28 Aug 9 Plant-Based Foods High In Protein
There are plenty of reasons to eat more meat-free meals: They’re nearly always cheaper, lower in calories, and better for the environment. Still the doubters often have another concern: without eating meat or eggs, how do you get enough protein?
Most dieticians believe that plant-based diets contain such a wide variety of amino acid profiles that vegans are virtually guaranteed to get all their amino acids with very little effort. So, here are just 9 of the plant-based foods that are high in protein:
1. Veggies: Yep, good old greens will pack a protein punch. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. The same serving of French beans has about 13 grams. Two cups of cooked Brussels Sprouts or broccoli? 8 grams. You get the idea. Did you know, Brussels Sprouts are nutritional superstars? In addition to protein, brussels sprouts pack hefty doses of potassium and vitamin K.
2. Spirulina is incredibly protein rich and one of the few sources of plant-based protein that is mostly protein by dry weight (about 70%). It’s deep blue-green in color and will change anything you mix with it into that color green. It tastes subtly sweet and nutty (hints of vanilla and chocolate), but with a background seaweed flavor. Two tablespoons of spirulina equal 8g protein. Use it to blend in smoothies, or use in snack or dessert recipes.
3. Lentils. With lentils, you can make veggie burgers, casseroles, or even whipped into a hummus-like dip. One cup cooked delivers a whopping 18 grams of protein! What’s more, they’ve been shown to lower cholesterol and reduce risk of heart disease.
4. Organic Tempeh. Tempeh is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and shaping it into a dense cake that can be sliced and pan-fried like tofu. It’s nutty, chewy, and packs significantly more protein and fiber than tofu—and because it’s fermented, it’s easier to digest for some. Per three ounces of serving, you get 16 grams of protein.
5. Organic Tofu. Three ounces of tofu will get you about 8 to 15 grams of protein. Ah, tofu, the classic vegetarian blank slate made from curdled soymilk that’s wonderful pan-fried, sautéed in a stir-fry, and even scrambled. Though it’s not quite as protein-packed as tempeh, its taste may be more tolerable. Opt for organic varieties to avoid genetically modified soy and funky pesticides.
6. Beans. Beans are an amazing source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber. Beans are considered to be a starchy protein to be used similarly to lentils. With one cup of pinto, lima, kidney or black beans, you’ll get about 13-15 grams of protein, and a full belly.
Beans can be used in many ways: cooked with your favorite spices and seasonings, top on salads, combined with rice or quinoa, to make vegetarian meatballs, loafs, or burgers, as a taco filling and even as a ‘meat sauce’ for spaghetti.
7. Wild Rice. Move over, quinoa. Wild rice is the protein-rich grain you should be gravitating toward. Per 1-cup serving (cooked), you get 6.5 g of protein. With a nutty taste and slightly chewy texture, it’s way more satisfying, too.
8. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios and brazil nuts, and more are not only rich in minerals, Vitamin E, and healthy fats but are also protein rich. Nuts vary from type, and some are nuttier in flavor whereas others are more sweet and neutral tasting. Nuts are incredibly versatile to use in sweet or savory dishes. But there’s more. Cashews, for instance, contain 20% of the recommended intake of magnesium, along with 12% of the recommended intake of vitamin K – two essential bone-building nutrients. Almond tops that with 61% of magnesium recommended intake and vitamin E, which is great for skin and hair. In general, ¼ cup of nuts equals 7-9 grams of protein.
You can sprinkle nuts on top of salads or any meal to increase the healthy fat and protein content, use it in granola or muesli, grind it to use as a ‘flour’ or blend it to make your own butter.
9. Seeds. Seeds such as sunflower, sesame, chia, hemp, flax and pumpkin seeds are all both protein and mineral rich. Seeds vary from type, and some are more nutty in flavor whereas others are more sweet and neutral tasting. Pumpkin seeds have an earthy flavor, sesame seeds are very nutty tasting, sunflower seeds are slightly sweet and nutty, and flax and chia seeds taste mildly nutty. ¼ cup of seeds contains around 7-9 grams of protein. You can sprinkle seeds on top of salads, or any meals, use in granola, muesli or other baked goods, grind and use as a ‘flour’ in gluten free baking or to use in desserts.