By Liz M.
January 1, 2013 is a very special day to me, a day that changed my life forever. It is the day I took control of my health by going vegan. It’s been almost two years, and I have to say that I’ve never felt (or looked) better! Weight loss, increased energy, restful sleep, improved menstrual cycles, glowing skin, thicker hair and nails are just some of the wonderful side effects I’ve personally experienced. Oh, and I became a FOODIE! There are so many delicious vegan foods out there that I never heard of while I was busy being a carnivore.
One question I get asked nearly every day is “Where do you get your protein from?” So, I’m here today to happily share with you my top 5 favorite vegan protein sources!
1. Quinoa (Keen-wah)- Quinoa is a naturally low fat, gluten free super food. It is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids that we need for muscle recovery. It’s also high in fiber and minerals. Although it may taste like a grain, it’s technically a seed. It’s easy to prepare (cook it like rice) and your dish options are endless. For example, it can be used as an alternative to oatmeal in the morning, added into salads for lunch, and made into a burger for dinner! There are plenty of recipes online, so give it a try!
2. Mung Beans- This bean has been used for thousands of years in Asia and India for its medicinal properties, as well as cuisine. It’s high in protein (20 grams per 1/2 cup), low in calories, rich in fiber, low glycemic, and works as an anti-inflammatory. According to Ayurvedic medicine, it can be used as a cleanse! This bean cooks quickly, and has a sweet yet nutty flavor.
3. Hemp- This super food is considered a complete protein, and contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in each serving. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 10 grams of protein! Hemp seeds can be used in baked goods, sprinkled in salads, or blended into smoothies. You can also purchase it as a protein powder. I personally love hemp protein powder because it leaves me feeling satisfied and nourished without any heaviness/bloating that I’ve experienced with other protein powders such as whey.
*Hemp seeds come from the same plant as marijuana, but do NOT contain THC.*
4. Sprouted watermelon seeds- Watermelon seeds are packed with B vitamins, amino acids, minerals and protein! One ounce of seeds contain 11 grams of protein. They are delicious sprinkled over salad. If you don’t have a health food store in your area, they can be purchased online at www.goraw.com.
5. Lentils- Although small in size, this super food legume is full of nutrition! Some of the health benefits include weight loss, increased energy, and lower cholesterol. They also stabilize blood sugar and contain anti aging properties. Lentils have approximately 18 grams of protein per cup. There are a variety of lentils- brown, black, green and red. They all taste slightly different. I enjoy using the red and green lentils as part of my veggie stew, and love cold black lentils sprinkled on my salads, or mixed in with quinoa.
There you have it! I hope you enjoy these healthy protein sources just as much as I do!