Last week the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report showing that processed meat causes cancer. For those of us who have read Dr. Colin T Campbell’s The China Study or the popular vegan manifesto Skinny Bitch, this isn’t news. But it’s always interesting when research is released that shows a clear connection between what food and its effect on our health.
Now that the news is out, the question becomes what do we eat? While we’re all familiar with #MeatlessMondays and the satisfying treats we can enjoy sans bacon, it can still feel daunting to figure out what to buy or make. What are the healthy non-animal protein options and where can you find them? We have some ideas. Check out these six plant based proteins worth trying out.
Hemp seeds contain 13 grams of protein per 3 tablespoon serving and are high in fiber, iron, Vitamin E, magnesium, and the B Vitamins. They have a mild flavor and can be added to soups, salads, and even treats like ice cream or shakes. When made into a powder, the protein factor can be boosted for few calories. We’re big fans of Hemp Protein Powder made by Nutiva which has 11 grams of protein per serving.
People either love or hate this blue-green algae but we suggest learning to become a fan. It has too many nutrients to pass on. Loaded with calcium, B Vitamins, niacin, magnesium and iron, Spirulina also packs a mighty protein punch. A half cup in powder form can provide 32 grams. You can take it in pill form too but where’s the fun in that? Most health food stores carry it in the protein powder section and mixed with some fruit and milk, it can make a satisfying smoothie.
With 24 grams of protein per 4 ounces, Seitan gives steak respectable competition. Made from wheat, it’s not gluten free but if you don’t have a sensitivity, check it out. It has a meatier texture compared to other plant based proteins and can be used to make more traditional meals like kabobs or stir-fry’s. To find, check out the refrigerated section of your health food store, usually in the same place where the tofu is.
This often overlooked ancient grain is high in magnesium, gluten free and contains a whopping 28.1 grams of protein per cup. Try it in place of hot cereal or oatmeal. With a dash of cinnamon and a splash of milk it will feel just as comforting on a cold fall morning.
A soy protein originating from Asia, Tempeh is a great dupe for recipes where ground beef or chicken is called for. Its firm, slightly chewy, and less processed than tofu. With 3.5 grams a fiber and 15.4 grams of protein per half cup serving, it’s a great alternative to meat and can be used in versatile ways. Try making a meatless Bolognese or a veggie burger with it.
These delicious legumes are often passed over for black beans or chickpeas (also great forms of protein) but these babies offer copious cooking options and are low in fat. Coming in a variety of types, they have an average of 9 grams of protein per half cup. Use them in a stew or puree them to make a Pâté spread.