Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or just looking into starting more of a plant based diet, there are many options to get your protein in, it just requires a bit more creativity! Here are 10 really great sources of protein dense foods:
1. Lentils- found in a variety of colors and part of the legume family. 1 cup of cooked lentils has 18g of protein and 16g of fiber. The protein and fiber in lentils is also linked to better blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced risk of heart disease and colon cancer. Lentils
are super versatile and go well in salads, sandwich wraps, veggie burgers, soups, stews/curry dishes, hummus, or eating them as a side dish.
2. Quinoa- often thought to be a whole grain, but is actually a seed, 1 cup of cooked contains 8g of protein. Its gluten-free so it’s a good choice for people who are allergic to wheat. Quinoa goes well into green salads, stir fry, sandwich wraps,or used as a substitute for rice in any dish.
3. Seeds Hemp- contain heart-healthy fats, mainly omega-3 fatty acids. 3 tablespoons of hemp has about 10g protein. You can add hemp to smoothies, in soups/stews, or even bake into your meals/desserts
4. Chia seeds- absorb water and turn into a gelatinous substance which is why they are great for constipation are pure fiber! Along with omega 3’s and 4g protein per 2 tablespoons great addition to oatmeal, and smoothies
5. Spirulina- one of the few sources of plant-based protein that is mostly protein by dry weight (about 70%) 2 tbsp contain 8g of protein. You can mix into a glass of juice, or in a smoothie.
6. Nutritional yeast- a staple food item in plant-based diets for its versatility, high amounts of B vitamins, and protein content. Nutritional yeast contains no dairy or active yeast, and it’s found in a powder/flake form that creates a paste when mixed with liquid, it’s great for making dairy-free sauces and dressings 3 tbsp contain 12g of protein.
7. Beans- all beans ranging from black beans to garbanzo beans are a great source of protein with 12-18g of protein per cup. – also high in fiber, magnesium, and iron. Another versatile option for a meat substitute in burgers.
8. Ezekiel bread- contains all of the essential amino acids. It’s also usually made from sprouted grains, a process which increases the bread’s fiber and vitamin content, as well as its digestibility 4g protein per 2 slice serving.
9. Soy – Tempeh 15g per 1/2 cup, organic tofu 10g per 1/2 cup, edamame 17g per 1 cup- all complete protein sources containing all amino acids. These sources also carry fiber and healthy fats as well as the protein.
10. Organic plant based protein powder, there are several great tasting supplemental plant proteins however I recommend Garden of Life organic meal. Goes great with almond milk or even water. 20g protein per scoop!
You can also incorporate veggie patties, burgers, protein bars, and cereals (especially puffed kamut 6g protein per cup! For only 100 cals)
A common misconception about plant protein is that you will develop a deficiency from incomplete proteins. However the truth is If you eat a variety of nutrient-rich, whole foods, your body will store what it needs to function optimally in regards to essential amino acids. Nearly all whole foods (including greens and veggies) contain protein, and nearly all forms of protein contain all protein-forming amino acids in some quantity.
Think of a 400lb gorilla. What do they eat to grow that strong muscular body? Leaves, stems, roots, seeds and fruit. Relatively, our bodies are capable of doing the same with plant protein. All of the small changes with choosing the right protein rich plant foods will add up, and you may find you actually have no problem getting in protein at all!