13 Surprising Sources of Protein (Meat Free)
Eating a vegetarian diet can be very healthy and rewarding. However, it is a common concern among vegetarians that they are not consuming enough protein. But there is no need for vegetarians to force themselves to eat meat, as there are many vegetarian foods which contain an abundant amount of protein and amino acids (the building blocks of proteins). So, look no further than this list of protein-rich (meatless) foods for you to feast on!
Avocados are full of good stuff. Don’t listen to those who say they are fattening. Avocados do contain fat, indeed, but good fat that your body needs. Avocados are also loaded with protein. To get the best out of it, chop it up and add it to salads, smoothies, or pop it on toast!
Further reading: Find here 11 healthy reasons to eat avocado and what to do with the pit.
Just half a cup of chickpeas contains more than 7 grams of protein. So why not make delicious homemade hummus by pureeing chickpeas with tahini, garlic, lemon juice and some olive oil. Alternatively, you can roast them for an on-the-go protein boost.
The combination of a high fiber content and protein makes lentils a fulfilling meal choice while keeping your blood sugar levels stable, meaning more energy and less hunger cravings. Lentils are also packed with iron (6.6mg per cup cooked — over 80% of the daily recommended intake for men). Plus, lentils are easy to prepare and take less time to cook than most beans and legumes because they don’t need to be soaked beforehand. All you have to do is cook them in liquid, such as water or a stock/broth, in a 3:1 liquid to lentil ratio for just 20 to 30 minutes, until they are soft.
You can choose from many different types of beans. The choice is yours! Whether that’s black, white, pinto or heirloom, plus many more. Whichever bean you choose, you can rest assured that it will contain as much protein as the other. One cup of kidney beans, for example, contain around 15 grams protein.
5. Green Peas
Did you know that those little green balls contain about as much protein as a small serving of peanut butter? Just one cup of peas contains 8 grams of protein. Plus 100% of your daily vitamin C allowance, and lots of fulfilling fiber.
6. Sundried tomatoes
Sundried tomatoes are a delicious addition to your salad. But if their tastiness isn’t enough to entice you, then maybe the fact that 1 cup of them contains 8 grams of protein will!
Like avocados, nuts contain lots of healthy fats and are packed with protein, making them an ideal snack. Pistachios, for example, contains 160 calories and 5 or 6 grams of protein per ounce. Just make sure you choose raw nuts as opposed to those full of salt and sugar. Nut butters are also a great choice for spreading on toast, or eating straight out of the jar! But again, make sure you choose nut butters which contain as less extra ingredients as possible, in order to make it more pure and healthy.
Further reading: Read my previous article about the amazing health benefits of nuts and seeds (including delicious recipes).
8. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are so full of protein that there’s really no excuse for you not to be scoffing them. One tiny ounce contains 9 grams of protein! So for goodness sake, if you don’t already, start eating them! A delicious way to have pumpkin seeds is simply popping them on top of your oatmeal or salad or adding them to smoothies.
9. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are another super-seed that boasts 6 grams of protein per ounce. That’s as much as an egg! Hemp seeds are very versatile and can be added to salads, granola, rice dishes, cookies, oatmeal or even mixed up in a green smoothie. Go on, get creative!
10. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are often touted as the most nutritiously dense seed, full of antioxidants, fiber, omega 3-fatty acids, and you guessed it, protein! (4.7 grams per ounce, about two tablespoons). Chia seeds can be whizzed up in green smoothie, sprinkled over salads, popped into yogurt or oatmeal, or you can even put them in milk, where they will form a gel-like texture, making a rich and creamy treat! It is a true superfood that is also featured in my e-book about superfoods which is part of the Natural Health Revolution Program, a program that will help you to achieve your health, nutrition or weight loss goals.
Further reading: Find in this article 10 amazing reasons you should eat chia seeds.
A lot of people think that quinoa is a grain, whereas, actually, it is in fact, a seed. Most grains only contain a small amount of protein, but quinoa contains more than 8 grams per cup! Not to mention it includes essential amino acids that our bodies need. It’s no wonder why quinoa is referred to as the ‘perfect protein.’ Plus, there’s so much you can do with quinoa. You can use it in soup, or make a quinoa porridge with maple syrup and fresh fruit. Or you could make a refreshing quinoa salad. The possibilities are endless! You can even make delicious gluten-free quinoa fritters with tzaziki – find the recipe here.
Eating a bowl of oatmeal is a fabulous way to start your day, as oats release their energy slowly. They also contain a rather hefty amount of protein. 1 cup oats contain 26 grams of protein! You can make delicious oatmeal for breakfast (find the recipes here) or add them to smoothies like this banana oatmeal smoothie.
13. Brown Rice
Rice is not the most protein-packed food on this list. However, brown rice is a healthy food option, containing B-vitamins, essential fatty acids, fiber, manganese, and phosphorus, as opposed to white rice, which is heavily processed. There is 4.5 to 5 grams of protein for a cup of brown rice. You can also try consuming purple rice which contains even more protein and fiber than brown rice.
These protein sources are not plant based but they are still suitable for vegetarians (but not vegans):
14. Free Range Organic Eggs
Eggs are so fantastically versatile and full of nutrients that you would be a fool not to eat them! To be exact, there is 6.3g of protein per large egg. So why not make a delicious omelette, full of your favorite veggies, for a healthy meal.
15. Part-skim Ricotta Cheese
I wouldn’t blame you for thinking that ricotta is not a great protein source. A lot of people don’t regard it is as one. However, I come bearing good news, as a standard serving of ricotta contains 14g per 1/2 cup! Ricotta goes great with savory dishes like pasta or on top of waffles and pancakes.
16. Low Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
With its slightly sour, yet creamy and delicious taste, Greek yogurt makes for an incredibly versatile food, which is full of protein. To be exact, 18g per 6-ounce container (or 24g per cup). You can use it as a healthy alternative to sour cream, in Mexican dishes, in bagels, smoothies or as a pancake/waffle topping! The choice is yours.
17. 1% Cottage Cheese
Protein helps prevent spikes in our blood sugar levels, and so it’s fortunate that yummy cottage cheese, contains 21 grams of protein per 6 ounces. Spread cottage cheese over a slice of wholemeal toast with a drizzle of honey for a nutritious breakfast or snack!
Eating more proteins is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
Read my other related articles:
1. Discover Better Sources of Calcium Than Dairy Products
2. The Top Proven Health Benefits of Eating Eggs
3. The Amazing Health Benefits of L-lysine