Top 10 Vegetarian Protein Sources
6 Protein Sources That Aren’t Meat
We're big proponents of eating lots of protein. It’s a vital nutrient for our bodies, and it’s also a fantastic hunger buster. However, steak and burgers aren't your only options.
Why Protein Is Important
Protein is a crucial macronutrient, and it's found in many healthy and delicious foods. Most people know that meat is a protein, but some other protein sources might surprise you. If you’ve heard the term “complete protein” (one with all nine amino acids that our bodies need) and are concerned that some of these sources may not be complete, have no fear. If you incorporate a variety of incomplete proteins into your diet, you’re likely to get all the aminos you need. Here are some of our favorite non-meat protein sources.
1. Greek Yogurt
Yogurt was never the star player on team protein until Greek yogurt entered the game. This yogurt is strained differently from regular dairy yogurt, so it retains more protein and less sugar. Plus, it has a thicker consistency. Plain Greek yogurt has about 24 grams of protein per cup. Impressive! Wondering how to enjoy this miracle food? Zazzle it up!
And for an easy breakfast bowl that you'll flip for, check this out. Make it in a jar if you want to take it to go.
Peach Mango Bowl
Entire recipe: 323 calories, 7.5g total fat (0.5g sat fat), 124mg sodium, 53g carbs, 12.5g fiber, 32g sugars, 23.5g protein
- In a medium bowl, mix 6 ounces (about 2/3 cup) fat-free plain Greek yogurt, 1 no-calorie sweetener packet (like Truvia), and a dash of cinnamon.
- Top yogurt with 1 cup chopped peach and 1/2 cup chopped mango (both fresh or thawed from frozen), followed by 1/4 cup high-fiber bran cereal, and 1/2 ounces (about 2 tablespoons) chopped pistachios.
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart, if it's protein you're after, eating beans is smart. Black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans are all good sources of protein, with around 12.5 grams per cup. Add them to salads, egg scrambles, and steamed veggies. Bonus: they're good for weight loss.
3. (Green) Soybeans
The king of beans by far is the soybean. Unlike other beans, it’s a complete protein! Mature raw soybeans contain a whopping 22 grams of protein per cup, and raw edamame has about 33 grams per cup. They make a perfect snack. Make edamame the first thing you order when you go out for sushi.
5. Meat Substitutes: Tofu, Seitan, and Tempeh
You probably know about tofu, but if you haven’t heard about seitan and tempeh, you're missing out. All of these contain a good dose of protein; seitan contains the most, with about 18 grams per 3-ounce portion. Seiten is a wheat gluten with a chewy, meaty texture. Tempeh is a soy product (like tofu). It differs from tofu in that it's fermented and more flavorful, and it has a crumblier texture. Try them all and choose your favorite. Here’s an easy recipe made with tofu, but feel free to swap in one of the others.
Turbo Tofu Stir-Fry
1/4th of recipe (about 1 1/3 cups): 189 calories, 6.5g total fat (0.5g sat fat), 768mg sodium, 16.5g carbs, 4g fiber, 7g sugars, 13g protein
- Drain a 12-ounce package of block-style extra-firm tofu, and lay it on a dry surface, with the shorter sides on the left and right. Vertically cut into 1/2-inch-wide pieces. Horizontally cut each piece into 4 smaller pieces.
- To make the sauce, in a medium bowl, combine 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium/lite soy sauce, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, a dash of ginger, and a dash of red pepper flakes. Whisk until cornstarch has dissolved.
- Bring a skillet sprayed with nonstick spray to high heat. Add tofu and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes, gently flipping to evenly brown. Transfer to a large bowl, and cover to keep warm.
- Add the following ingredients to the skillet: 4 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables, 3 cups frozen broccoli florets, and 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic. Cover and cook until hot, about 5 minutes.
- Give the sauce mixture a stir and add to the skillet, along with the tofu. Cook and stir until sauce has thickened slightly and tofu is hot, about 3 minutes.
Video: 6 High-Protein Vegetarian Dinners
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