Soy products such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame are considered the richest sources of protein. Tofu, for instance, has about 15 grams of protein per 4 oz serving (cooked). While tofu doesn’t have any taste, it takes on the flavor of the dish it’s prepared, making it a versatile addition to your diet. You can even try tofu as a meat substitute in a soup or a sandwich.
Edamame beans are immature soybeans and contain 8.5 grams of protein per half-cup cup while tempeh contains about 15 grams of protein per half a cup. Tempeh has a nutty flavor and can be used in soups, chilies, and burgers. As for edamame, it can be used in a variety of ways ranging from salads to appetizers.
All of these soy products also contain healthy levels of calcium and iron and can hence be used as substitutes for dairy products.
2. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are obtained from the Salvia hispanica plant and contain about 3.5 grams of protein per two tablespoons. These wonderful seeds are low-calorie foods rich in fiber and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Furthermore, they also contain iron, calcium, selenium, and magnesium.
If soaked overnight, chia seeds turn into a gel-like substance as they absorb water. So, while they have a bland taste, they can be added to a smoothie or on baked goods to make for a healthy recipe.
Lentils aren’t just a good source of protein, they have great fiber content, too. This legume provides 9 grams of protein per half-cup and also offers 7.9 grams of dietary fiber in the same amount. Lentils are also rich in folate, manganese, and iron.
One of the best things about lentils is that they can be added to salads, soups, curries, and stews to enhance their flavor. These nutritional powerhouses are the perfect plant-based source of protein to add to your daily meals.
Cooked chickpeas are an excellent addition to any plant-based diet as they contain around 7.25 grams of protein per half-cup. Also known as garbanzo beans, these legumes can be eaten hot or cold and can be easily added to soups, stews, and curries. You can even roast them in the oven and sprinkle some spices on top to prepare a nice healthy evening roasted chickpeas snack.
5. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are a complete protein and offer 5 grams of protein per tablespoon. They also contain generous amounts of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium. Moreover, hemp seeds are a solid source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Much like chia seeds, hemp seeds can be added to your diet by sprinkling them on a smoothie or morning muesli. They will also be great dressings for homemade salads.
6. Green Peas
Green peas are one of the best plant-based sources of protein and they also contain many crucial vitamins and minerals. These healthy little peas have 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (about 240 ml). The best part about them is that one serving of green peas will essentially cover almost 25% of your daily vitamin A, C, K, manganese, folate, and daily fiber needs. They are also a great source of several B vitamins.
Green peas can be added to your daily diet as a side dish, or in the form of pea soup. You can even add them to mashed potatoes to enhance the taste while also making them healthier.
Similar to hemp seeds, quinoa is considered a complete protein. This high-protein grain contains 8 grams of protein per cup when cooked. It is also rich in nutrients like magnesium, iron, fiber, and manganese. Quinoa is highly versatile and a really great plant-based protein option. You can have it as a meal by combining it with various vegetables or simply cook it in vegetable broth. Add quinoa to soups or salads to have a delicious and protein-rich meal.
8. Soy Milk
As we mentioned earlier, soy products are rich in protein. If you want to find a good alternative to cow's milk for your diet, you can easily choose soy milk as it has as much protein as cow’s milk and is lower in calories than whole milk. It contains very little saturated fat and is also a terrific source of potassium, calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
A 240 ml cup of soy milk contains 7 grams of protein which can help support healthy muscles and organs. Soy milk can easily be found in most supermarkets. You can consume it every day as a glass of milk or even use it in some baking recipes like soy milk cake, vegan apple cake, or vegan corn muffins.
9. Wild Rice
Wild rice is higher in protein than regular rice. One cooked cup (about 240 ml) of this rice offers 7 grams of protein apart from also providing fiber, magnesium, copper, manganese, phosphorus, and B vitamins. It has a nutty and chewy texture and eating it regularly will help improve your heart’s health while lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes. You can eat wild rice alone or add it to salads, soups, casseroles, and even desserts.
Bear in mind, however, that wild rice may also contain arsenic, and to reduce its content you should wash it thoroughly before cooking.
10. Nuts and Seeds
One of the easiest ways to increase the amount of protein in your diet is to eat different nuts and seeds. We have already mentioned a few seeds that you can try above. Other than that, you can start having a variety of nuts as they are portable and don’t require refrigeration. Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pine nuts make for a delicious, protein-rich snack or an excellent addition to meals. You can even carry them around in a little box to your workplace or have them in the morning with breakfast. Ideally, you should have them raw, with no other additives to maximize their nutrient benefits.
Nut butters can also be made into a vital part of your everyday snack plate. Two tablespoons of the average nut butter have 6 grams of protein. However, do opt for natural nut butters rather than the household brand varieties as the latter generally contain oil, sugar, and excess salt.
Much like legumes, beans are considered to be one of the richest plant-based sources of protein. A half-cup of black beans, for instance, offers 7 grams of protein. Kidney beans are also super healthy and a major source of protein everywhere in the world and for good reason: 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of boiled kidney beans consists of almost 9 grams of protein. They can be eaten in many delicious ways, too. Like you can make bean soups during the winter months or even use them to make a veggie burger.
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