I tend to be surprised nowadays when I hear people asking what sources of plant-based protein are out there. It’s probably the first big question people get asked when they switch to a plant-based diet. However, there’s no shortage here. The staples include common items like tofu, tempeh, seitan, broccoli, nuts, beans, and seeds, hooray!

Proteins are important for our health, and we’re lucky they are so readily available to us. Fellow OGP writer, Annalisa Palmer, lays it out for us: “Proteins also play a key role as enzymes, catalyzing or speeding up chemical reactions by reducing the amount of activation energy a given reaction requires. But, humans can only create 10 of the 20 essential amino acids, and amino acids are not stored like fat and starch in the body, which is why consuming protein is so important.”

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So, we know how to find protein packed snacks, clean proteins, and foods full of protein. However, what about the protein sources that are hiding away in plain sight? Are there some that we just don’t know about yet? It’s hard to believe, but I’m going to do my best to surprise you. If I don’t, I’m impressed with your plant-based knowledge! Maybe you know of a plant-based protein source that’s little-known? If so, let us know! Perhaps we can cook up a great recipe that features it. So, let’s go searching!

Hemp Seeds

You can find 10 grams of protein in just three tablespoons of hemp seeds: woah! The complexity of hemp seeds leads to a long list of nutritional benefits including tid-bits lik this:  “A 1.5-tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains five grams of protein, 86 milligrams of magnesium, 10 percent daily value of iron, 1245 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids and 436 milligrams of Omega-6 fatty acids!” Try them out in creamy and delicious hemp pesto: yum!

Bulgur

Bulgar features 5.5 grams of protein in 1/4 cup, and it’s also very low in fat and high in fiber. You can cook it up like most any grain and use it in salads, tabbouleh, and even baked goods. If you want an easy first recipe that looks and tastes great, check out our recipe for Bulgur with Curcuma, Veggies, Nuts, and Cranberries. Look at all that nutrition on your plate!

Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds ring in with 6 grams of protein in three tablespoons. These little dots of deliciousness don’t need to just wait for your lemon poppy seed muffins! Poppy seeds are also high in fiber and calcium. Try this recipe with potatoes in a poppy seed paste for something new.

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Raisins

You’ll find 5 grams of protein per cup in raisins — betcha didn’t know that! If you did, I bow to you, oh knower-of-protein-sources! Raisins are low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium, and for the best health benefits be sure to get ones made without sugar. Just like our poppy seed friends, give raisins some more room in your recipes!  It’s even been proven that raisins make an effective snack for fueling your workout. I know what you really want, though: this chocolate covered raisin recipe. Welcome to Yum-city. Population? You, plus one cup raisins.

Artichokes

No joke! One cup of artichokes has almost 6 grams of protein, and they are also a good source of fiber and vitamin C! The holy grail of artichoke recipes, in my humble opinion, is the classic Spinach and Artichoke dip, and this recipe is flawless. Looking for something new to try? How about walnut-crusted artichoke hearts? Brava!

There you have it:  several places you can find protein in foods you’d never think were packing it! Enjoy these and other delicious plant-based proteins as much as you can!

Image source: Hire Capacity / Creative Commons

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