Protein gets a ton of attention for being the macro nutrient that makes us strong, satiated and super sexy. While the evidence is showing more and more that we don’t need near the amount of it that some fad diets insist we do, it’s still a vital component of our diets. The human body needs protein to repair and build tissue as well as synthesize some hormones and enzymes.
According to the Centers For Disease Control, the recommended daily allowance for protein should be .8 grams per kilogram of body weight, meaning that the average 150 pound person would require 54.4 grams per day. The question is, can we achieve this amount on plants alone?
The answer is, you bet we can! Not only is it incredibly easy to fulfill this requirement, it’s delicious too. Meat, dairy and eggs are all touted for their high protein content, but the negative health effects that they come with make them inappropriate choices for our health. Plants lack the cancer-causing, heart disease generating, gastrointestinal distress promoting gifts with purchase that animal protein comes with, making them cleaner choices.
Clean and downright seductive, if we do say so ourselves. In fact, these protein options are so desirable that we think they deserve their own calendar. Here’s 12 of our favorite plant based protein cover models.
This one is our January cover model because its the highest protein content of ALL plant based foods, packing 4 grams of the stuff in just one little teaspoon. We never knew algae could be so sultry! Crunch away on Spirulina Vegan Sesame Bars and then wash it down with a Tropical Green Spirulina Smoothie.
2. Beans and Legumes
White beans and lentils and chickpeas, oh my! These delicious little power houses have 19 grams of protein per cup for the white beans and lentils while the chickpeas have a staggering 40 grams per cup! Watch the game with some Buffalo Roasted Chickpeas and some Cilantro Avocado Chickpea Salad Tacos.
A fermented soy bean cake, it’s a bit easier to digest than its tofu counterpart but just as versatile and vivacious. It also contains just under 31 grams of protein per cup, earning it a coveted spot as our March model! Tempeh Piccata or a little Vegan and Gluten-Free Tempeh Meatballs can get this protein ball rolling onto your dinner table.
When you think of seaweed, we’re sure you’re not thinking protein powerhouse, but you should be. Roughly one cup of the stuff contains 41 grams. Whip up a few Raw Vegan Nori Wraps with Spicy Dipping Sauce or some Vegan Fish and Chips
Is there anything that says summer like fresh peas? At 8 grams of protein per cup, we think you should give peas a chance. Creamy Pumpkin Seed Alfredo With Kale and Sweet Peas or Raw Peas, Mint and Avocado Soup can perk up your plate.
Broccoli can help up the protein ante in your dishes too. Seriously? Seriously. 1 cup of cooked broccoli contains 4.6 grams of protein. A little Broccoli ‘Cheese’ Pasta Bake or Indian Spicy Potatoes And Broccoli would really hit the spot.
Not just for backpacks and getting Woody Harrelson arrested, hemp packs a protein wallop at 15 grams for 3 tablespoons. Check out Raw Vegan Banana Hemp Seed Sushi Slices or Vegan Cherry Pie With Hemp Seeds And Walnut to get you started.
7 grams of protein in 1/4 cup makes this grain pretty darn attractive. Nutritionally speaking, of course. Oh who are we kidding, teff is gorgeous in every way, especially if you’re trying to eat gluten free. Try it in Gluten-Free Goji Muffins or Deep Dish Apple Cinnamon Skillet Cake With Maple Vanilla Glaze.
There’s a reason that Popeye coveted this green goodness to power his muscles, considering that it packs 6 grams per cup. Butternut Squash, Portobello and Spinach Casserole With Vegan Sausage can help you defeat Bluto, as can ‘Cheesy’ Sprouted Brown Rice with Baby Spinach and Mushrooms.
Delicious, nutritious and equipped with 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup, almonds are an easy way to boost your intake. We like a handful of them just the way they are, but trying out Almond Joy Cookies or some Vegan Linguine with Greens, Chickpeas and Almonds are pretty darn enjoyable too.
Made from wheat gluten, seitan can add protein in the place of meat in your recipes for those who don’t have an issue digesting it. While recipes for it vary, the vital wheat gluten it’s made with contains 75 grams of protein in 100 grams! That’s amazing! Cook up some Braised Seitan Short Ribs in Spicy Chili Sauce or some Seitan Kebabs with Sangria Tomato Salad.
12. Chia Seeds
These little powerhouses are the complete package in that they contain all of the essential amino acids. A humble ounce of these babies have 4.7 grams of protein to make your season bright. Vanilla Bean and Mango Chia Seed Pudding is decadent, as is a Chia Strawberry Smoothie.