Living ‘the balanced life is all about incorporating variety into your daily munchings, all while still ensuring you’re hitting your body’s macronutrient requirements. One of these macronutrients is of course protein – one of the most talked-about (and therefore misunderstood) compounds your body needs
Protein is made up of amino acids, which can be found in a couple of different forms. Animal proteins such as lamb, beef, chicken, eggs and cheese all great sources of protein as the amino acids they contain are identical or very similar to those required in the human body. But that doesn’t mean they’re our only saviour!
Plant-based proteins are an excellent alternative to their animal-based counterparts. Not only are they cheaper and more environmentally sustainable, but they’re also much cleaner, have a multitude of other health benefits for the body and put less stress on your organs. When consumed in excess animal proteins, such as red meat, can increase your LDL cholesterol which contributes to your risk of heart disease and stroke. While this isn’t a problem if you regulate your intake, it does mean that even the biggest steak fans need to find protein from plant-based sources!
So… whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian or simply looking to balance out your diet, what are the best (and most readily available) sources of plant protein?
Best Sources Of Plant Protein Eaten RAW
Is there no end to the awesomeness of the almond? A standard serve (about 24 almonds, or ¼ cup) contains a whopping 6 grams of protein. Serve with a small piece of fruit for afternoon tea and you’ve got yourself a perfectly portioned and protein fuelled snack!
Full of healthy fats, fibre and protein, the humble sunflower seed is your perfect plant-powered dietary solution. One (hulled) small handful has around 5 grams of protein – not to mention 14g of good fats and 3g of fibre! Pop on top of a buddha bowl as your source of healthy fats and enjoy.
These guys contain highly concentrated amounts of nutrients – in fact, one serve (28g or around 1 tablespoon) has almost 5g of protein, 12g of carbohydrates, 9g of healthy fats including omega-3’s, as well as essential vitamins and antioxidants. Sprinkle on top or blend in your favourite smoothie, or try in our Overnight Oats recipe below.
Hulled Hemp Seeds
A celebrity of the plant-powered world, hemp seeds are one of the most digestible and nutritionally rich sources of edible plants. Just one serving (3 tablespoons or 30g) has 11g of protein, over 8g of omega-3’s and 2g of fibre. Oh, and did we mention they contain all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete source of protein?!
Eat just half a cup of rolled oats in the morning and you’re on your way to one awesome day! Favoured for their antioxidant properties and healthy heart benefits, one serve of this brekky staple contains 4.5g of protein – making it the perfect way to start your day #plantstyle. Not to mention, it’s also low calorie, high in fibre and Low GI carbohydrate.
COOK Up These Awesome Plant Proteins
What better reason to cook yourself a killer burrito bowl than to get some black beans on your plate! Half a cup of boiled black beans has an enormous 7.5g of protein… not to mention it’s an excellent source of fibre (7.5g per half-cup serve) and is super low in calories.
Swap rice for quinoa, and you’ve got yourself a protein-loaded tummy filler! A complete source of protein (i.e. it contains all 9 essential amino acids) and a low GI carbohydrate, it’s the perfect grain to keep you toned and healthy. A cooked 100g portion contains 4g of protein, 2.8g of fibre and even is a good source of healthy fats! Whip up some Mushroom & Spinach Quinoa or save yourself some time and try our Roast Turkey & Quinoa or Choc Quinoa Porridge!
These may be a vegan staple, but every meat lover should be adding a few of these dietary miracles to their menu too! One serve (½ cup cooked) contains only 140 calories but stocks an enormous 12g of protein but less than 1g of fat. Boil and pop into your bolognese mix, throw some into a delicious curry or add a spoonful to your buddha bowl to start reaping the benefits.
Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are the ultimate source of plant-based protein – half a cup cooked has almost 6g! And to make things even better, they also boast an assortment of other health benefits thanks to their unique mineral composition. Roast and salt to taste for a clean, tasty afternoon snack, or try our Warm Moroccan Chickpea Salad for an easy, healthy meal.
Get Some Plant Protein Into Your Morning!
Everyone knows the importance of eating a healthy breakfast – but sometimes you just need to shake your daily staples up! Try this awesome Vegan Overnight Oats recipe for a plant-based, protein-rich, clean and super delicious start to the morning (oh, and did we mention this recipe is macro balanced and approved by our Accredited Practising Dietitian too?!).
Vegan Mixed Berry Overnight Oats
1/2 cup Rolled Oats
1 tbsp Chia Seeds
150mls Vitasoy “Calci-Plus”
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Medjool Date (finely chopped)
40g Frozen Raspberries & Blueberries
Mix ingredients and soak for at least 6+hrs or overnight.
Top with 1 tbsp almond butter, 5g cacao nibs and 10g white dried mulberries (or more frozen berries!) to serve.