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Top 10 Protein Rich Plants That Should Be In Your Diet

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Many assume that only meat is high on protein. But plant based proteins like lentils, chia seeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, spirulina, nutritional yeast, seeds, nuts, beans and tofu are some of the top plant based sources of protein. Adding them to your diet can provide several benefits as these contain high levels of protein and come with good amounts of fiber.

Today I’m talking all about my favourite, top 10, plant-based proteins that anyone and everyone can start incorporating into their diets! “So where do you get your protein” is probably one of the most common questions those practicing a plant-centric lifestyle get, and now you can supply them will all this knowledge and say “here!”

Plant Based Proteins To Incorporate Daily

1. Lentils

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Lentils are an amazing source of protein, carbohydrates, and fibre; according to the Emma Olliff Nutrition food pyramid, lentils are considered to be a starchy protein. Split green peas can be added to this category of having a good source of protein

Nutrition

1 cup cooked lentils = 18 gms protein, 1 cup of green peas = 8 gms protein

Uses

  • Cooked with your favorite spices and seasonings and eaten plain
  • Add to salads, soups and stews.
  • Combine with rice or quinoa for a hearty meal
  • Use to make vegetarian meatballs, loafs, or burgers
  • Use as a taco filling or meat sauce for spaghetti

2. Hemp Seeds

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Hemp seeds not only contain protein, but also contain heart healthy fats mainly omega-3 fatty acids. They have a delicious subtly sweet and nutty flavor and are so small in size, they can easily be used and added to any recipe to boost the protein content.

Nutrition

3 tablespoons hemp = about 10 gms protein

Uses

  • Sprinkle on top of salads (Raw Hemp Tabbouleh)
  • Stir into soups, stews, or blend into soups and stews to slightly thicken
  • Add to smoothies
  • Make hemp seed milk
  • Use hemp seed in your crumble topping
  • Add to hummus, dips, or dressings by blending the hemp seeds into it
  • Sprinkle on top of porridge, oatmeals, or other cereals
  • Add into baked goods and desserts for added protein

3. Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are an ancient seed used for centuries for their amazing properties to absorb water and turn into a gel-like substance because of the soluble fiber content contained in the seeds. Due to this unique characteristic, chia seeds are great to add to meals and foods to thicken naturally, while also boosting the fibre, protein, and healthy fats. mainly omega-3’s

Nutrition

2 tablespoons = 4 gms protein

Uses

  • Sprinkle on top of porridges, oatmeal, and cold cereals for a crunch
  • Soak for at least 30 minutes in almond milk for a basic chia seed pudding.
  • Soak in water for a Chia Fresca/Bubble Water for a refreshing and hydrating beverage.

4. Quinoa

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Quinoa is a gluten free grain, technically a seed, but used as a carbohydrate. It’s considered a starchy protein because it contains carbohydrates as well as protein and fibre.

Nutrition

1/2 cup cooked quinoa = 7-9 gms protein

Uses

  • Cook and top on raw or cooked greens
  • Use as a a hot or cold cereal by adding homemade nut milk and fresh fruit
  • Use a bed of quinoa instead of a bed of rice for stir-fry dishes or a side dish
  • Quinoa can also be used as a pilaf.

5. Spirulina

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Spirulina is incredibly protein rich, it’s one of the few sources of plant-based proteins that are mostly protein by dry weight, about 70%. It’s deep blue-green in color and changes everything you mix with it that color green. It tastes subtly sweet and nutty (hints of vanilla and chocolate), but with a background seaweed flavour.

Nutrition

2 tablespoons spirulina = 8 gms protein

Uses

  • Blend into smoothies
  • Use in snack or dessert recipes

6. Nutritional Yeast

 

Nutritional yeast is a staple food item in plant-based diets due to it’s cheesy flavor, versatility, high amounts of B vitamins, and protein. Nutritional yeast contains no dairy or active yeast, it’s found in a powder/flake form and creates a paste when mixed with liquid- i.e. it’s great for making sauces, dressings, and more with.

Nutrition

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast = about 12 gms protein

Uses

  • Add flaked nutritional yeast to almond milk, or water to create a cheesy dressing or sauce
  • Sprinkle on top of salads, quinoa, lentils, beans, and more for a cheesy flavor
  • Incorporate into Middle Eastern dips such as hummus or baba ghanoush,

7. Seeds

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Seeds such as sunflower, sesame, chia, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds are all not only mineral rich but also protein rich. Seeds vary from type, some are more nutty in flavor whereas others are more sweet and neutral tasting. Pumpkin seeds has an earthy flavor, sesame seeds are very nutty tasting, sunflower are slightly sweet and nutty, and flax and chia seeds taste mildly nutty.

Nutrition

1/4 cup seeds = around 7-9 gms protein

Uses

  • Sprinkle seeds on top of salads or any meal to increase the healthy fat and protein
  • Use in granola, Honestly Healthy’s muesli, or other baked goods
  • Grind and use as a “flour” in gluten free baking
  • Grind or pulse coarsely and use in desserts
  • Use in desserts, snacks, truffles, and raw bars for a nutrient dense boost
  • Make your own seed butters by blending
  • Sprinkle on top of oatmeal, porridges, or cold cereals for crunch and protein

8. Nuts

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Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and more are not only rich in minerals, Vitamin E, and healthy fats, but also protein rich. Nuts vary from type, some are more nutty in flavor whereas others are more sweet and neutral tasting. Cashews are one of my favorite nuts as they’re incredibly versatile to use in sweet and savory dishes; brazil nuts are my close second favorite because they’re rich in selenium- just eating 1 a day makes up 100% of your DV for selenium.

Nutrition

1/4 cup nuts = around 7-9 gms protein

Uses

  • Sprinkle nuts on top of salads or any meal to increase the healthy fat and protein
  • Use in granola, muesli, or other baked goods
  • Grind and use as a “flour” in gluten free baking
  • Grind or pulse coarsely and use in desserts such as crumble.
  • Use in desserts, snacks, truffles, and raw protein balls for a nutrient dense boost
  • Make your own nut butters by blending
  • Sprinkle on top of oatmeal, porridges, or cold cereals for crunch and protein

9. Beans

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Beans are an amazing source of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber; according to the Nutrition Stripped food pyramid, beans are considered to be a starchy protein similarly to be used like lentils.

Nutrition

1 cup cooked beans = around 15 gms protein

Uses

  • Cooked with your favorite spices and seasonings and eaten plain
  • Top on salads or Nourish Bowls, One Bowl Skillet Meals
  • Combine with rice or quinoa for a hearty meal
  • Use to make vegetarian meatballs, loafs, or burgers
  • Use as a taco filling or meat sauce for spaghetti

10. Tempeh/Organic Tofu/Edamane

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Soy containing foods such as tempeh, tofu, and edamame all offer a complete protein, containing all amino acids. Often these sources also carry fiber and healthy fats as well as the protein. Tempeh is the most nutritious out of this bunch, and an exception to soy foods as it contains natural occurring healthy bacteria from the fermentation process.

Nutrition

1 serving of tempeh/tofu/edamame = around 20 gms protein

Uses

  • Use as you would beans or lentils. Tofu and tempeh both can be marinated
  • Use tempeh and tofu as toppings to salads
  • Add to stir-fry meals
  • Add to sauces such as creating a “meat” spaghetti sauce
  • Use as filling for tacos, burgers, or even shaped into “hot dogs”
  • Shopping tip: always purchase organic and sprouted tofu if available, non-GMO if available