If you’re thinking that you want to try out a plant-based lifestyle, go vegan or experiment with vegetarian cooking, it’s important to be aware of your nutritional intake and ensuring you meet all your daily requirements.
Certain nutrients are less easily absorbed or less readily available when you are following a plant-based diet and as a result, you need to increase their presence in your diet.
One of these of course is protein. While the common myth of vegans and vegetarians not being able to get enough protein without meat is inaccurate, it is important for you to be conscious of consuming protein rich foods. And no, that doesn’t have to be fake meats!
Instead, check out these 5 healthier plant-based protein sources to make sure you get your daily intake and keep your diet clean and healthy.
- Tempeh – Other than the protein content, tempeh is great because it is fermented. Made from fermented soy, foods that have gone through the fermentation process have healthy levels of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria and help the body produce B vitamins. They also improve digestion, decrease the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria and help produce vitamin K, essential for healthy skin, hair and nails. Enjoy your tempeh baked in the oven until crispy, or marinated in a spicy sauce and tossed through some stir fried vegetables. It also is great cooked on the grill with perfect little charcoal marks!
- Teff – This tiny little grain often comes pre-ground into flour and is the main ingredient in the Ethiopian flatbread, known as Injera. The Ethiopians do it best, leaving the teff flour to ferment before creating the bread so they benefit both from the fermentation and the protein. But even if you don’t choose to ferment the grain first, the protein benefits still exist. Use this in the form of flour in quickbreads (it’s great with coffee and chocolate flavours), or muffins, or keep it as a whole grain and turn it into hot cereal like you would oatmeal. Teff flour also pops when heated, so throw some into a hot skillet and enjoy mini popped grains, which are great for garnishing or eating straight out of the pan!
- Nuts/seeds – You are likely already aware of the fact that nuts and seeds have protein, but what you may not have known is that these little gems are the perfect nutrient power house when it comes to fuelling yourself on a plant-based diet. That’s because they contain a combination of protein, healthy fat and carbohydrates, the essential nutrients to help fill you up and leave you full, preventing you from over eating or snacking on unhealthy alternatives. Enjoy your nuts and seeds by the handful, tossed on to salads or with some fruit, or better yet, turn them into nut butter!
- Mesquite – You may have never heard of this powerful little superfood, but it is a great addition to your diet and one that you can focus on consuming regularly to boost your protein intake. Seen most commonly in a powder form, this super food yields a slightly smoky caramel flavor to your foods and does well added to smoothies and baked goods. Since it is easy to purchase as a powder, you can even add it into your smoothie in small amounts so that it doesn’t affect the flaveur but still gives you the nutrient boost. Furthermore, the powder means part of the breakdown is already done when you consume it, so it is easier for your body to absorb the nutrients and less is lost in processing.