Protein is an important macronutrient. It is often referred to as the building blocks of muscle within our bodies.
Meat, eggs, and dairy are extremely protein dense. However, there are many other foods that contain protein that are not animal products.
Benefits of plant-based protein include higher fiber and nutrient content with less cholesterol and fat.
1. Protein-rich vegetables
Vegetables contain a cornucopia of essential macro and micronutrients.
Edamame and black beans contain a considerable amount of protein per serving as do fava and lima beans.
Other often overlooked sources of protein include broccoli, avocado, and cauliflower.
Vegetable stir-fry is an easy-to-make dish that can be ready to eat in minutes.
Steaming the vegetables and cooking them in a light teriyaki or sweet sauce is a great way to add flavor to your meal.
2. Try meat substitutes
Meat substitutes usually contain a number of vegetables, including soy, to keep protein content high.
MorningStar, Amy’s, Boca, and Gardein are well known brands that produce delicious meat alternatives, such as veggie sausages, burgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and more.
These items have similar tastes and textures to the meat products they imitate making them ideal for entrées.
Meat substitutes can be heated on the stove top or in the microwave for convenience.
3. Get creative with tofu
Tofu is a product of soybeans and is naturally bland tasting.
This lack of flavor is precisely what makes tofu ideal for delectable dishes that can be seasoned to your liking.
Tofu is commonly used as a meat substitute in burritos and vegetable dishes, as it is easily made savory and crisp.
An unconventional way to use tofu is to blend it with cocoa to create a sweet chocolate mousse with a satisfying texture.
4. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great addition to any salad or smoothie. Hemp, chia, and flax seeds are good sources of protein.
Pecans, walnuts, and almonds also pair nicely with leafy greens.
Nut butters are a popular source of protein and are commonly eaten with fruits. The sweetness of the fruit compliments the savory taste of the nuts.
Be sure to check the serving sizes and ingredients of nut butters as they tend to contain a lot of calories per pound and can contain processed oils.
The less ingredients, the better. You can make your own almond butter at home by roasting almonds and then blending them in a food processor.
Wild rice, amaranth, and oats have a substantial amount of protein per serving, and they’re gluten-free.
Other types of protein rich grains include quinoa, whole wheat, and teff.
Grains in their most naturally occurring and least-processed form are ideal for adding a good source of carbohydrates to your meal.
Using whole grain or spelt flours for baking is a good way to incorporate nutrients such as iron and zinc into your desserts.
Instead of focusing on protein alone, aim for a balanced diet that also includes carbohydrates and fats as well.
Whole food sources of macro and micronutrients will help you to feel nourished and satiated.