5 Healthy Meat Substitutes

5 Healthy Meat Substitutes

Photo by matsuyuki

When you are really hungry your body is asking for protein. However, there is no reason for you to go full-time vegetarian in order to green your lifestyle. There are a lot of delicious options available which help you to forget about meat.

They are full of nutrition and you should try at least one meat-free day a week. Here are 5 healthy meat substitutes which will provide you with protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and much more.

1. Soybeans

Soy is a complete protein which contains amino acids that rivals steak, but without artery-clogging fat, cholesterol and excess calories. Soybeans are also full of minerals, fiber, vitamins, and disease-fighting plant compounds. In addition, the best way to eat soy protein is in its form which is not heavily processed, such as soy milk, natto, and tofu.

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2. Peas, beans and lentils

Legumes are a good source of protein and they don’t cost a lot. For example, lentils provide 9 grams of protein per half-cup along with minerals, vitamins, and fiber. Lentils can be cooked quickly and can be added to pasta sauce, eaten as a side dish, or tossed into salads. You can also try serving beans as a side dish, mixing peas into a salad or using them to jazz up a vegetable or salad-based soup.

3. Seeds and raw nuts

Seeds and nuts are great sources of plant protein, vitamin E and fiber. Some contain ALA, which is the plant version of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid. However, they contain a lot of fat, and for that reason it is recommended to eat smaller portion. We recommend that you enjoy it as part of a snack, such as peanut butter and apple slices or use nut butter as a sandwich base.

4. Hemp seeds and quinoa

These seeds are healthy food and they are new to the scene. However, we are singling them out because quinoa is a great protein on its own and hemp is almost complete. One cup contains 9 grams of natural plant protein and for that reason quinoa is one seed which should grace the dinner plates for every person who looks for a healthy alternative to meat.

Beside hemp seeds contain protein, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. You should go easy on them, since this makes them high in fat. Sprinkle seeds on top of cereal or salads or blend powdered hemp into smoothies. Also, don’t forget to chew the seeds thoroughly, because you won’t get the fatty acids or protein from the seeds which are not completely broken.

5. Whole grains

Grains are an excellent source of fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins, and disease-fighting antioxidants. Make sure to choose grains which are whole, since processed grains lose their natural minerals and vitamins, fiber, and most of their protein. Keep in mind that by snacking on slices of multigrain bread solo you won’t get the protein benefits of beef.

The reason is that most grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes doesn’t contain all nine essential amino acids. However, if you combine legumes and grains, or seeds with nuts or legumes, you will get a complete protein. We recommend to try whole wheat couscous with lentils, brown rice and beans, or hummus made with sesame seeds and garbanzo beans.