Getting enough protein is always a priority on a vegetarian or vegan diet and we’ve talked about it before here on The Daily Radish. Still, you can never have enough new ideas to help you shake up your diet and get all of the nutrients you need at the same time.
The Huffington Post put out a piece on “Vegetarian Protein: 8 Great Meat-Free Sources” last month and I wanted to hit some of the highlights. We can get into a rut of relying on the same sources for our proteins, so maybe one of these can be incorporated into your diet to liven things up a little.
1. Greek Yogurt
This is one that we rely on quite a bit in our house. I love the taste and the creaminess of yogurt, but Greek yogurt has up to twice the protein of regular yogurt. Depending on the brand and the serving size, Greek yogurt can have anywhere from about 13 to 18 grams of protein per serving.
Beans have been a mainstay of the vegetarian diet forever, but you may not know how much protein they really contain. One cup of garbanzo beans, black beans or kidney beans has about 15g of protein. That old advice to have them with rice to make a complete protein has been proven untrue, by the way, so try beans in dips, soups and stews.
Just one cup of lentils has as much protein as three ounces of steak: about 18g. They’re also packed with iron and fiber, so use them in rich soups, as a thickener for stews and even as a sandwich filler.
Tofu or soybean curd is another longtime staple of the vegetarian diet. I have to admit that I’m a holdout. I’ll toss some tofu cubes into one of my favorite Asian soups but that’s about where it ends for me. I may need to broaden my horizons a bit because it is a very flexible ingredient and just half a cup contains more than 10g of protein.
Okay, I’m opening myself up to some snarky emails here, but I’ve never used it and I know I’m one of the few vegetarians who hasn’t tried it. However, it’s got 15g of protein in just a half-cup serving so I should probably give it a try. If you have some good ideas on what I should use it for, I’m all ears.
Spinach is one of my all-time favorite vegetables and I’d say we eat it either raw or cooked at least four times a week. It’s known for it’s iron content but did you know it also contains about 5g of protein per cup? Toss some in your salads, use raw spinach on your sandwiches and wraps or throw it into your miso soup (delicious).
Quinoa is something that we’ve started eating quite a bit in our house. One cooked cup contains more than 8g of protein. I use it as a substitute for pasta, as a breakfast grain and even in desserts like yogurt parfaits.
Other nuts, such as walnuts and pistachios are good sources of protein, but as a legume, peanuts pack more protein than the rest, as much as 7g per ounce. Just watch the fat grams while you’re at it.
If some of you are new to some of these protein sources, as I am to tempeh, then give one or a few a try. Let me know if they turn out to be new favorites!