Whether you eat a vegan/vegetarian diet or not, protein is an essential component to a healthy diet. Protein is essential for growth and maintenance of body tissues, and it even helps the hair on your head grow!
There are even many options for those concerned about eating “complete protein,” which includes all nine of the amino acids, or the building blocks of protein, the body can’t produce on its own.
How much protein do you need a day? The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.36 grams per pound. So a 120 pound woman would need around 43 grams per day. It is also said that men need more. On average, for a sedentary male, 56 grams per day are recommended, and for the average woman, 46 grams per day.
Below are some options to consider for your next meal:
Protein: 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, cooked
A great substitute for rice or even oatmeal in the morning, this complete protein is full of fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese. It can even be bought in flour form to make pancakes, muffins, bread and more.
Protein: 6 grams per 1 cup serving, cooked
Great for those concerned about gluten, this grain can be used for pancakes, oatmeal, baking and more.
3. Hemp Seeds
Protein: 10 grams per 3 tbsp serving
Another complete protein, this seed packs magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium with it, and can be sprinkled on salad, oatmeal and even blended into a smoothie. It’s also a great source of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3s.
4. Chia Seeds
Protein: 4 grams per 2 tbsp serving
Super high plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, and they offer more fiber than flax seeds or nuts. They also contain iron, calcium, antioxidants and zinc, and many use them as an egg replacement in recipes because when combined with water, they form a gel. Another great one for smoothies!
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Protein: 9 grams per 1 ounce
Eat them on their own, add them to a salad, or sprinkle some on your morning oatmeal.
Protein: 4 grams per 1 cup
Antioxidants, mono-unsaturated fats, and more make avocado a great choice for nutrition – plus it offers 4 grams of protein per cup. It can be added to salad, sandwiches and smoothies – and try this recipe for Vegan Avocado Mousse!
Protein: 7 grams per ½ cup
Add them to a salad, roast them in the oven for a snack, or puree them with tahini, garlic, vinegar and oil for hummus.
8. Green Peas
Protein: 4 grams per ½ cup
This veggie is packed with protein, as well as vitamin C and fiber.
9. Sundried Tomatoes
Protein: 8 grams per 1 cup
A great addition to salads, side dishes, pasta and chili, sundried tomatoes can also be mixed into a dip or hummus!