How do you get your protein?
Every vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and even those who eat low quantities of meat will inevitably run into this question. The most believed nutrition principle is that protein is the most important nutrient in your diet. Extra high meat diets, protein shakes, power-bars, amino acid stacks- the options are endless for people trying to get an abundant amount of protein in their meals.
Protein is definitely an important nutrition factor that we should focus on getting adequate amounts of to optimize our overall health. However, if you aren’t the type who relies on meat, fish, poultry, or traditional protein shakes and snacks but would rather get your protein from plants and whole-food sources, we are here to help!
This month we are going to focus on our favorite sources of plant-based protein!
From traditional vegetarian protein sources to some unique plants and algae, we shall offer you some great ideas on how to get precious protein into your diet.
Here are the Best Plant Based Protein Sources:
Beans! (Black Beans, Garbanzo, Soy/Edamame)
Most beans in general have a generous amount of protein in every serving. While garbanzo (also known as chickpeas) and black beans are the most versatile sources in vegetarian and vegan cooking, don’t sleep on Edamame (cooked soybeans). One cup of edamame packs a whopping 18 grams of protein. With all soy products, look for organic as much as possible!
Almonds, peanuts, tree-nuts
One of the greatest sources of dietary fat, peanuts and tree nuts are also tremendous sources of plant-based protein. Not only do different varieties of nuts have different flavors and culinary uses, they also have varying nutrient profiles. Making mixed nuts or mixed nut butters a part of your regular diet is a great way to get healthy fats, proteins and a variety of essential nutrients.
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Possibly the most diversely used protein in vegetarian/vegan diets, lentils are a solid source of both protein and fiber. They can be used to make veggie burgers, hummus, side salads and as a rice replacer. Without an overwhelming natural flavor, lentils go nicely in most dishes and can easily boost your protein content
Chia Seeds, Sunflower Seeds
Seeds are a great source of protein and fat that can be easily incorporated into your diet. Sprinkling them onto a salad, cereal, yogurt or even your main dish, seeds can be added to any food to instantly improve the nutrition content and help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins already present in your food. Our favorite way to get chia seeds and sunflower seeds into our diets is by blending them into our favorite nut butter recipes!
Enjoy the health benefits of Chia and Sunflower Seeds in every bite of our Betsy’s Best Sunflower Seed Butter.
Spirulina + Chlorella
Although not widely used outside of health-focused circles, both Spirulina and Chlorella are amazing sources of protein to add to your diet. These algaes are mainly known for their antioxidant potential due to their high chlorophyll content. This is why they are so green. However the more we investigate algae, we find that they contain 60% available protein. By comparison, meat is usually only 30%. Even though you wouldn’t consume enough protein from algae alone (you would need about 2-3 cups of dried algae each day), they are an amazing addition to smoothies, cereals, juices, or anything else you want to add a kick of plant-powered protein, one tablespoon at a time!
Now that you know the best plant based protein sources you can work them into your healthy lifestyle. If you are a vegetarian it is especially important to eat foods rich in plant protein.