If you are thinking of becoming vegan, or starting to incorporate a more plant-based lifestyle into your daily routine, it's common to worry about getting enough protein in your diet. Or perhaps you are concerned about staying satisfied, especially if you have a very active lifestyle.
First off, just because you want to incorporate plants, it doesn't mean you have to be vegan. If that seems daunting, starting by basing your diet on plants. Ease off of eggs, meats and dairy. I won't tell you to go from a hamburger loving to "full vegan" in one day; for most, that'd be a recipe for disaster.
Start by easing more veggies in, and looking to have most of your diet come from veggies, fruits, seeds and nuts. Gluten-free grains, lentils, peas, coconut, and legumes; these are all great parts of a plant-based diet.
Now: how to get that protein in?
Hemp Seeds: this is my favorite way to pack in the protein. With 2-3 TBSPs, you get 11g of protein; this is akin to the same amount of protein as beef/lamb. Plus, they are a complete protein source (they provide all the essential amino acids!)
Seitan. At 25g of protein per 3.5 grams, seitan is a top pick if you can eat wheat. Try Seitan Jerky for an array of easy options!
Tofu/Tempeh/Soybeans. All three have a high protein content, as well as iron and calcium.
Lentils. I looove lentils (especially since I can't eat wheat or soy). They have 18g of protein per cup and are super versatile in salads, soups, casseroles, "meat" loafs, etc.
Beans. Chickpeas, white beans, black beans, pinto, etc etc. Beans are also versatile and rack in about 15g of protein per cup.
Nutritional Yeast. If you love cheese, stock up on nutritional yeast. It lends a cheesy flavor and is great over popcorn, potatoes or whatever else you want a buttery cheesy taste on. Plus it has 14g of protein per ounce!
Chia Seeds: Another complete protein, chia seeds offer 3g per TBSP.
Peas. Most peas offer 9g per cup of protein and offer fiber and numerous other vitamins and minerals.
Nuts: There are 5-7g of protein per ounce. (Plus, they are full of healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants as well as numerous vitamins.
Oatmeal: 1/2 cup contains about 6g of protein, plus oatmeal is great at keeping you full!
Protein-rich veggies: broccoli, brussel sprouts, spinach, sweet potatoes, and asparagus all offer 4-5g of protein per cup.
Now that you have all these protein sources, how can you be sure to stay full? These are some of the best foods to keep you satisfied:
Oatmeal. Stir in chopped up nuts, hemp and chia seeds and you will be SET.
Nuts. Yummy, fillinf and protein-packed. Dip apple slices in nut butter, or keep a baggy in your car for when you need a boost.
Chia Seeds. These babies expand and fill you up. Try adding it to smoothies, cereals, salads, puddings; anything!
Hummus/Beans. Dip your protein-rich veggies in hummus to really stay full, or roast beans with seasoning for a savory crunchy snack.
Avocado. Mush avocado and lemon juice into leafy greens, add seeds and top with lentils or quinoa for a perfect light dinner.
Brown Rice. Brown rice veggie sushi, anyone? Brown rice is a great base for veggie burritos or a dinner bowl.
Lentils. Make a lentil spinach dish to pack in protein and nutrients, or make a lentil soup to really fill you up.
Sweet Potatoes. Roast sweet potatoes and top with nutritional yeast, coconut oil and pepper for a cheesy potato dish.
Quinoa. Every weekend cook a big pot. Add it to baked goods, savory dishes, salads; almost anything. Look for quinoa pasta too; that'll keep you full and energized!
Now that you're started with a list of foods to get you going and power through that long day or workout, let me know your favorites! What recipes do you want to see? I'll create a plant-based dish just for you; hit me up on here, email or social media!