Part of the reason why I’ve gained five pounds over the past few months (or six, or whatever… but who’s counting?) is because I’ve been “overdosing” on carbs and fats, and not having enough of a balance of protein throughout the day. I’m trying to reign in my eating habits and make sure that I have protein with every meal.
My ultimate protein source is eggs and egg whites, but some days I like to be totally free of animal products and to eat vegan. I tend to be vegan or vegetarian on weekdays and an omnivore on weekends, but lately I’ve been much more vegetarian on the weekdays without the vegan part. My body feels great when I take a few days of eating vegan, but sometimes it’s difficult to find really good sources of vegan protein. As I mentioned in my last post, when it comes to getting enough protein in our diets, sometimes it’s easier to just eat animal proteins instead. That being said, there are some really yummy sources of vegan proteins, too! These are some great ones that are easy to incorporate into your meals:
– Dark Red Kidney Beans, canned: 1 cup contains 210 calories, 1 gram fat, 36 grams carbohydrates (11 grams fibre), and 15 grams protein, plus 15% of your daily calcium intake and 25% of your daily iron intake.
– White (or Great Northern) Beans, dried: 1/3 cup (I’m not sure if that’s dry or cooked… I’m guessing it’s cooked) contains 200 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 36 grams carbohydrates (12 grams fibre), and 13 grams protein, plus 10% of your daily calcium intake and 25% of your daily iron intake.
– Lentils, dried: 1/4 cup (which I believe is cooked rather than dry) contains 170 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrates (15 grams fibre), and 14 grams protein, plus 30% of your daily iron intake.
– Edamame: 1/2 cup (shelled) contains 90 calories, 2 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrates (8 grams fibre), and 10 grams protein.
– Medium Firm Tofu: 1/5 package (85 grams) contains 4 grams fat, 0 grams carbohydrates, and 8 grams protein, plus 15% of your daily calcium intake.
– Wheat Germ: 3 tablespoons contain 50 calories, 1.5 grams fat, 7 grams carbohydrates (2 grams fibre), and 4 grams protein.
– Ground Flax Seed: 2 tablespoons contain 80 calories, 6 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates (4 grams fibre), and 4 grams protein. Flax seed is typically eaten for its healthy fats (it’s full of polyunsaturated, omega-6, omega-3, and monounsaturated fats), so it has the combined benefit of being a good source of both fats and proteins.
– All-Natural Peanut Butter: 1 tablespoon contains 90 calories, 7 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrates, and 4 grams protein. Again, peanut butter is usually eaten because of the healthy fats in it, but it can also be eaten as a protein source.
– NutriBiotic Chocolate Rice Protein Powder: 1 heaping tablespoon contains 57 calories*, 0.4 grams fat, 2.4 grams carbohydrates, and 12 grams protein. I’m not a huge advocate of protein powders, but I do like being able to add a tablespoon of protein powder to a bowl of oatmeal so that there’s some protein added to it. Even when the oatmeal is a mixture of spelt (which contains a higher amount of protein, for a grain), rye, barley, wheat, and whole grain rolled oats, we can still use an extra protein boost with all of those carbs!
*Who’s to say that my version of “a heaping tablespoon” is the same as someone else’s? Are they all going to be exactly 57 calories worth? It seems a silly, arbitrary number, to me!
Other good choices are quinoa, which is a complete protein and contains all of the essential amino acids (that means that it is the equivalent of a hunk of meat in terms of the quality/density of the protein content), and chickpeas. However, I don’t have packages with nutritional information for either of those in my cupboard, so I can’t give you the exact statistics. Any other bean you can think of has equal statistics to the above beans; red kidney beans, chickpeas, and white beans happen to be my typical choices. I also have a fantastic mix of 15 different kinds of beans/legumes that I got from the bulk food store, so I like to use that in everything that I can so as to get the nutritional benefits of a variety of different foods (but, again, I don’t have the exact nutritional statistics for this bean blend).
What are some of your favourite sources of protein, vegan or otherwise?