Protein is important to our health, our workouts and recovery, and our brain function; without it, we wouldn’t function at our best and our bodies wouldn’t be able to support us long-term. However, the problem with the view of protein in our country is where we’re getting the majority of our protein from: animals. Regardless of different opinions out there about including meat as a part of our regular diets, we can’t ignore the fact that meat consumption is causing our major environmental, health, and humanitarian problems. When you put all the pieces together, it is time we start looking for a real sustainable alternative. Say hello to plants !
Lentils are a protein favorite of many, especially those on vegetarian and vegan diets looking to pump up the protein fast. Lentils add 9 grams of protein to your meal per half cup, along with nearly 15 grams of fiber! See our lentil recipes here for tasty ways to use these little meaty legumes!
What used to be seen as a boring vegan protein source has now been transformed into everything from breakfast to entrees, and yes, even desserts too. This protein source’s main attractive nature is that it can be flavored however you want and adds a rich, creamy texture or chewy texture to your food depending on if you buy firm or soft tofu. See our tasty tofu recipes to add a whopping 10 grams of protein (check labels) per cup of chopped tofu.
3. Black Beans
Black beans are one of the richest sources of antioxidants and one of the healthiest beans of all beans and legumes. Their dark color indicates their strong antioxidant content and they also have less starch than some other beans. One favorite way to enjoy them is to make black bean burritos, but that’s not the only way to use them. Try these delicious black bean recipes to add 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup of these beans to your plate.
With 8 grams per cup, this gluten-free seed-like grain is a fantastic source of protein, magnesium, antioxidants, and fiber. You can cook it, bake it, and even stir into stir-fry dishes and more. Check out our quinoa recipes here for all types of ways to use this healthy pseudo-grain!
Amaranth is similar to quinoa and teff in its nutritional content, though much tinier in size. This ancient pseudo-grain (also a seed) adds 7 grams of protein to your meals in just one cup of cooked amaranth. It’s also a fantastic source of iron, B vitamins, and magnesium. Try it in these yummy burgers that pair amaranth with lentil and all types of different spices.
6. Soy Milk
Love soy or hate soy, it’s actually the controversial little legume, isn’t it? Soy milk, if bought organic, can be a part of a healthy diet. There is conflicting research regarding its effects on cancer, but many studies show it can help actually prevent cancer rather than causes it (unlike meat). The key is to buy non-GMO soy and not to buy it in the form of highly processed soy protein isolates. Try soy milk, which packs 8 grams of protein in just one cup, offers 4 grams of heart-healthy fats, and is rich in phytosterols that assist with good heart health. Buy organic, unsweetened as the healthiest option.
7. Green Peas
Packed with protein and fiber, peas are so yummy! They contain 8 grams of protein per cup, so add a little of these sweet treats throughout the day. Bonus … peas are also rich in leucine, an amino acid crucial to metabolism and weight loss that’s hard to find in most plant-based foods.
Containing 4 grams of protein in just 1/2 cup, artichoke hearts are a great way to boost fiber, protein, and they are filling but low in calories.
9. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are a complete protein that are hard NOT to love. Packing 13 grams in just 3 tablespoons, these tiny seeds are easy to add anywhere.
Oatmeal has three times the protein of brown rice with less starch and more fiber. It’s also a great source of magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins.
11. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the most overlooked sources of iron and protein out there, containing 8 gram of protein per 1/4 cup. They’re also an excellent source of magnesium as well, not to mention pretty tasty and oh so crunchy! See more benefits of these seeds here and some ways you can use them more often.
12. Chia Seeds
Chia, chia, chia … what can’t this super seed do? Chia has 5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons and is also a complete protein source.
Filled with 5 grams of protein per cup, spinach is a great leafy green to enjoy as much as you can. We don’t have to tell you how to use it though … we’re sure you’re already loving this green plenty.
14. Black Eyed Peas
Black eyed peas might seem boring, but they pack 8 grams of protein in just 1/2 cup. Like most other beans, they’re also a great source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins. You can use them in soup or anywhere else you’d normally use beans. Their mild and nutty flavor makes a great hearty dinner!
This lovely veggie contains 4 grams of protein in just 1 cup, which isn’t too bad considering that same cup also contains 30 percent of your daily calcium needs, along with vitamin C, fiber, and B vitamins for only 30 calories.
Filled with 4 grams per cup (about 4-6 stalks, chopped), asparagus is also a great source of B vitamins and folate.
17. Green Beans
Green beans pack 4 grams of protein in just 1/2 cup, along with vitamin B6, and they’re low in carbs but high in fiber. >