Most health-conscious people understand the importance of protein to support an active lifestyle and lean body mass. Pick up any fitness periodical and you will find “protein” flooding the headlines. Because animal protein sources are considered “complete” proteins (containing all 9 essential amino acids), they are usually recommended as the “best” sources of protein for the diet often overshadowing their plant counterparts.
While many animal protein sources are wonderfully nutritious, a variety of plant proteins can also provide the 9 essential amino acids, plus some significant nutrients you won’t readily find in animal proteins. Sources of plant protein have also been shown to reduce cholesterol levels as well as risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease or cancer; while a diet too high in animal protein may increase risk. Two of the greatest advantages to plant protein, however, are lower cost and ease of preparation. Many are ready-to-eat with little to no preparation required!
Plant protein-rich foods contain healthy omega 3, 6, and 9 fats as well as other heart-healthy fats; fiber; powerful anti-oxidants such as lignans, isoflavins, and vitamin E; as well as valuable minerals such as iron, potassium, folate and magnesium.
Here is a list of some of my favorite sources of plant proteins. Hopefully, you will find them as enjoyable and beneficial as I do!
- Hemp Seeds: I combine with almond milk and berries for a cold cereal
- Chia Seeds: Great in overnight oatmeal or pudding recipes
- Flax Seeds: Great addition to baked goods, granolas, or smoothies
- Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds: Alone as a snack or as a salad topping
- Nuts and Nut Butters: As a snack or as a topping or spread
- Spouted Grain Breads such as Ezekiel: Toasted with nut butters
- Dried Beans/Peas: In salads or dips
- Lentils: Marinated on a cold salad or as a hearty-stew
- Edamame: Boiled and salted, added to a salad, or pureed into a dip
- High Protein Whole Grains: Quinoa and Sorghum are 2 favorites. I enjoy them cooked as a hot breakfast cereal or as a base to a cold salad.
Enjoy this recipe for 10 minute Edamame Guacamole and next time you think protein, try thinking green!
|2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon cumin
|1 cup frozen shelled edamame (green
1 tablespoon water, or as needed
salt and pepper to taste
|Place the garlic cloves, chipotle pepper, olive oil, hot sauce, and cumin into a blender. Puree until smooth, then add the edamame, and continue to puree until smooth. Add water as needed to achieve your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.
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