There are countless benefits to a plant-based diet. However, with any lifestyle choice, there are certain challenges or areas of attention that need to be addressed in order to achieve the best possible result. This is where helpful hints like these come in. With a little knowledge and creativity, it’s not only possible to get an ample amount of protein, but also the right types. Here are some tips and ideas to help ensure that your protein needs are not just met, but surpassed in a satisfying way.
What is a Complete Protein?
You’re probably aware that a complete protein source contains all the essential amino acids that the body needs. Many food options contain some of these amino acids, but not all. In order to make sure you are getting all the necessary building blocks of a well-rounded diet, you can pair certain complementary protein sources with one another in a dish or throughout the day to create a complete profile. You can also simply integrate a vegan source of complete protein into your meal. Luckily, there are easy ways to include these into recipes while maintaining delicious and interesting new flavors.
Chickpea and Edamame Quinoa/One Green Planet
Although this is no new ingredient to vegans, quinoa has an impressive set of benefits including high fiber, calcium, iron, antioxidants, and more protein than any other seed or grain. It’s also a great source of complete protein, of course.
These tiny seeds pack a big punch. With benefits such as Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber, their valuable characteristics were even utilized by the Aztecs. Since the flavor is so mild, you can sprinkle chia seeds onto any dish to add nutrients and protein. The possibilities are endless!
Although these are beginning to garner increased attention, hemp deserves even more recognition for being one of the most nutrient dense food sources around. This superfood is full of vitamin E, iron, omega-3 and omega-6 acids, and plenty of fiber to nourish you with more than just protein.
Soy is a source of complete protein and often the keystone component of a vegan diet. It is enjoyed as tofu or in original soybean/edamame form. Keep yourself from getting tired of its usual flavor by experimenting with new recipes, like these Roasted Tofu Parmesan Sandwiches or Cilantro Edamame Burgers which will get you excited about the versatility of this ingredient all over again.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
With a broad array of advantages, pumpkin seeds have more to offer than meets the eye. These provide Zinc, Vitamin E, and have even been studied for their effects in reducing prostate and ovarian cancer.
If you’re feeling lazy but still need a boost, make this easy Pumpkin Seed Butter to spread on all your favorite snacks as the perfect pick-me-up.
6. Pair Barley with Lentils
Teach Me To Hope/Flickr
Although just shy of being complete protein sources on their own, barley and lentils are a perfect pairing. When enjoyed together, these two ingredients are a match made in heaven and result in a complete protein. Their flavors also work wonderfully together in countless recipes. A great way to do this is by making a soothing Barley Lentil Soup.
As a gluten-free alternative to many grain bases, buckwheat is not only considered a source of complete protein but also allows for better mineral absorption than other grains due to its low phytic acid levels.
To start your day off right with a hefty dose of complete protein, try out these Buckwheat Hemp Pancakes which are equally tasty and nutrient-packed. You can also bake it into a delicious Hummus Buckwheat Bread for a versatile and savory snack.
This is a classic combo but for good reason. Rice and beans are the perfect duo to provide you with complete protein as well as plenty of iron, magnesium, and calcium in your diet.
If you’re aiming to keep it simple, try out this Cilantro, Lime and Black Bean Rice to have on hand when you need some sustenance. You can also get creative by exploring 5 Easy Ways to Spruce Up Classic Rice and Beans to get new ideas on how to keep this staple dish exciting and new.
If you’re interested in getting extra info on this topic, take a look at 5 Easy Ways to Be Sure You’re Getting Enough Complete Protein. Also, for more recipes using these ingredients mentioned, take a look at the Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, or check us out on Instagram and Facebook. You can discover new recipes every day to provide some inspiration for a healthy plant-based lifestyle.
Lead image source: Black Bean Hemp Burgers