High Protein Foods: Top Meatless Protein Foods
Protein is used by your body to build and repair tissues. The body also needs protein to create hormones, enzymes, and other chemicals in the body. You need to eat plenty of protein foods every day to keep your metabolism running, your energy level up, and maintain a stable blood sugar level.
So what happens when we consume the protein in our food? When protein foods enter the intestine they are broken down by the digestive enzymes. The intestine cannot absorb whole proteins so it needs to be broken down into single amino acids or chains of amino acids called peptides. The amino acids and peptides are then absorbed into the bloodstream and delivered to different parts of the body where they are needed to produce more protein or used to release energy. Usually, proteins are first delivered to the liver, where most new proteins are made. Excess proteins also go to the liver to be used as fuel for metabolism.
Your body’s requirement for protein and amino acids will depend on your growth and development, or whether you are injured or have an illness. Foods are often rated as protein-rich in terms of how complete their amino acid profile is. Meat and animal products usually score high in amino acid profile and regarded as high-quality protein. However, vegetables can also be regarded as protein-rich foods. If you are aiming for a healthier diet without any meat, you should choose these meatless protein foods recipes below.
5 Meatless Protein Foods Recipes
Cashew Noodles with Broccoli and Tofu – 24 grams of protein per serving
1 large head organic broccoli, stemmed and cut into small florets3/4 pound enriched egg noodles3 tablespoons prepared ginger soy vinaigrette, divided1/4 cup roasted, unsalted cashews1 (8-ounce) package Thai or Teriyaki baked tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
Boil a large pot of salted waterAdd broccoli and cook for 3 to 4 minutesUsing a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a large plate and set asideReturn water to boil and add noodles until al dente for 7 to 8 minutes and drain wellMeanwhile, put vinaigrette, cashews and 1/2 cup water into a blender and purée until smoothReturn the noodles to the pot along with the cashew mixture, broccoli, and tofu, and cook over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes more. Toss gently.Transfer to bowl and serve
Almond Protein Pancakes with Banana Cream Sauce – 29.9 grams protein per serving
3/4 cup whole wheat flour3 ounces vanilla protein powder1 tablespoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt1 egg1 tablespoon maple syrup1/2 teaspoon almond extract1 cup vanilla soy milk (or almond milk)1 tablespoon canola oil1/4 cup sliced almondsCooking spray for pan
For the Sauce
1 banana6 ounces nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt
For the Topping
¼ cup almonds, sliced
In a bowl, mix the whole wheat flour, protein powder, baking powder, salt, egg, maple syrup, and almond extractStir in the soy milk and oil. Mix in the sliced almondsPlace a skillet on medium heat. After spraying the pan, pour batter into circles (using about 1/4 cup of batter)Once the pancakes begin to bubble, flip them, and cook for another minute or so on the other side until golden brownTo make the cream sauce, mash the banana in a small bowl, and stir in the Greek yogurtServe three pancakes with a scoop of the banana cream sauce, and sprinkle with sliced almonds
Vegan Chili – 13 grams protein per serving
1 tablespoon sunflower oil1 medium yellow onion, diced1 cup shredded carrots1-2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced3 garlic cloves, minced1/2 cup bulgur, rinsed2 tablespoons chili powder1 tablespoon ground cumin2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (about 2 medium or 6 plum tomatoes)1 1/2 cups tomato sauce1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed1 1/2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to tasteChopped fresh cilantro
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and jalapeño and sauté, stirring often, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bulgur, chili powder, and cumin and stir until well combined.Stir in the tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.Season with salt to taste. Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro, if desired.
Red, White, Bean, and Basil Frittata – 13 grams protein per serving
1 tbsp. olive oil2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved1 cup black beans8 eggs1 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, chopped (I used purple basil)Salt and pepper2 oz. mozzarella cheese, cubed
Pour the olive oil in a small pan and add the tomatoes and beans. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and sauté for five minutes on medium-low heat. Bring heat to low for two minutes.Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pan with the tomatoes and beans. Add the cheese and stir. Cover and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the frittata puffs up slightly and is totally cooked on top.Place the frittata on a large plate, cool for a few minutes, cut into eight wedges, and serve warm.Makes 8 servings.
