Where do you get your protein? It’s a question that anyone who has given up meat or is cutting down is probabaly familiar with. Many people know that soy products such as tofu and tempeh are a great source of plant-based protein. They also understand that nuts, seeds and beans make up a bulk of our protein intake. Unfortunately, this leads some to think that all we eat is tofu and beans. This is simply untrue! Here’s a list of 10 vegan foods that are packed with protein.
Hummus is loaded with protein, courtesy of its two main ingredients, garbanzo beans and tahini. Bored by the plain variety? Try some new hummus flavors that are out of the box, such as this Spicy Sweet Potato Hummus, Fresh Pumpkin and Kale Hummus or Roasted Red Pepper Hummus. Looking for even more protein for your post-workout snack? Try spinach, tofu, avocado or black bean hummus. Get creative!
Wondering what to do with that leftover jar of homemade tahini? Fortunately, there are many other uses for it besides hummus. Sesame seed paste, or tahini, can be used in salad dressings, dipping sauces, baked goods, spreads and dips. Use tahini in place of mayonnaise in potato salad or Asian slaw. Another option is to make a warm dressing and serve it over steamed or grilled vegetables.
Garbanzo beans (also known as chickpeas) are extremely versatile. Read all about them in our Spotlight on Chickpeas. Look for garbanzo bean or chickpea flour in the grocery store. It can usually be found in the gluten-free section. Add it to baked goods for a creamy, rich flavor. The flour can also be used as a thickening agent for soups, sauces and gravies. The traditional Middle Eastern dish falafel is a delicious example of the use of chickpeas. They are also great on salads or simply baked as a snack. Toss them with a little olive oil and the seasonings of your choice. Bake in a 400º oven until golden and crispy. You now have a healthy alternative to popcorn! This Baked Falafel Salad is AMAZING!
Avocado contains healthy, monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to slow brain aging. Avocado has also been shown to help protect against certain types of cancer, and are a great source of antioxidant vitamin E. They provide all 8 essential amino acids necessary for the body to form a complete protein. When most people think of avocados, the first thing that comes to mind is guacamole. While delicious, it’s not the only thing avocados are good for.
Try adding some avocado in your morning green smoothie. Trust us, it will add an unbeatable creamy texture. If you real fan then add it into an avocado “alfedro” sauce for pasta or blend it into a soup like this delicious Raw Creamy Mushroom Soup with Avocado. Don’t forget about dessert, this amazing fruit can quickly turn into a superb creamy icing for any cake!
Pistachios are a low-calorie nut and are an excellent source of protein and fiber. A single ounce of roasted pistachio nuts delivers 13 percent of the recommended daily intake of protein and 12 percent of the recommended daily intake of fiber. A great way to use them is in homemade granola. Oats contain protein too. In fact, oat protein is almost equal in quality to soy protein. Add some soy or almond milk to the mix and you have a delicious, high-protein breakfast! Pistachios are also great in salads, pilaf, trail mix and desserts! For a twist, substitute pistachios for pine nuts in pesto. Don’t forget about pistachio pudding for dessert!
Quinoa contains significant quantities of essential vitamins and minerals including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and copper. A cup of cooked quinoa also contains 8 grams of complete protein and 5 grams of fiber! Read all about this superseed in our guide to Quinoa. Use it in place of rice for a much more nutritious side dish. Try it cold in a salad or warm in a burrito or pilaf and don’t forget to check out these amazing Quinoa Recipes.
5. Chia Seeds
Remember those Chia Pet commercials you used to always see as a kid? Ch-ch-ch-chia! Yes, those are the chia seeds I’m referring to. Besides being a fun novelty item, chia seeds are also a protein powerhouse. Just 1 tablespoon of chia seeds contains 5 grams of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 2282 mg of Omega 3 and 752 mg of Omega 6 fatty acids! Read all about Chia seeds in our Chia Guide. You can blend the seeds into juice and smoothies, add them into soups, stews, and chillis, or roll the little guys into raw chocolate protein balls. They make a wonderful pudding, similar in consistency to tapioca, without needing to be cooked or use as a thickening agent for soups and gravies. Chia seeds also make a great egg substitute. You will need 1 tablespoon finely ground seeds and 3 tablespoons of water per egg called for in the recipe.
6. Green Peas
Eat your peas! Turns out, mom really did know what she was talking about. These little guys contain about 8 grams of protein per cup. If you think you don’t like peas, try them fresh out of the garden. They are actually quite sweet. Still not convinced? Sneak them into stir fries, soups and salads. Or, go for the gusto with this raw pea soup. Our favorites are these two knock off pea dishes; the Sweet Pea Hummusand the Knock-off-amole!
With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Lentils are the easiest legumes to work with. They do not need to be soaked overnight and can be on your table in as little as 20 minutes. While, soups, stews andsalads are common dishes that contain lentils. For your next cookout, try lentil veggie burgers, lentil tacos or this out-of-the-world lentil loaf!
8. Hemp Seeds
The amino acid profile of hemp seeds is close to “complete” when compared to more common sources of proteins such as meat, milk, eggs and soy. Hemp protein contains all 21 known amino acids, including the 9 essential ones adult bodies cannot produce. You can sprinkle them on just about anything. They impart a rich, nutty flavor. Try using hemp seed oil in your salad dressing or hemp milk on your granola. Want to pump up the protein factor in your pesto? Try this killer Creamy Hemp Pesto.
Almonds, like all nuts, are very high in protein. A 1/4 cup serving of almonds contains 8 grams of protein. You can add them to your cereal, salad, trail mix, or granola. My favorite way to use them is in almond butter (Check out this video guide on how to make it yourself!). Spread it on apple slices or toast and you have the perfect protein snack! Experiment with other nut butters such as cashew, pecan, macadamia or a combination. Be sure to try almond yogurt and almond cheese as well! Here are 10 amazing vegan recipes infused with almonds.
A list of vegan foods packed with protein would not be complete without the mention of soy in some form. Try dry roasted edamame for a healthy snack on the go. We’ve seen them covered in dark chocolate, which would up your protein intake even more. Another thing to try is tofu noodles. They are great because the noodles are gluten-free, extremely low in calories and ready-to-eat. Think tofu is tasteless? Think again! Read this guide to learn how to cook with tofu, with some delicious recipes. Try serving them with an avocado “alfredo” sauce for a protein-packed meal. Just be sure you choose organic/non-GMO soy, and as with most foods, moderation is the rule.
This shows that a well-balanced plant-based diet is anything but devoid of protein. It also doesn’t consist of eating the same thing every day. Share this list with all skeptics you know and maybe one day vegans will no longer be asked, “But where do you get your protein?”
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Lead image source: How to Make Homemade Almond Butter
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