By Florencia Tagliavini, The NutraMilk Nutritionist.
We can get plenty of protein from plant-based sources without the need for supplements and protein powders, contrary to what most may believe. Some people such as vegans may have to pay a little extra attention in order to get the recommended amount in their diet but as long as their calorie intake is adequate it should be quite easy. Strict protein combining is not necessary as we once thought; however, it´s important to eat a varied diet throughout the day to get all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) we need.
For more information regarding plant-based protein, check out the following article. How to get enough protein when eating a plant-based diet.
There are many options to choose from such as lentils, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas and more which make it easy to incorporate in a diet. You can enjoy them as a side dish or a main dish, as an ingredient in a salad, in a veggie grain bowl, in a taco or on top of quesadillas, you can make vegetarian burgers with pulses or a dip such as hummus.
Pulses are particularly rich in important minerals such as potassium, magnesium, folate, and iron and they offer a good amount of protein. Chickpeas contain 11g per cup, black beans 15g per cup and lentils 18g per cup.
Nuts pack a powerful punch, with significant levels of vitamins such as vitamin E and B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and manganese. Not only that, but they are a great source of heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein, fiber, and antioxidants which protect us from disease. With the NutraMilk it´s easy to make fresh healthy nut butters, nut milks, smoothies and more. You can use nut milks to cook, to pour over cereal, to make smoothies or on their own. Nut butters are great to use as a spread, in smoothies or smoothie bowls as well as for cooking. It´s easy to add protein to your diet using the NutraMilk: for example, an 8 oz. glass of almond milk made with the NutraMilk contains 11 g of protein, 2 tbsp. of peanut butter contains 8g, 2 tbsp. of almond butter contains 7 g.
Check out the NutraMilk´s recipepage for ideas.
They may be small but offer big benefits. Like nuts and pulses, they are also a great source of fiber which aids digestion and keeps you full till your next meal. They supply various vital minerals, healthy unsaturated fats, and phytonutrients as well as other health benefiting compounds. Now that you can make your own seed milks and butters with the NutraMilk, it´s easy to include them in your diet as a protein source. One 8 oz glass of pumpkin seed milk contains 7 g of protein, 2 tbsp. of hemp butter offers 10g of protein while 2 tbsp. of sunflower butter provides 7g.
Like animal sources of protein, soy offers a complete protein, meaning it contains the nine essential amino acids your body needs. Soy products include tofu, tempeh, soy nuts, edamame, and soy milk. A 3 oz. portion of tofu and ½ cup of shelled edamame protein contain about 9 g of protein.
Grains might no be one of the highest foods in protein but they do contribute a significant amount, especially because most of us consume grains in every meal so it adds up, especially when paired with other protein sources. Quinoa is the most protein-rich grain and it contains all essential amino acids but other whole grains contribute to your protein intake as well. Cooked quinoa contains 8g of protein in 1 cup while millet and wild rice contain 7 g. Grains are super versatile and can be used for any meal time such as a hot cereal for breakfast, mixed into salads or veggie bowls for lunch, in a pilaf of casserole with pulses or veggies for dinner and made into a cold sweet pudding for dessert.
- National nutrient database for standard reference, Release 28. Nuts, raw almonds. Revised May, 2016. Software v.18.104.22.168 2017-10-02.
- The Vegetarian Resource Group. https://www.vrg.org.
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org.