It’s 2017: Let’s Plant-Based-Protein-It-Up! Ya Dig? (No Pun Intended!)

It’s 2017: Let’s Plant-Based-Protein-It-Up! Ya Dig? (No Pun Intended!)

HEY BABES!

<3

OKAY, so I know this one has been a long-time coming, but it took me a while to put together because I wanted to compile all the recipe ideas from the blog that fit the foods I was recommending & lord knows, there’s a lot where that came from!!

BUT ANYWAY… today’s the day. It’s finally here!

And I know you munchkins are probably excited about this one because it’s one you asked for & I delivered (OBVIIII – I adore you guys!). 

NOW, without further ado, let’s get right into it. LORD KNOWS I’VE GOT A HECK OF AN INTRO FOR YOU before I get into all my fave plant-based protein sources & all my recipe recommendations! Don’t skimp on the introduction. The information is useful, TRUST ME!


First things first, let’s establish that eating more plant-based protein is not the same thing as being vegan or vegetarian. I am by no means vegan or vegetarian & I don’t intend on becoming it anytime soon. BUT, throughout my journey towards adopting a healthier lifestyle & after having done lots of research, I have made a conscious effort to try to incorporate more plant-based protein into my diet. You’ll understand why soon, PROMISE (depends how long I decide to rant for today!).

I just want you guys to know that this post is by no means my way of telling or persuading you to become vegan or vegetarian but rather a way to communicate to you the importance of changing up your protein sources & to open your eyes to the fact that many sources of plant-based protein can be beneficial to your health in SO many ways that the traditional sources of protein (such as meat, poultry & fish) cannot.


THE NITTY-GRITTY ON PROTEINWHAT ON EARTH IS IT, REALLY?

Before we get into it, what exactly is protein? Protein is basically the building block of life. It’s made up of amino acids that our bodies use in every internal process. It is crucial for our overall health & well-being, our workouts & recovery & our nervous system function. Without it, our bodies cannot function optimally & would not be able to sustain us long-term.

The problem with the view of protein in today’s society is WHERE we are getting the majority of it from: animals. I’m not here to tell you to stop consuming meat entirely, but what I’m here to tell you is that we can’t ignore the fact that meat consumption in today’s society is excessive & is causing many health problems. Part of the problem is that we’ve been taught to think that we NEED meat daily to survive. But, in 2017, it’s time to get rid of the picture of a dinner dish in our minds that shows meat, veggies & a whole grain. The sad truth is that SO MANY of the health issues caused by excessive meat consumption could be solved with simple swaps in nutrition & trying out new plant-based foods.

One thing you guys should bear in mind is that protein needs will vary from person to person depending on age, health status & how much exercise/physical activity you are doing. Not only do protein needs vary from person to person but they may even vary individually from day to day, based on how on-the-go you are, how much you exercise & how much strain you are putting on your body. BASICALLY, the harder you’re asking your body to work to sustain you, the more protein it will need!

Some signs that you might be lacking protein in your diet are:

  • feeling mentally/physically exhausted (if you find you always need a daytime nap, odds are you’re not fuelling your body enough to sustain you throughout the day);
  • suffering from injuries/cramping & muscle soreness often;
  • losing muscle or feeling like you are unable to build it;
  • losing hair;
  • having brittle/breaking/weak nails;
  • suffering from frequent headaches, fainting & nausea;
  • feeling cranky, anxious, moody or depressed.

Keep in mind that our bodies are built, designed & biologically programmed to survive. Symptoms like the ones listed above are the way your body communicates with you to ask you for FUEL. If it doesn’t have enough of what it needs to thrive, it will do its best to get what it needs with what it has. This is one of the reasons why if you find you’re having a hard time building/retaining muscle, you most probably aren’t getting enough protein and your body is taking it from where it can, a.k.a. your muscle tissue.  If you find your nails are flimsy, you’re losing hair, your body may be holding onto whatever protein it has stored in the “bank” versus using what little it has to create new nails or fuller hair.

