Having adequate amount of protein in your diet is crucial, more important so for physically active people. The human body needs protein and amino acids for growth and repairing, especially after strenuous exercise. The opinion that it is hard to fulfill one’s protein requirements while following a plant-based diet is still widespread. However, the list below begs to differ.
1. Tempeh: 19g / 100g Tempeh are cooked soybeans infused with a mushroom culture. The beans are fermented, resulting in a tight white cake. Tempeh has lots of umami and the flavor is reminiscent of some types of cheese due to similarities in the process. This high-protein food is very versatile. I fry it in a pan until crunchy or use it for “meatballs” in pasta sauce. You can also make some facon and put it on a sandwich.
2. Lentils: 24g / 100g There are lots of different types of lentils, the classics being green and red. They contain lots of heart healthy fiber, minerals (among them phosphorus, iron, copper) and B-vitamins. Traditionally eaten in soups or stews this legume can also be used in recipes that usually call for minced meat as they provide a nice texture. Combine with brown rice or quinoa for complete protein. Lentils can also be sprouted and eaten raw in a salad or as a side.
3. Quinoa: 15g / 100g A grain-like seed from South America with a high protein content. It contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones the body can not produce itself) and is therefore a complete protein. The fluffy texture and nutty flavor make it a great addition to any meal, especially since it cooks in 12-15 minutes. Put it in a rice cooker, throw some onions and beans in a pan and 20 minutes later you have a complete meal. Or make your own quinoa chocolate protein bars, which is what I’m going to do next.
4. Beans: 20-30g / 100g Beans are another versatile protein source. They can be bought dry and cooked at home or canned for convenience. My personal favorites are kidney beans, I pretty much eat a can every morning (20g of protein to start the day, woohoo!). Fry them in a pan with some onion and garlic, spice ‘em up with some herbs (thyme, oregano, chili) and eat them with a salad. As easy as cracking an egg.
5. Sprouted mung beans: 20g / 100g I owe the idea of sprouted mung beans to Rich Roll on Tim Ferris’ blog, where they are listed as a superfood. They are easily made (cover in water over night, rinse, cover again, easy peasy), fresh tasting, crunchy and chock full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. The sprouting process also puts them in a pre-digested state making them easy for the body to assimilate. Eat over brown rice or quinoa with minimal seasoning.
6. Chickpeas: 20g / 100g Also known as garbanzo beans, these are used to make some of my favorite foods. The first is falafel, which can be a complete meal with a side of salad. Blend the suckers, mix them with oil, salt, pepper and tahini and you got yourself some hummus (great on veggie sticks or even with falafel if you swing that way). My newest discovery is socca, which is made from chickpea flower. Yum!
7. Hemp seeds: 30g / 100g Another recent discovery. Apart from their very high protein content the seeds also boast a nice fat profile. Lots of Omega-3s and Omega-6s. One tablespoon of hemp oil provides the daily requirements of essential fatty acids. They are also crunchy and delicious as hell and a great addition to salads and homemade protein bars.
Where do you get your plant-based protein from? Did I forget anything? Tell me in the comments.