If you are a vegetarian and you get your proteins from plants, or you are just trying to reduce the amount of meat in your diet, especially the farmed meat that’s widely available in supermarkets, here are the best alternate protein sources you can find.
1. Nuts and nut butter
Just a handful of walnuts, almonds, cashews, or peanuts give you a quick-and-easy protein boost. Nutty and nut butter are good sources of monounsaturated fat, which can help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. Nuts have 7 grams of protein per 2-Tbs. serving peanut butter.
These little legumes are packed with the about the same amount of fiber as beans. They require no soaking and cook up in just 20-30 minutes. What’s more, they’re a great source of folate, which is important for your nervous system and heart health. Lentils contain 9 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving cooked lentils.
Starting your day with an egg can help curb cravings later in the day, just don’t skip the yolk. Besides being protein rich food, it’s a great source of choline, a nutrient which is vital for our cells to function properly. Egg yolks are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin; antioxidants that help maintain our eye health. One large egg contains 6 g of protein.
4. Greek yogurt
Swap your regular yogurt with this thicker, strained variety, which contains up to twice as much protein. Choose organic, when possible: recent research shows that organic milk has more heart-protective omega-3 fatty acids than its conventional cousin. Look for plain Greek yogurt, as a healthy choice. It has 17 grams of protein per 6-oz. serving 2% Greek yogurt.
Beans make any dish more filling, thanks to plenty of protein and fiber. Being rich in both types of fiber, soluble and insoluble, beans also help in lowering cholesterol levels and promoting healthy digestion. Choose dried beans, or buy cans with BPA-free linings and no added salt. Beans contain 7 grams per 1/2-cup serving cooked black beans.
Together with soy, quinoa is the only plant-based foods that have a complete source of protein. Quinoa has 8 grams of protein in every cooked cup and takes only about 15 minutes to make. It can be used in pilafs or as the base for a salad. You can add quinoa in bean soup, or mix nuts, chopped the red onion, fresh herbs, dried fruit, and seasonings into quinoa and have a high-protein meal.
Tofu will soak up the flavors of whatever you add to it. Use silken varieties for blending into smoothies or puddings; save firmer tofu for baking or stir-frying into chewy pieces and mixing into noodle dishes, salads, sandwiches and veggie bowls. In addition to protein, tofu contains a dose of calcium. Check for all healthy ingredients list on the label. Tofu provides 10 grams of protein per 4-oz. serving firm tofu.
8. Pea protein
Pea protein is made from the yellow pea, is the most highly digestible of the plant proteins, making it a good substitute for people with a sensitive stomach who doesn’t want to do dairy or soy. But it’s not a complete protein because it’s low in 2 amino acids. So eat it is advisable to eat it with another plant-based protein like hemp or rice to round out its amino acid profile. 1/4 of a cup of dry yellow split peas contains about 10 grams of protein.