I'm going to talk to you about the plant foods with the most protein. Have you ever thought about trying a vegan or plant-based diet, but have been worried about getting enough protein? Well, never fear and forget what you’ve heard. Protein in plants is much easier to come by than you may think. Plant-based diets have grown massively in popularity over the last ten years and you’ll see why when you give them a try. With a massive reduction of saturated fats and an increase of plant-based proteins, many people feel lighter, healthier and more rejuvenated when they add more fruits and vegetables to their diets. So, to get you started, here are the plant foods with the most protein to add to your diet, even if you’re not fully vegan.
Spinach is an amazing, high-protein green that is tasty and healthy for you. At nearly a gram per cup of raw spinach and 10 grams per 100 calories, spinach is a great addition to your diet and is very easy to integrate into your daily meals. Simply add a few handfuls into your morning smoothie and you won’t taste a thing. The flavor completely dissolves into the fruity goodness. Add a few handfuls to a pan or a steamer to wilt the leaves down, give it a splash of lemon and seasonings, and you’ve got a great side dish too. It may look like a lot on the surface, but a few cups of spinach wilts down to about half a cup cooked, so don’t be intimidated by the looks of it at first glance. Spinach is one of the most delicious plant foods with the most protein.
This protein-packed food is filling, delicious, and incredibly inexpensive. You can get low-salt canned chickpeas for a dollar or less at most major grocers and a pound of dried chickpeas for about $1.10. Half a cup of chickpeas will get you about 7 grams of protein. Add them to soups and salads, roast for a light and crunchy snack, or blend them with tahini, lemon, oil, and garlic for a delicious hummus that you can spread on your sandwiches, burritos, and pita bread!
Quinoa is a high-protein, vegan holy grail! Each cup has roughly 8 grams of protein and a fantastic amino acid profile. These tiny seeds cook up like a grain and are a great replacement for rice and other grains in your meals. Use it as fluffy and filling side dish or add it to salads and in burritos! The possibilities are endless!
4. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is an oldie but a goody in terms of plant-based protein. There’s a reason you always felt full, satisfied and happy after eating those PB&J sandwiches as a kid. For every two teaspoons of this creamy goodness, you get 8 grams of protein. You’ll also get a high amount of Niacin and Omega-6 fatty acids. What more could you ask for from an old favorite? Just remember to use real fruit jellies with less added sugar to make those PB&Js a little healthier.
My personal favorite of the bunch are lentils. These tiny little legumes come packed with protein, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, copper and folate! Just half a cup contains about 9 grams of protein, and there are several varieties of lentils if one type doesn’t suit your taste. Add a cup of well-rinsed lentils to your soups and enjoy the nutritional boosts you gain from it. You can also use them to replace ground meats to create plant-based versions of sloppy joes, bolognese, and shepherd’s pie. Give them a try!
6. Soy Products (Tofu, Soymilk, Tempeh, TVP)
Soy is a staple in many diets around the world for its wonderful nutritional content. One serving of tofu has 10 grams of protein! This versatile bean is also easily transformed into an array of delicious meals. Either bake sliced pieces of tofu and then coat in a delicious sauce of your choice or pan fry seasoned tofu or tempeh with veggies for a high-protein stir fry! Soy milk and silken tofu are great to add to creamy smoothies and TVP makes an amazing beef replacement in tacos!
7. Rolled Oats (Oatmeal)
Porridge is a favorite food of mine because it’s high in protein and so delicious! A cup of rolled oats contains about 10 grams of protein and a lot of fiber, making it a filling meal to start off your day. If oatmeal isn’t to your liking, you can use rolled oats in several other ways as well. Add them to your smoothies for a creamy texture or grind them and use them as flour for baking or as a gluten-free replacement for breadcrumbs.
These tiny seeds are even smaller than quinoa, but just as wonderfully full of protein. At 7 grams of protein per cup, this ancient grain is a healthy alternative to other grains in your diet. It’s also high in B vitamins and iron! Try cooking it up as a porridge in the morning with a splash of dairy-free milk or eating it plain as a side dish in the place of rice.
9. Seitan / Wheat Gluten
Wheat gluten is the main ingredient in most faux meat products and carries a ton of protein. This ancient Chinese food dates back centuries and is a great meat replacer in your diet if you are just transitioning into eating less meat. It can be baked, boiled, steamed, and fried. Simply season it as you would any main dish and cook to your liking. If you have a wheat or gluten sensitivity, then this food is definitely not for you, but, for those that don’t, this protein-packed food is worth a try.
10. Black Beans
No burrito is really complete without these delicious, protein-packed beans. Full of magnesium, copper, and folate, black beans are a great addition to every diet. Half a cup contains 7 grams of protein and nearly 15 grams of fiber. Add black beans to your soups, burritos, casseroles, and salads for a delicious and nutritious treat. They are also unbelievably delicious when used in place of pinto beans when making refried beans.
- Hemp Seeds
- Artichoke Hearts
Now that you’ve got a few suggestions under your belt, I hope that you’ll give some of these delicious plant-based proteins a try!