9 Ways to Get More Clean Plant-Based Protein

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or just interested in reducing your meat consumption, it’s important to know the best sources of healthy non-animal protein.

The recommended dietary allowance for protein is 46 grams for women and 56 grams for men. The following plant-based foods can help to ensure that you meet or exceed your daily protein needs.

1. Seitan

Seitan (wheat gluten) is made by rinsing away the starch from wheat dough, removing most of the carbohydrate and concentrating the protein. It is a popular meat substitute amongst Buddhist vegetarians in China and Japan. A three ounce portion of seitan contains an amazing 21 grams of protein, almost as much as the same amount of chicken breast. You can use seitan to replace the meat in practically any recipe. It can even be coated with herbs and spices and fried like chicken.

2. Lentils

One cup of lentils contains 18 grams of protein and 90% of your daily requirement of folic acid. These legumes are also high in fiber and rich in iron, phosphorus and manganese. Lentils are widely used in Middle Eastern, India and Mediterranean cooking. They can form the basis of soups, stews and curries. You can even use them to create vegetarian versions of burgers or meatloaf.

3. Spirulina

Spirulina is a one-celled microscopic blue-green algae. One ounce of dried spirulina contains 16 grams of protein complete with all essential amino acids. The algae are also rich in iron, calcium and folic acid and are an excellent source of the anti-oxidant beta-carotene. Add spirulina powder to fruit smoothies, hummus, pesto or guacamole. You can also sprinkle it over rice or pasta dishes to boost their protein content.

4. Tempeh

Tempeh is made from whole soybeans fermented for 24 hours in a fungal culture containing beneficial bacteria. A three ounce serving contains 15 grams of complete protein. Tempeh has a firm texture which makes it suited to a variety of cooking methods. Cut it into small pieces and marinade it for at least 20 minutes to infuse it with flavor, then bake it, fry it or thread it onto skewers and grill it.

5. Chickpeas

A cup of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) contains 12 grams of protein. They are also a good source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. Chickpeas form the basis of Middle Eastern dishes such as houmous and falafel and Indian curries such as channa dal. Pureed chickpeas make a great base for creamy soups. Dried chickpeas can be sprouted and added to salads. Vegetable fritters can be coated in a batter made from chickpea (garam) flour.

6. Sundried tomatoes

Sun-dried tomatoes contains 8 grams of protein per cup, more than any other type of fruit. They are also high in fiber and rich in iron, potassium and vitamin K. You can eat sun-dried tomatoes straight from the jar as a salty snack or use them as a topping for bruschetta. They can be served in salads or used to add flavor to a variety of pasta dishes. They can also be baked into breads or savory muffins.

7. Quinoa

A cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams of protein with all 9 essential amino acids. This gluten-free grain-like seed is high in fiber and a good source of iron and potassium. Quinoa can be prepared in the same way you would cook rice and makes a good higher protein substitute for rice in savory dishes. It can also be served for breakfast with milk (soy or almond milk for vegans), honey and fruit.

8. Natural peanut butter

A two tablespoon serving of peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein, twice the amount found in more expensive almond butter. It is a good source of vitamin E, magnesium and potassium and contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. To get more protein in your diet, add peanut butter to smoothies or spread it on apples or celery. Use it in baking or to add a creamy texture to vegetarian curries.

9. Buckwheat

Buckwheat is not a type of wheat, but a plant related to rhubarb with grain-like seeds. One cup of cooked buckwheat groats contains 6 grams of complete protein. Buckwheat flour can be used to make gluten-free pancakes and crepes. Japanese soba noodles made from buckwheat can be served hot in a soup or chilled in an Asian salad. Buckwheat groats can be made into a hearty porridge.

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uditpatel • 2019 Sep 10

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