Protein helps build muscle tissue, and it also supports muscle recovery after a workout. People who work out regularly need an estimated daily protein intake of 1.7 to 1.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, and meeting this guideline is especially important for individuals who engage in strength training. If you’re looking for meatless sources of protein, this guide will provide several options and recipe suggestions that can help you meet your protein needs without sacrificing flavor.
Quinoa is a pseudocereal that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. Generally, one cup of cooked quinoa is considered to be one serving, and this amount contains 8.1 grams of protein. Quinoa comes in tricolor blends and in white and red varieties. To ensure that your quinoa is high quality, look for an organic variety. Quinoa can be incorporated into homemade granola bars for breakfast, and you can also try it at lunch and dinner as a substitute for rice. The texture of quinoa makes it an ideal substitute for meat-based taco fillings, and it can be used to make pie crusts, cookies and cakes, too.
Eggs are a versatile ingredient that can be used as a binding agent or as the star in many recipes. The serving size listed on most egg cartons is given as one egg, and this serving provides 6.3 grams of protein. The quality of the egg is partially dependent on the living conditions of the chicken it came from. Experts suggest buying AA grade eggs for the highest quality. Eggs work well fried, scrambled, or boiled for breakfasts, sandwiches, or salads and they can also be used to make omelets and quiche. As binding agents, they are very beneficial when used in cakes, brownies and other desserts.
Tofu (bean curd) is a soybean-based ingredient that was first used during the Han dynasty period in China. A serving of tofu is typically comprised of one-quarter of a store-bought block (approximately 116 grams in weight), and that portion size contains 9.4 grams of protein. To obtain the highest quality of tofu, look for an organic variety that has not been genetically modified. Some varieties are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals, and these may be particularly useful for vegans and vegetarians. Tofu comes in silken, firm and extra-firm types. Silken tofu has a very smooth texture, and it is typically used in desserts such as pudding, pie fillings and chocolate mousse. The firm and extra-firm versions work well when they are baked or fried, and some people particularly enjoy fried tofu in sandwiches or as a topping in Asian-inspired meals.
Lentils are a member of the legume family, and a half-cup serving of boiled lentils contains roughly nine grams of protein. Lentils are available in many different varieties, including green, red, white, black, brown and golden types. Lentils are used in numerous Indian and Middle Eastern dishes. They can be served together with rice, and people often enjoy using them in curries and as an ingredient in soups and stews. Organic lentils usually provide the highest quality. For individuals who don’t enjoy the texture of plain lentils, many companies now offer kinds of pasta that are made with lentils, and this can be an important way to incorporate this ingredient into your diet.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) can be eaten as a snack, used as a salad topping or incorporated into a meal. Standard serving size of 1/2 cup of boiled chickpeas contains 7.25 grams of protein. While canned, ready-to-eat chickpeas are available, dried chickpeas provide better value for money and have a softer texture that many people prefer. Dried, roasted chickpeas are an ideal substitute for popcorn or potato chips, and the flavor of chickpeas really stands out when used in hummus and falafel. Chickpea flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour in savory dishes, and this is especially helpful for individuals who are following a gluten-free diet.
Also known as wheat gluten, seitan is readily available in most grocery stores, and its thick texture and neutral taste make it an ideal substitute in dishes that would normally contain meat. A three-ounce serving of seitan contains three grams of protein. For the highest quality seitan, look for a lower-sodium variety if purchasing a store-bought version. Seitan can be used as a substitute for ground beef, and many people particularly enjoy it when it is covered in barbecue sauce or used in place of bacon. It works well when breaded and fried like chicken, and individuals looking for a lighter flavor might want to try steaming it or cooking it in broth.
Chia seeds can be sprinkled on top of salads and cereals, and many people also enjoy them when mixed into granola bars or as a topping on bread. A serving of chia seeds is normally one ounce (two tablespoons), and this amount has approximately 4.4 grams of protein. High-quality chia seeds will be black or white; seeds that appear brown are likely immature, and these could have lower protein and nutrient content. Chia seeds can be added to breakfast oatmeal or smoothies, and many people also enjoy adding them as a topping when making homemade crackers, muffins or bread. Popular chia seed desserts include chia seed jam, chia seed pudding and chia seed pancakes.
Edamame is a popular East Asian snack that consists of steamed, immature soybeans that are served in the pod. The beans have a soft texture, and a 3/4 cup serving contains three grams of protein. For the highest quality edamame, try to choose beans that have not been genetically modified, and consider growing your own at home. Edamame can be served with salt as an appetizer, and many people also enjoy making it into a dip or as a crunchy alternative to chips or crackers.
Peanuts have one of the highest protein contents of all nuts. In fact, a typical one-ounce serving (about 28 peanuts) contains almost seven grams of protein. Peanuts can be eaten plain, salted or roasted, and many people also enjoy getting their peanuts through the use of peanut sauces or peanut butter. If you’re selecting peanuts for a snack, look for ones that have a low sodium content, and try to steer clear of fried peanuts. When choosing peanut sauce or peanut butter, opt for preparations that are low in sugar and fat. Popular recipes with peanuts include peanut soup, peanut butter sandwiches, boiled peanuts and peanut brittle.
If you have any concerns about your individual protein needs, check with your doctor. A nutritionist can help you with planning meals that meet your protein goals.