Broccoli Slaw Stir-Fry – 24.2 grams protein per serving
For the Stir-Fry Sauce
1 ½ tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar2 tablespoons ginger, grated with microplane
For the Broccoli Slaw Stir-Fry
1 ½ tablespoons sesame oil½ red pepper, diced1 zucchini, diced½ cup mushrooms, sliced½ cup baked or braised tofu2 cloves garlic, minced4 cups broccoli slawSesame seeds, to garnish
Combine the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and fresh ginger in a small bowl. Mix well and refrigerate.Heat sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat.Add the red peppers and zucchini, and cook for about 3 minutes.Add the mushrooms, tofu, and garlic, and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring well to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn.Add the broccoli slaw to the skillet, pour the soy-ginger sauce into the skillet, and stir to combine all the vegetables into the slaw. Continue stirring for about 4 minutes, or until the broccoli slaw starts to soften.Serve with sesame seeds.
Protein Food Source
Nut Butter 8g/2 tbsp
Nut butter is a delicious vegetarian protein source that you can eat every day. Aside from high levels of protein, it is also a good source of fiber, potassium, and magnesium. Nut butter is rich in vitamin B-6, which promotes healthy liver and improves metabolic process. If you are trying to lose weight, just eat nut butter in moderate amounts because it is a bit high in fat. You can use nut butter as a snack dip for your apples, banana, or celery. You can add more flavors and thicken your smoothie by adding nut butter.
Oatmeal 6g per cup
Oatmeal is a great choice for breakfast and snack because it is rich in fiber and protein. Just half a cup serving of oatmeal provides 5 grams of protein. If you want to put more vegan protein to your oatmeal, you can add milk, fruits, or spices. However, oatmeal does not contain all the nine essential amino acids but it has an amino acid score of 86, higher than wheat cereals or rice cereals. It is a good source of whole grains that help reduce inflammatory disease and maintain a healthy weight.
Greek Yogurt 10g/100g
Greek yogurt is a healthy protein source because it has lower fat content. It contains twice as much protein as regular yogurt. It can also replace sour cream because Greek yogurt has almost 5 times more protein. It goes perfectly well with Mexican dish as a replacement for sour cream. If you are buying Greek yogurt, choose the ones made from organic milk because it is free from growth hormones and antibiotics.
Eggs – 13g per 100g
Eggs are a great source of protein and it is also rich in vitamin A, E, and K, and a range of vitamin B12, folic acid, and riboflavin. You have to consume 2 large eggs to get the 13 grams of protein. It is a very fast and easy food to prepare any time of the day. You can cook it any style you want or you can have it hard boiled if you are on the go.
Beans – 15g/per 180g
Beans can provide 15 grams of protein per 180 grams serving. It is also a rich source of fiber, iron, and calcium. Black beans have been gaining popularity for its protein-rich reputation and its ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Black beans are also good for the digestive system because it has a good ratio of fiber and protein. If you are trying to lose weight, it is recommended to eat black beans because it has low-fat content. You can choose any type of bean you want and you can get at least 20% of your daily protein in a 1 cup serving.
Cauliflower – 5 g/per 180g
Cauliflower is a great vegan protein source for people who are trying to lose weight because they are very low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is also rich in vitamin C and K, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, manganese, and phosphorus. It is recommended to eat at least ¾ cup of this cruciferous vegetable every day.
Broccoli – 5g/per 180g
Broccoli is another cruciferous vegetable that is rich in protein and fiber. It is known to reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. You can always include broccoli in your veggie casserole dish, soups, and other healthy vegetarian recipes. If you want a meatless dish but you still want more protein, you definitely have to include broccoli.
Nuts – 6g/per handful
Nuts can be a good source of protein, especially almonds, which is considered as the highest protein-nuts. Nuts are proven to lower cholesterol and it is packed with nutrients such as magnesium, folate, vitamin E, and healthy fats. You can have it as your healthy everyday snack.
Spinach – 5g/per 180g
Spinach contains enough protein to make it to the list of the best meatless vegetarian protein source. One cup of cooked spinach contains 5 grams of protein. It is also a good source of vitamin A & C, niacin, zinc, antioxidants, beta-carotene, and flavonoids. There are different types of spinach, but the most recommended are the baby spinach, or leafy spinach. You can add spinach when you are making your fruit smoothie to increase its protein content.
Seeds – 6g/per handful
Seeds that are high in protein include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds, and flax seeds. Seeds are rich in vitamin E, zinc, fiber, and monounsaturated fats that keep your heart healthy. Studies have found that seeds can also prevent weight gain and the development of heart disease. It is recommended to eat raw organic seeds.
Milk and Soy Milk – 3.3g/per 100g
Milk and soy milk has the same amount of protein per serving. You can add more protein to your food by adding milk. Organic soy milk is a great vegetarian protein source and it is free from pesticides and herbicides. In order to increase your daily dose of milk consumption, you can use milk in cereals, hot chocolate, and milk shake.
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