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Health and Fitness News

Picking Your Protein from the Ground

Where to find protein when meat isn’t on the menu.

Protein and meat are almost synonymous. For years, people have turned to meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk for their daily dose of protein, and for good reason. Animal-based foods are typically high in this essential macronutrient. These days, more and more people are cutting back on the amount of meat they consume. Whether for health, environmental, or ethical concerns, plant-based diets are becoming more popular.

The good news is that meat isn’t the only way to get your fill of protein. If you’re looking for plant-based sources of protein, look no further. Here are six great options to try.

1: Soy Products

Soybeans contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein. For this reason, vegans and vegetarians often turn to soy products for their protein. With 16 grams of protein per serving, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and can be made with whole grains, flavorings, or beans. It comes in a cake form and is also high in fiber and probiotics.

Tofu is another soy product. Coming from condensed soy milk, tofu offers 10 grams of protein per serving, and each serving comes in firm blocks. One of the best-known meat substitutes, tofu readily takes the flavor of whatever food it’s made with.

Edamame are immature soybeans often still in the seed pod, which is also edible. Typically eaten as a snack or added to salads, soups, or noodle dishes, edamame beans contain more than 8 grams of protein per serving.

2: Legumes

A legume especially high in protein is the chickpea. Also known as garbanzo beans, Bengal grams, and Egyptian peas, chickpeas contain more than 7 grams of protein per serving. And they’re versatile. Chickpeas can be mashed and made into hummus or left whole and added to salads, stews, or curries.
Peanuts are another legume rich in protein, with more than 20 grams in half a cup. Eat your peanuts plain or as peanut butter spread on bread or crackers or added to your smoothie.

Also rich in fiber, iron, and potassium, lentils are another legume known for high protein content. With almost 9 grams of protein per serving, lentils are a great addition to salads, rice dishes, curries, soups, and stews.

3: Quinoa

A whole grain with a whole lot of protein is quinoa. It’s also one of the few complete plant-based protein sources. A single cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams of protein. As an added perk, it’s filled with fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Quinoa is a versatile dish that can be used in place of rice, eaten as the main dish, enjoyed as a breakfast grain, or added to baked goods, salads, burgers, tacos, or soups.

4: Seitan

Boasting 21 grams of protein per serving, seitan is another plant-based protein. Also known as wheat meat, wheat gluten, or wheat protein, seitan is taken from wheat gluten and spices. So if you have a gluten intolerance or celiac disease, don’t eat it. Seitan has the consistency of meat, making it a common meat substitute in recipes.

5: Spirulina

Algae is probably not on your grocery list, but you should make an exception for spirulina. Because 2 tablespoons of this blue-green algae contains 8 grams of protein. That’s almost as much protein as eggs have! With a bitter taste, many people don’t like spirulina on its own. Instead, they add spirulina powder to smoothies, yogurt, or juice.

6: Seeds

Chia and hemp seeds are both considered complete sources of protein with all nine amino acids. Two tablespoons of chia seeds contain 2 grams of protein and one tablespoon of hemp seeds contain 5 grams of protein. Add them to smoothies or sprinkle them on yogurt for an instant protein boost.

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