When you think of protein, you might think of meat or other animal products. But there are many powerful plant-based foods with protein available. If you are watching your weight, plant-based sources of protein can be very helpful because they contain fiber, which helps you feel fuller on fewer calories. Foods high in protein also help to decrease your appetite.
Here are just a few of these foods, their benefits, and ideas on how you can use them to balance your diet and even save some money in the process.
1. Chick peas: Just one 7 oz serving of chick peas gives you 16.0 grams of protein. The average woman requires 46-50 grams of protein daily, so a serving of chick peas provides approximately 1/3 of that.
Try a simple chickpea stir-fry: Simply stir-fry a 15 oz can of chickpeas, 3 cups of chopped bok choy greens, 1 cup of sliced carrots, 1 cup of sliced onions, and a Tbsp of chopped garlic. Stir-fry all ingredients until cooked through, then drizzle with a small amount of peanut oil with a touch of sea salt for taste.
This is a great meal idea because meat is usually the most expensive grocery item you buy. Replacing a couple of meat-heavy meals with those that feature peas or beans a couple of times a week can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
2. Baked beans: Most of us are familiar with baked beans from holiday cookouts, but you may not know that this dish is a powerhouse source of protein. An 8 oz serving of protein provides you with 11.5 grams of protein. Try cutting the brown sugar in your preparation by 1/3 to save on calories.
3. Tofu: Made from soybeans, tofu is a versatile meat or dairy substitute because it takes on the flavors of whatever dish in which it is used, from main dishes like lasagna to stir-fry. Each 5 oz serving of tofu gives you 10.3 grams of protein.
4. Lentils: Another of the potent plant foods with protein are lentils. These legumes come in a variety of colors from green to yellow to brown. A small 4 ¼ oz serving packs 9.1 grams within it. Lentils are delicious in soups or stews, and are especially satisfying in cooler weather. You can also use them as an ingredient in a vegetarian meat loaf.
5. Soy milk: Drink ½ pint of soy milk and you help yourself to 8.2 grams of protein. Drink it plain or use one of the flavored varieties like vanilla or chocolate blended with vanilla yogurt and frozen fruit to create a delicious fruit smoothie.
6. Muesli: Muesli is a common breakfast cereal and is a hearty mix of rolled oats, fruits, nuts and seeds. A 2 ¼ oz serving of muesli provides 7.7 grams of protein. Add soy milk to your muesli and heat it to enjoy a warm breakfast treat.
7. Peanuts: Peanuts are the final of the potent foods with protein. A 1 oz serving of peanuts pack 7.3 grams of protein. Roasted peanuts are an ideal snack. However, watch your serving sizes carefully; in addition to protein, they also are high in fat. A 1 oz serving of peanuts is around 25 nuts.
Consider replacing some of the animal-based foods with protein in your current diet with plant-based sources. While some of the plant-based sources have fat in them, it is the non-saturated type, which is heart healthy. In contrast, animal-based sources of protein contain hard, saturated fat, which is the dangerous fat that contributes to heart disease.
Take advantage of the benefits of plant-based foods with protein by adding more of these foods to your diet.