Protein is an essential nutrient that we need for our bodies to function properly, mainly for cell growth and tissue repair. Sadly, most of us have been conditioned to think that the primary source of protein comes from animals in the form of meat, dairy and eggs, but this is far from the truth. As a culture we have become obsessed with ensuring that we eat enough protein, and whilst it is an essential nutrient, I feel that is is far better for our health and the environment to focus on quality and not quantity. One of the reasons I stopped eating meat was because of the meat industry and how they pump hormones into animals left, right and centre, to get them growing quicker and bigger, with our societies intense desire to have them on our plate for every meal.
Plant-based protein is an excellent source of protein, which also contains fibre, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Plant-based foods are broken down a lot easier in the body, which means that the nutrients are absorbed better too. Whereas animal protein places quite a bit of stress on the body because it’s highly acidic, especially red meat and dairy, which can lead to toxicity build up and immflamuation.
Research shows that today’s modern diet consumes too much animal meat, which has been linked to the cause of many diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and kidney failure. Cutting down on meat and incorporating plant-based sources of protein into your diet will not only minimize your risk of illness and help current conditions, because you will be nourishing your body with an abundance of nutrient dense foods, you will also be helping the environment, recovering quicker from fitness and boosting your immune system.
Here are some of my top plant-based proteins that I consume daily, in one way or another:
1. Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower, Chia, Flax, Hemp, Sesame, Poppy
These are my favourite seeds that I use and alternate with daily. Seeds are high in protein, fibre, vitamin E and monounsaturated fats that can help keep our heart healthy and our body free from diseases. They contain calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Way to enjoy:
- Sprinkle on top of salads, porridge or any meal
- Use in granola, add to pancakes, muffins and cakes
- Grind and use as a “flour” in baking
- Use in trail mix, truffles, raw bars and >> Energy Balls <<
- Make your own seed butters by blending in a food processor
2. Nuts – Almonds, Cashews, Brazils, Pecans, Walnuts, Hazelnuts
I am obsessed with nuts. I defiantly think cashews are my favourite. Nuts have similar benefits to seeds, as they are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, fibre, calcium ect.
Ways to enjoy:
- Add to smoothies (better soaked overnight)
- Make into nut milks like >> Almond Milk <<
- Sprinkled on salads, porridge and stir fries
- Grind into a “flour” to use for baking
- Make energy balls like >> Cashew & Maca <<
- Make your own nut butter like >> Cashew Butter <<
3. Lentils – Red split, Green, Yellow
Lentils are hassle-free and easy to use and they really bulk up any dish. Lentils are a popular for plant-based protein, but they also contain complex carbohydrates, iron and insoluble fibre.
Ways to enjoy:
- In curries and chilli
- Mixed into salads
- Blended into soups like >> Carrot & Coriander <<
4. Beans – Butter beans, Black beans, Kidney beans, Edamame beans, Chickpeas
I love how inexpensive and versatile beans are. I always have them to hand as they can be used for dinners, desserts or snacks (when I am buying canned I try to get the ones in just water, as oppose to salt). Beans are a powerhouse of nutrients including antioxidants, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc.
Ways to enjoy:
- Use in curries, chillies and salads
- Make delicious dips by blending them up with spices and herbs
- Make >> Hummus <<
- Mix or blend them into soups
5. Quinoa – White, Red and Black
Quinoa is a gluten free grain (technically a seed) that is used normally used as a carbohydrate. It’s considered a starchy protein because it contains carbohydrates and fibre, yet it is renowned for being a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids. Quinoa also contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, calcium and vitamin E.
Ways to enjoy:
- Use instead of rice
- Stir into salads
- Make quinoa stuffed mushrooms or peppers
- Make into burgers
- Make a risotto
I hope this has been useful. Would love to know your thoughts in the comment box below.
Much L O V E, Nicky