golden and beginning to soften. This will take about 5 minutes.

Add the kale, sea salt and black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, tossing often, until the vegetables are tender.

Combine vegetables with the cooked quinoa and serve immediately. Season with salt and pepper, if needed.

Patty Manousos
Chief Operating Officer