Protein is vital to the human body, along with carbohydrates and healthy fats. Protein is the major building block of the body with its main role being to build muscles, tissues and organs. It also supports metabolism, aids the digestive process, needed for neurological function, balances hormones and can aid weight loss.
An insufficient intake of protein can lead to amino acid deficiency, which can cause unstable blood sugar levels, low energy levels and fatigue, muscle, bone and joint pain, trouble losing weight or gaining muscle, mood swings, low immunity and poor concentration.
Generally speaking, foods such as meats, seafood, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds are considered part of the protein food group.
Let’s look beyond that!
Plant-Based Protein Sources
Although higher concentration of protein can be found in animal products, there are various plant-based fruits and vegetables that are also rich in protein, fiber and minerals, and make wonderful alternatives to animal sources of protein. Introducing…
- Avocado is absolutely nutritious as it contains 2 g of protein per fruit and offers to be a great source of fiber and monounsaturated fatty acids. This fruit can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Edamame Beans contains a healthy 18 g of protein per cup couple that with low levels of fat and sugar, fiber, amino acids and various minerals including calcium and iron.
- Mushrooms are nutritious, meaty food and a great source of protein, selenium, antioxidant minerals, copper, niacin, potassium, iron and Vitamin C. Mushrooms are immune boosters, helps in cancer prevention and are the only foods that contain germanium – a mineral that prevents against damaging effects of free radicals. Did you know that mushrooms are the only natural food source of Vitamin D?!?
- Pumpkin Seeds, Seeds: Contain 5 g of protein per ¼ cup. They are also rich in magnesium, immune boosting zinc and plant-based omega 3 fatty acids and tryptophan – which aids relaxation and restful sleep.
- Oatmeal contains 5 g of protein per ¼ cup. Oats have a low glycemic index, especially Steel Cut Oats, and will help keep you feeling full for longer.
- Spinach contains 3 g of protein per ½ cup. They are low in fat and cholesterol. Spinach is a good source of fiber, iron, folate, potassium, Vitamins B6, A, C, E, K and much more.
- Legumes contain 7-10 g of protein per cup. Encompassing over 13,ooo varieties, this family is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, Vitamin B, magnesium, iron, zinc, potassium and thiamin. These are highly satiating foods that can aid weight loss.
- Tofu is made from soybean curds and is naturally gluten-free, low in calorie, cloistral and an excellent source of protein, calcium and iron.
There are a plethora of plant-based protein recipes available that will help you discover how to combine plant foods to create a tasty, protein-rich meal.
Protein Punch Edamame Napa Cabbage Salad & Sesame Ginger Dressing
Napa cabbage is a type of Chinese cabbage. This recipe makes a lot so you may only want to make half. It’s a terrific dish to take to a potluck or picnic.
Ingredients | Salad
8-10 cups Napa cabbage, sliced or shredded
2 cups carrots, shredded
2 cups red bell pepper, sliced, matchstick-sized
½ cup green onions, sliced
2½ cups edamame, shelled and cooked
¼ cup sesame seeds, toasted
Ingredients | Dressing
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp toasted/dark sesame oil
½ tbsp honey
1½ tbsp ginger, grated
¼ tsp pepper
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Toss together all the salad ingredients, except the sesame seeds, in a large bowl. In a small bowl – or better yet, a mason jar with lid – mix all the dressing ingredients together and give it a good stir/shake. Make sure you taste the dressing to see if you want to add a bit more sea salt. Or ginger. Or whatever you like!
Starting slowly, stir some of the dressing into the salad. Add more until its at your preferences. Then top with sesame seeds.
If you won’t be eating this all at one time, keep the edamame ans sesame seeds in separate containers, adding them just before serving. You may be able to eat this salad for several days if you keep the salad and dressing ingredients separate until you are ready to eat it.
Recipe Credit: beyondriceandtofu.com
Photo Credit: goodleaffarms.com