If you’re a Vegetarian, Vegan, or just someone who wants to get their protein in other ways than meat, you will really appreciate these protein alternatives. Depending on your age, physical activity, and other part of your lifestyles, you may need more or less protein per meal; but on average you should get about 10 grams per meal. Why 10 grams? Protein helps with boost metabolism, helps even out blood sugar, and, best of all, helps you feel full and satisfied longer. The more active you are, though, the more you may need. You can chat with your trainer or nutritionist, or even your doc about protein levels. Now, let’s get to some protein alternatives!
Popeye had it right
Spinach is a protein packed green! Two cups of this already has the 10 grams of protein you need per meal. Eat it in a salad, cooked with whole wheat or quinoa pasta, in a smoothie, or tossed with some garlic as a side. Spinach will shrink down when you cook it, so it won’t be too overwhelming to have two full cups. Even if spinach isn’t your favorite, you can put it in a smoothie and the only way you can tell spinach is in there is the green color! Research and sample different ways to get this green protein in and see the difference!
We hear about this food all the time; but what exactly are examples of this food? Chickpeas (hummus), beans, and lentils are examples. Only 1/3 of a cup has the 10 grams you will need for the meal! Scoop some hummus on some veggies or on a sandwich, make a yummy lentil soup, or a bean salad. You may not have realized how much protein is in a legume, or what it even was before, but now you can legume it up!
The Seed and Nut Combos
Another way you may not have known to get the protein in: seeds! Chia, hemp, sunflower, and flax are all great examples of seeds you can eat alone, in a smoothie, in salads, or any other combination that tastes good to you. Using two tablespoons of a seed and two cups of leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, chard, etc…) is a great protein combo. And don’t forget your nuts! Almonds, cashews, and pistachios are a great source of protein and healthy fats, Sprinkle in your salad, eat alone or with a piece of fruit for a snack, or get them in a nut butter (almond and cashew butter). Combining these with other healthy foods will help not only get your protein, but a complete nutritious meal.
In a smoothie, salad, side, stir-fry – however you like it, veggies are the way to go for a low calorie and protein packed meal. All vegetables have protein just some more than others. Make your smoothie with aforementioned spinach, kale, cucumber, carrots, or any other vegetables you dig. Make an exciting salad with mushrooms, bell peppers, and those protein packed seeds, or a stir fry with the same stuff if you like it hot. Grab a sweet potato and bake it, adding other veggies, legumes, and there’s your whole meal in itself! Although these veggies don’t have a ton of protein alone, together they will fill your 10 grams of protein, and more, in your meal of choice.
Bottom line: Protein comes in all shapes, sizes, and tastes! Alone or in a combination with other foods, protein doesn’t need to only come in the form of a meat product. Trying these other sources of protein will help you to get the benefits of other foods and will keep you from getting bored from the same old foods. Enjoy your meals and play it up with your proteins! Be Healthy!