According to the United States Dietary Reference Intake guidelines, we need somewhere between 46 to 56 grams of protein per day. Some research has shown that an Americans will individually consume more than double the recommended daily allowance of protein. This is concerning because studies have found that too much protein can lead to cancer, kidney problems, heart disease, weight gain, and osteoporosis. Not great, huh?

But, we do need protein for energy, cellular repair, and production. As our tastes change as we slip out of summer and move into fall, our body’s need for protein doesn’t. Eating meals high in plant-based protein also makes us stay fuller for longer. So as you begin brainstorming for all your meals this fall and winter, try incorporating the following plant proteins into your meals!

1. Cashews

When you start switching to a more plant-based diet, cashews are one ingredient to keep in your cupboard. Cashews contain 21.89 grams of protein in one single cup! And, cashews contain heart protective fats! You can snack on them, use them in gorgeous raw desserts, make them into cheese, nut milk, cashew cream and, of course, throw them into stir fries + salads. You should also soak cashews before you eat them or prepare them in a dish since soaking them in water overnight breaks down the phytic acid allowing them to be digested effectively by the body. Eating nuts that haven’t been soaked may cause a few mineral deficiencies as phytic acid binds to minerals in the gastrointestinal tract. Make a Beet and Avocado Soup with Cashew Cream, Chorizo, Apple, and Chickpeas with Fresh Kale and Cashew Sauce, or a medium spiced Indian Cashew Swiss Chard with Kale or Spinach.

2. Quinoa

In the last few years, we seem to have gone crazy for quinoa! And, there are so many reasons why. Quinoa is high in minerals such as, magnesium, folate and copper. It is gluten-free and, incredibly easy to prepare. And, one cup of cooked quinoa provides you with 8g of protein!

To achieve the best tasting quinoa always remember to rinse the quinoa in a strainer before cooking. And, don’t forget to leave the quinoa to rest for 15 minutes after straining to make it all fluffy. Fill up on quinoa by cooking Roasted Root Vegetables on Quinoa with Yoghurt Sauce or heat up your fall mornings with a generous serving of Healthy Vegan Pomegranate Quinoa Porridge. But, one thing you HAVE to try your quinoa with this fall is this Roasted Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf – believe us, it’s amazing!

3. Beans, Beans, Beans!

Beans are ranked as one of the highest plant-based protein sources. One single cup of black beans will provide you with 15 grams of protein. Research shows that the more beans you eat, the lower your cholesterol will be. As well as reaping the health benefits of beans, using beans in your meals will also increase your satiety. Always remember to soak your beans for a few hours (or overnight) as this will make them easier to cook and digest.

Try these high protein meals that are just perfect for fall, whip up this Lentils with White Bean Potato MashAyurvedic Spinach Mung Detox Soup, High Protein Black Bean Mushroom Soup, a filling Quinoa and White Bean Burger, or go crazy with Ayurvedic Falafel!

4. Chickpeas 

Chickpeas are incredibly easy to prepare and simple to flavor, making them the perfect ingredient for making a meal after a long day at work and a rainy walk home. As well as being a great plant based protein, chickpeas are a complex carbohydrate which means that their energy will be slowly released into your body.  Yay! This means no nasty sugar crashes! You can roast chickpeas in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit and cook until golden brown, which usually takes anywhere from 30-40 minutes. Then, throw them into a bowl filled with your desired flavors. For a sweet snack toss the chickpeas in cinnamon & honey. For a savory snack , try garlic, freshly milled black pepper and dried rosemary, which tastes amazing!

Throw together this Tangy Vegan Chickpea Salad, these high protein Chickpea and Quinoa Cakes, or a Coconut Cauliflower and Chickpea Soup! Oh, chickpeas, oh how you taste so good in any meal!

5. Tofu

Tofu contains around 20.2 grams of protein in one cup, protects the body with zinc, Vitamin B1, calcium, and  soy has been found to lower cholesterol. The key to amazing tofu is to remove as much moisture as possible – this will make the tofu nice and crispy! You can remove the moisture by pressing a weight on top of the tofu and draining away any excess moisture. Get experimenting with your tofu and rustle up this Ayurvedic Lentil Crusted Tofu with Awesome Dipping Sauce, Miso Roasted Pumpkin and Grilled Tofu Over Udon Noodles, Curry with Tofu and Grilled Vegetables, and indulge in this Savory Vegan Pumpkin Pie with Shiitake Mushroom Streusel, – how delicious?!

6. Lentils

I love eating lentils during the fall and winter months. They leave you feeling full, making them an excellent lean protein choice. One cup of lentils contains around 18 grams of protein. They are also high in fiber and iron. For tender lentils, bring them on a rapid simmer and then keep them on a low heat until cooked. Cook up some Turnips with Caramalized Onions and Toasted Lentils, Zen Lentil and Quinoa Kitchari or, warm yourself up on a chilly evening with a bowl of South Indian Lentil Stew!

Image source: Curry With Tofu and Grilled Vegetables