Plant Based Protein Sources
People seem to be obsessed with protein. I’ve come to realize that there are many myths out there about protein!
Our body needs protein. It helps us create enzymes to digest foods and it produces antibodies that fight off infection. But, we don’t need nearly as much protein as many people think we do!
In fact, research shows that getting more than 30 percent of your calories from any protein source can actually be harmful to you.
Dr. Fuhrman suggests that we only really need 25 to 35 grams of protein per day.
And…getting a lot of protein from animal sources is very stressful to your body. It can be very difficult for your organs to process, especially the kidneys. Your body has to work a lot harder to digest animal proteins!
Dr. Campbell’s research in The China Study, and most recently, the documentary Forks Over Knives, has shed a lot of light on the dangers of animal protein, including it’s link to cancer. Casein is the protein that makes up 87% of cow’s milk and was shown to promote all stages of the cancer process.
It is such a misconception that the only sources of quality protein come from animal products. Numerous plants, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes all have considerable amounts of quality proteins. A varied diet that contains many plant sources provides more than enough protein in the healthiest forms.
“So, what are some of the best protein sources in a plant-based diet?”
Sprouted grains such as oats, quinoa, and millet are excellent sources of protein. I cannot say enough about quinoa. It is my favorite grain by far. It is a complete protein grain. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner with a variety of veggies. It can be served hot or cold! I love it in place of rice in simple stir-fry recipes. Just add mixed veggies, tamari or soy sauce and top with sautéed tofu or tempeh.
Vegetables including dark leafy greens, like kale and spinach, mushrooms, broccoli, and yams are good sources of protein. Yes, believe it or not vegetables do have protein!
Legumes like peas, beans and lentils are all high in protein! You can add beans to many dishes or to salads, etc. I like to toss together black-eye beans with brown rice, mushrooms, and kale, add a little tamari or soy sauce and voila…a simple healthy meal!
Make your own bean dips for a quick and healthy snack. Hummus, black bean, and white bean dips are delicious with raw veggies or seed crackers and can be made in minutes in a food processor!
Lentils are a protein powerhouse boasting 18 grams per serving! Mix them with some brown rice and veggies for a deliciously satisfying and healthy meal! I’ve gotten hooked on mushroom and lentil loafs since I made it for Thanksgiving this year. They are even better than meatloaf!
Try these simple hummus wraps!
Nuts and Seeds
Raw nuts and seeds, including hemp, almonds, and pumpkin seeds and nut butters like almond and cashew butter are great protein sources. Nuts and seeds also contain amino acids that help form complete digestible protein. You can add them as a garnish to salads and many other dishes, or just eat them as a snack by themselves.
Try these Protein Packed Gluten-Free Crackers!
Hemp; including seeds, milks, and powders are terrific sources of protein. I love to sprinkle hemp seeds on my salads. They have 9 grams of protein per serving!
If you’re an avid exerciser and want more protein in your diet, try some organic hemp protein powder, which can be mixed your favorite smoothie!
Sources of Soy: Edamame/soybeans, tempeh, and tofu are good protein sources. I personally am not allergic to soy. If you don’t have a soy allergy, foods like tempeh and tofu are excellent protein-rich alternatives to meat.
I believe that Tempeh is the best form of soy protein. It has become my absolute favorite protein source because it tastes great when prepared correctly and it can be added to so many different recipes!. Fermented organic soy products like tempeh and miso are easier for you to digest than many other soy products. It has a whopping 30 grams of protein in one cup! It is best when you steam it lightly before sautéing or baking. It takes out the bitterness and gives it nice texture.Check out this simple tempeh & quinoa recipe!
There has been a lot of controversy over soy! I believe in “moderation.” As with all foods, it’s important to listen to your body and see how you feel when you eat them. I eat it a 2-3 times per week. When eating soy products, I do not recommend eating highly processed or genetically modified faux meats or treats made with soy protein isolates. These are just not that good for you! Plus, make sure you always stick to organic varieties that have no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms)!
Meat Substitutes: I am not a big fan of many of the “faux” meat products on the market. Most of them contain a host of ingredients that are not ideal for your health, including sodium, chemicals and starchy fillers. But, there are some that are healthy and good sources of protein. Look for those that have the fewest ingredients.
Sunshine Burgers- Sunshine Burgers are my favorite! They are made from all natural organic ingredients and contain 8 grams of protein per serving.Click here for a Sunshine Burger recipe
Field Roast Grain Meat - I enjoy the Italian Sausages they make. They really taste like sausage! I slice them up and sauté them in a veggie scramble or sauté them with peppers and onions and eat it on a whole grain bun. Each sausage has a whopping 25 grams of protein! They are made from vital wheat gluten (so these may not be a good choice if you have gluten sensitivity). These, along with many faux meats, contain a lot of sodium, so be mindful of that when buying them and only eat them occasionally when you need a quick and easy meal.
Bread, Pasta, and Flour
It might seem strange to see these items on a list for protein sources. However, there are many products now made with whole grains and beans that are good sources of protein. Beware of “multi-grain” grain products. These are not the same as whole-grain or even sprouted grains.
I prefer Ezekiel pastas, breads and wraps. Yes, they are a little more expensive but I believe it so worth it! Stay away from products made with white flour. Instead look for whole grain or sprouted grain organic varieties. I was shocked to discover that Ezekiel pasta is a complete protein pasta and has 9 grams of protein per serving!
Pastas made with Spelt or Kamut are also healthy options and contain more protein than regular pasta!
Here is a simple & delicious miso soba noodle recipe!
There is even flour now that is made from garbanzo beans which contains 6 grams of protein per serving. This is also better for those who have gluten-sensitivities!
Another tip for adding additional protein to many dishes, including soups, pasta, and dressings, is to use Nutritional Yeast. It has a wonderful nutty flavor and can replace cheese in most recipes. I highly recommend you try this even if you have never seen it or heard of it before, give a shot! It has a full spectrum of amino acids, B vitamins and 9 grams of protein per serving!
So, as you can see there are many excellent ways to get all the protein you need from plant sources, but if you choose to consume meat, please make smart choices. Source makes a huge difference in the quality of protein you get. Large factory farms have eliminated much of the nutritional value in most meats due to high-fat, non-organic grain diets the animals are on, along with the steroids and antibiotics they are given. We are left with meat that is extremely unhealthy.
When selecting animal products, choose organic, hormone and antibiotic-free meat; and fish that is wild-caught (Never farm-raised). If you eat beef, grass-fed is a must. Purchasing from a local farm or source is also optimal. This will be healthier and richer in nutrients.
Ready to begin a healthy, plant-powered life? Start with this 21 Day Lifestyle Plan!
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