If you are a recent veganista, or already a regular member of this increasingly popular lifestyle then protein will play a starring role in your healthy and balanced diet. The elimination of meat from your diet doesn’t mean you aren’t able to reap the rewards of protein from a variety of plant sources. We need essential proteins and amino acids, the building blocks of all living organisms to help maintain cells, growth and overall body development. So check out our list of delightful delicious vegan sources of protein if you want to keep feeling and looking good!
Tofu is described as one of the world’s healthiest foods and rightly so with a whopping 7-10 grams of protein per 1/2 cup – the same amount as a piece of lean meat, fish or poultry! Fantastic! It’s also packed with calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B1 and omega-3 fats and is great for cardiovascular health. Tofu is easy to make and can be added to stir fries with leafy spinach and broccoli for a meal packed with great fiber and protein.
Beans and legumes
Add some color and taste to your plate with some of the richest plant sources of protein! Dry roasted soybeans, peanuts, falafel, lentils and chickpeas can be easily added to salads and are all bursting with delightful flavors. Legumes are rich in essential amino acids and include their secret weapon, acid lysine for improved bone health – Great for cranky knees after the gym.
Perfect for those with hectic schedules in need of protein nibbles on the go, nuts can help to reduce coronary heart disease and to lose weight. Almonds are the star of the show with up to 15g of protein per 1/2 cup, and are packed with vitamin E and potassium. It’s delicate flavor also makes it a great addition to sweet and savory dishes. Mix it up with some cashews, pecans, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and you’re good to go. Looking for an alternative? Treat yourself to some almond nut butter on some wholemeal bread for a heavenly soft and smooth texture.
Get fruity with avocados
This creamy treasure has the highest protein content of any fruit and includes all 18 essential amino acids necessary for the body. It’s filled with healthy fats, omega 3, potassium, vitamin A, E, K, C, and b6, helps to reduce aging and improve regulation of the blood. Avocados also help increase your absorption of nutrients by 400%! Great! So starting making some avocado shakes, guacamole and add a few slices to your salads.
Carbohydrates are an essential part of our everyday diet and are a necessary source of energy for our bodies, but unfortunately there are others which aren’t quite so kind to the body! Why not squeeze some extra vegetables into your daily meals by using some tasty veggie substitutes for carbs such as white rice and processed bread.
Whether you’re making a smoky three bean chili con carne, spicy eggplant and green lentil curry (see the recipe below!), or delicious mixed tabbouleh, ditch the starchy white rice for a healthy low-carb alternative! Low in fat and carbs, cauliflower is packed full of dietary fiber and vitamin C, making it one of the most versatile veggies around.
Simply pulse cauliflower florets in a food processor (or grate them) until they’ve been blitzed into light and fluffy grains. You can keep a slight crunchiness to it by leaving it raw, or soften it slightly by cooking it lightly on the stove in a little oil and added herbs.
Pasta is one of the greatest foods ever made; simple, economical and delicious. Using just a few well-paired ingredients like tomato, basil and garlic you can cook up some of the best tasting food you’ll ever find. However, if you are looking to avoid pasta or are intolerant to gluten, then zucchini is the veggie for you!
All you need to do is use a spiralizer lengthways to create thin ribbons until they appear like spaghetti. Throw into a pan with a little oil for around 5 minutes, season and serve!
BUTTERNUT SQUASH FRIES
French fries – perhaps the potato’s most loved creation. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter whether they’re skinny and salted or cut into great thick wedges and dusted with paprika, French fries are very high in carbohydrates and often in fat too. The solution? Delicious homemade savory-sweet butternut squash fries.
Squeeze in another portion of vegetables into the day with this low-starch alternative (just 16g per cup). Slice the squash however thick or thin you like and dust down with seasoning such as rosemary and paprika. Give the slices a light spray of olive oil and bake in the oven for 25 minutes or longer, depending on how chunky your fries are!
NO CARB WRAPS
When you have work or school commitments to stick to, eating something for lunch which is both healthy and convenient enough to fit into your hectic schedule can be a challenge. Luckily, sandwiches and wraps have generally solved this problem, allowing for a quick, delicious and nutritious (sometimes!) bite. If you’re cutting out starch in your diet then carb-less wraps are just what you need, allowing you to abandon the bread but still enjoy all your favorite fillings each and every day!
Grab a large leafy green such as cabbage, unsliced collard greens or a good sized lettuce and use the layers to wrap up your fillings inside. Not only do the greens add a tasty crunchy texture that bread can’t match, but it’s also another sneaky way to consume another portion of veg for the day! Why not try smashed avocado and chickpeas with carrot and cilantro, or even a black bean, tomato and walnut filling for extra protein punch. Our tip – if you’re struggling to keep shape of the wrap just pierce either end with a small wooden toothpick, it will hold till lunch no problem!
If you want some more tasty ideas why not check out our lovely lunches recipe section!