When people think of protein, foods like meat, eggs, milk, and cheese jump to mind. Yet, there are plenty of lesser known plant sources for this ultra-important macronutrient, especially if you are eating a vegan, vegetarian, or otherwise plant-based diet. Protein builds muscle, helps with weight loss and maintenance, as well as strengthens hair, skin, nails, and other tissue. If the body doesn’t get enough protein on a regular basis, it can feel fatigued, mentally foggy, and even sore. Knowing the many non-animal sources of protein is important in making sure you meet your daily requirements and feel your best. Everyone can benefit from a better understanding of plant protein and what foods to get it from. Here are eight sources of plant kingdom protein vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike can enjoy!
- Greens: A one cup serving of chopped kale or cooked spinach yields between 3 and 5 grams of protein, plus fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Due to the high fiber content, a large portion of leafy greens is also satisfying and while the recommended serving size for many meats is about the size of a deck of cards, you can eat a heaping plate of greens without fear of additional fats and cholesterol.
- Plant-Based Protein Powder: Orgain plant-based protein powder offers complete protein derived from sprouted brown rice and pea, with no added sugars, weird preservatives. With a smooth, creamy texture, it’s perfect for stirring into your morning oatmeal or yogurt, making a delicious chocolate berry smoothie, or adding to your favorite pancake recipe!
- Nut Butters: Nuts are a good source of healthy fats, carbohydrates, and protein, making them a nourishing and nutrient dense snack or meal addition. Five ingredient peanut sauce can be drizzled over rice, veggies, and tofu, or try a triple almond protein smoothie or smeared on toast for a satisfying breakfast, snack, or post-workout meal. Try this peanut butter protein fudge for a healthy dessert with good fats and clean protein instead of refined sugar.
- Seeds: Hemp seeds, chia, and flaxseed are loaded with omega 3s, fiber, and protein. Just three tablespoons of hemp seeds provide 10 grams of protein! Try soaking chia and flaxseed to create an egg replacement in vegan baking recipes or sprinkle them on your yogurt and granola or over your smoothie bowls for a little crunch and a whole lot of protein and omega 3s!
- Beans: Chickpeas, pinto beans, black beans, and lentils are easy to whirl into a creamy hummus dip, stir into a kale and white bean soup or hearty vegetarian chili, or even season and spread on toast or toss into a salad. The delicious possibilities are endless!
- Quinoa: An ancient grain that is also a complete protein, quinoa is high in fiber, vitamins, and is gluten free. Try adding it to soups or use it in place of white rice and top with stir fried veggies. Stir up a big batch of this rich, creamy quinoa morning porridge instead of oatmeal and enjoy with dried fruit, maple syrup, or berries all week long.
- Protein Almond Milk: Orgain Protein Almond Milk comes in both unsweetened and lightly sweetened vanilla and is a perfect creamy addition to your morning coffee, smoothie, protein shake, cereal, oatmeal, or to sip alongside a fudgy vegan black bean brownie. With 10 grams of protein and 25% of your daily vitamin D and calcium requirements, getting more out of your almond milk has never tasted so good!
- Tempeh: Made from fermented soy or other beans, tempeh is a savory, satisfying meat substitute. Stir fry it with veggies or marinate and bake tempeh before serving over a salad or in lettuce wraps. Because tempeh is fermented, it also comes with the added bonus of being rich in gut-healthy bacteria, making it great for digestion.