5 PLANT-BASED PROTEINS
Protein is very important for building & maintaining body tissue and for keeping good health.
However, when we say the word “protein” we often only think of protein rich foods such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, but protein can be found in lots of plant-based foods too!
What is plant-based?
What is a plant-based food? A plant-based food is a food that does not come from an animal (meat, eggs, milk, etc.), instead it comes from fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Over the past few years, as I’ve focused on learning more about health and nutrition, I have learned that there are lots of healthy plant-based sources of protein that can be eaten AND now I actually enjoy eating plant-based proteins more than animal proteins.
Here are my top 5 plant-based proteins
Nuts are a great source of plant-based protein. Almonds are one of the most common and popular nuts worldwide. They have a subtle yet delicious flavour, a good crunch and they are very versatile. I love to eat almonds raw as a snack and sprinkle them on top of soups and salads. I use them a lot in baking and cooking & are really easy to make into almond butter, almond flour or almond milk. 100 grams almonds contain 21g protein. Almonds are very high in fibre, the B vitamins and vitamin E as well as healthy fats. Walnuts are another great nut – there are 15g protein in 100g walnuts. Walnuts are very high in antioxidants, vitamin E and are one of the best sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Walnuts are very good for maintaining brain health because of all of the essential fatty acids that they contain. I love adding walnuts to salads, vegetable dishes, healthy desserts, granola, trail mix, blending them into smoothies or eating them raw as a snack. Although almonds and walnuts are my favourite nuts, other nuts such as macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts, pine nuts and pistachios should not be forgotten. All nuts are high in protein and are best eaten raw.
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that has become more popular recently due to its high protein content and high fibre content. Although it is used as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. Unlike most other seeds, quinoa has a high protein as well as a high carbohydrate content. 100g uncooked quinoa has 14g protein and 1/2 cup cooked quinoa contains 7.9g of protein. I love to add cooked quinoa to salad and vegetable dishes or use it as an alternative to rice. Check out my quinoa recipes!
3. Chia seeds
Chia seeds may be teeny tiny but they are packed full of nutrients! These little seeds are high in protein, high in fibre and they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds contains about 2g protein. I love blending chia seeds into my breakfast smoothies and using them to make chia pudding! Because these seeds are so tiny, it’s best to grind them finely before adding them to smoothies or other recipes so that the body can absorb the nutrients and get the best benefit from them, or soaking them before eating them (eg: chia pudding).
4. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein as well as omega 3 fatty acids. I love sprinkling hemp seeds on top of salads, soups and smoothies. 1 Tablespoon of hemp seeds contains about 3g protein. Hemp seeds help to reduce inflammation and they are a fantastic source of essential minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc and phosphorus.
1 tablespoon of spirulina contains about 4g protein. Spirulina is a natural algae and a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids. Dried spirulina is more than 60% pure protein, it has anti-inflammatory properties and is great for detoxing the body. It contains a high amount of omega-3 as well as omega-6 and omega-9. I like to add spirulina to smoothies, but if you don’t like the taste, you can take spirulina supplements. Make sure that the spirulina you purchase is pure, meaning that it contains no other ingredients or unnecessary additives. Try adding a teaspoon of spirulina to my green smoothie recipe!
These 5 plant-based sources of protein are all so good for us, and can easily be incorporated into a diet. I love eating nuts and seeds with my breakfast porridge in the morning, and I love having quinoa with lunch or dinner.
Liezl Jayne xo
Photographs by Ross Charnock – for liezljayne.com