Foodie Friday: Vegetarian Protein 101 #ThisIsNow
When vegetarianism first started rising in popularity in the United States, experts advised specific combinations of foods to get “complete” amino acids. Today, we know that vegetarians don’t have to work so hard to get their protein. Even vegans (those who eat no animal products including eggs and milk) can get the protein they need without too much effort.
Actually, according to some sources, the average American eats about 50% more protein than the recommended daily amount, so switching some meals to vegetarian might make sense, even if you don’t want to go fully vegetarian. Most adults need 40 – 70 grams of protein each day, depending on age, gender and situation (average 46 grams/day for women, 56 grams/day for men).
Here are some protein sources to consider:
One whole egg contains 6 grams of protein. An omelet for breakfast, a hard-boiled egg for a snack, an egg binder for a vegetarian patty – eggs are a terrific source of protein.
One cup of quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), has 8 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of iron and fiber. Use quinoa in salads or in place of rice.
Black, kidney, pinto, chickpeas, lentils, etc., are all delicious low-fat, fiber-filled sources of protein. Beans and other legumes can be eaten hot as a main or side dish, cold in salads, or thrown into soups and stews. One cup of cooked black beans has about 16 grams of protein. One cup of cooked lentils has 18 grams of protein.
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, make a great snack or topping for soup, salad, entrees or side dishes. A one ounce serving has 7 grams of protein.
One cup of soy milk has 8 grams of protein. All soy products, including tofu and edamame (soybeans) are excellent sources of protein.
Greek yogurt, which is thicker than regular yogurt, can be a terrific source of protein, with as much as 15 grams of protein in a 6-ounce carton. But read the labels: not all Greek yogurts have the same amount of nutrients.
With 8 grams of protein in two tablespoons, peanut butter was a great choice when you were a kid, and it’s a great choice now. In addition to being a sandwich spread, you can add it to smoothies, baked goods, savory sauces, or just use it as a dip for slices of apple.
Seitan is a wheat-based meat substitute, and provides 18 grams of protein in a three ounce serving. You can use it in main dishes, sandwiches, soups, etc.
With 6 grams of protein in a one-ounce serving, almonds also provide monounsaturated fats which are heart healthy. Just watch the portion size, as with all nuts.
In one-half cup of cottage cheese, there are 13 grams of protein. Read the labels, though, as all brands may not have the same nutrients.