Though you have been conditioned to think otherwise, there are many ways to get protein without turning to meat! Many people think that just because I am vegetarian that I am not getting enough protein. In fact, I am actually getting better quality protein than I ever did eating animal-based foods.
Plant protein is often deemed inferior to animal protein because it is labelled as an incomplete protein. Combining even a few plant proteins creates a complete protein that the body easily digests. Plant based proteins unlike animal proteins do not place a burden on the kidneys or liver. They are easy to assimilate and help to build muscles and tissues readily and efficiently.
There is an assortment of high protein plant sources available including: hemp, sprouts, protein powder, tempeh, and quinoa. Similar to animals, humans may also get adequate protein from plant sources. The good news is that these proteins are easy to digest and the body uptakes them very well making them an efficient and effective source of protein.
Here are my top five types of protein sources:
Quinoa - Quinoa is not only a high source of protein, but it is also considered a complete protein as it contains all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa is an amazing option for breakfast porridge, lunch salads or dinner pilafs. Try this refreshing Quinoa Tabbouleh salad.
Hemp - Hemp seeds are also considered a complete source of protein, which is easily digested and absorbed by the body. Hemp's nutritional profile is remarkable containing 36 per cent protein. In addition to its great source of protein, hemp also contains the exact ratio of healthy fats that the body needs for optimal health. Try this hemp seed salad for an extra boost!
Protein Powder - A plant-based protein powder is an easy and delicious way to get a healthy intake of protein. Chose a sprouted brown rice powder for maximum grams of absorbent and digestible protein. You can include protein powder in a morning smoothie, berry bowl, or even a power shake post workout.
Tempeh - Tempeh, increasing in popularity, is a fermented version of tofu. It has a unique nutty flavour, and is much denser than tofu resulting in a more satisfying meal choice. Tempeh adapts the flavours of other foods and marinades making it easy to incorporate into many dishes. Check out how you can grill tempeh just in time for summer BBQs here!
Sprouts - Sprouts are full of essential nutrients that support optimal health. When something is sprouted its nutritional value doubles. The process of sprouting seeds increases the quality of nutrients such as protein. Sprouts are an amazing item to incorporate into your diet. Not to mention they are low in calories and fat, and they are rich sources of vitamins, enzymes, antioxidants and protein.
We would love to hear about what your favourite plant-based sources of protein are. Tweet your favourite proteins to @NourishedFully!
A cup of iron-rich lentils packs 18 grams of protein -- almost as much as three ounces of steak. Flickr photo by little blue hen
Regular yogurt's thickier, tangier cousin can contain up to twice the amount of protein, all for about the same number of calories and a lot less sugar, according to U.S. News Health. Depending on the brand and container serving size, Greek yogurt can pack anywhere from about 13 to 18 grams of protein. Flickr photo by bpende
One cup of garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, contains 15 grams of protein, as does a cup of black or kidney beans. Flickr photo by Jude Doyland
A half-cup serving of tofu contains more than 10 grams of protein, according to the USDA. Flickr photo by katiecarman
A firmer, chewier cousin of tofu, a half-cup serving of this soybean-based bite has 15 grams of protein. Flickr photo by little blue hen
Cook a cup of the leafy green for more than 5 grams of protein. Spinach is also a good source of calcium and iron. Flickr photo by ToastyKen
A cooked cup of this whole grain contains more than 8 grams of protein, and a hearty dose of filling fiber. Other grains, like brown rice and bulgur, are good meat-free protein options too. Flickr photo by Lucy Crabapple
Almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and other nuts are all good meat-free protein sources, according to Rodale, but peanuts top the list. One ounce of dry-roasted peanuts contains nearly 7 grams of protein. Plus, nuts are loaded with healthy fats -- just don't eat too many! Flickr photo by Vinni123
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