THIS IS ALSO WHY NUTRIENT-RICH WHOLE FOODS REALLY ARE THE ONLY WAY TO GO & why true health comes from these kinds of foods, as opposed to foods that fit a certain “mould”, “diet” or “restriction”. It’s not because you’re labelled vegan, vegetarian or carnivore that you’re healthier than your neighbour. Many people go vegan and consume a lot of processed, packaged foods that are void of nutrients and full of sugar & the same holds true for people who claim to get the majority of their good protein from meat. At the end of the day, IT’S ALL ABOUT CONSUMING WOLE FOODS. Excellent nutrition is truly about balance & variety


PLANT-BASED PROTEIN? HUH?!

Okay, rant over. WHAT ON EARTH IS PLANT-BASED PROTEIN THOUGH, RIGHT? Protein comes from animals, right? WRONG.

Plant-based protein sources are proteins that are not derived from meat, poultry, dairy, eggs, fish or seafood. They’re the form of protein that all vegans (& some vegetarians) rely on to get in their daily doses & YES, they survive JUST FINE (if not better than the token carnivorous person) & are in fact, VERY HEALTHY!


There are LOADS of plant-based protein sources but I’ll speak to you about the ones that I’ve tried (& tested, oops I mean, TASTED) & incorporated into my diet ever since I’ve been making a conscious effort to go “more plant-based”. And after each one I speak about… THE BEST PART... I’ll link a lot of (or all, if there aren’t 29831038140392) recipes that contain these ingredients to give you guys some inspo!!!

P.S. Feel free to use the search bar at the top of my homepage or on the sidebar of any other page on the blog to look up more recipes FOR MORE INSPO containing these amazing plant-based foods! (I wasn’t able to listen them all because there were just WAY TOO MANY!).

P.P.S. You’ll notice that in a lot of the recipes I’m sharing with you munchkins, plant-based protein is the main event, BUT there might still be some poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, seafood or meat as part of them! THAT’S WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY HERE, MY LOVES. I ain’t telling you to go vegan, carnivore, egg-free, dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian, gluten-free, sugar-free blablablala-free. I’m just here telling you to open your eyes up to the BEAUTIFUL WORLD OF PLANTS!!!!!!


TEMPEH: A fermented soybean that is made by a natural culturing & a controlled fermentation process. It can help reduce cholesterol, increase bone density, reduce menopause symptoms, promote muscle recovery & has the same protein quality as meat & contains high levels of B complex vitamins. Given that it’s fermented, it’s also super rich in probiotics!

A 100g serving will ring you in at a whole 18 grams of protein!

INSPO:

ALMONDS: Packed with tons of healthy fats, fibre, protein, magnesium, vitamin E! Helps lower blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure & lower cholesterol levels. They’re also very satisfying, filling & make for a great afternoon pick-me-up or healthy fat add-in in salads, bowls, or baked treats!

1/4 cup of almonds will ring you in at 8g of protein!

INSPO:

P.S. Nut butters & nut milks: I mean, if the nuts themselves are great sources of plant-based proteins, then it’s only natural that their nut butter counterparts be just as nutritious! If possible, try to make sure to go for raw organic nut butters that contain no added salt, sugars, fillers or preservatives!

ARUGULA: Yes, you read right. Arugula… a leaf… actually contains PROTEIN. Not only that, but this leafy green can help prevent certain types of cancers, is super high in vitamin K, which is beneficial for the heart, bones & skin, great for eye health, loaded with antioxidants & vitamin C, as well as folate, B vitamins & minerals & it’s also super rich in chlorophyll!

A 1-cup serving will provide you with 5g of protein!

INSPO: 

AVOCADO: I’m talking tons of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids, over 20 vitamins & minerals (some of which include potassium, copper, riboflavin, vitamin K, vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids), healthy, clear skin, protects the liver from damage & ailments, eye healthy, reduces risk of heart disease, helps with digestion & weight maintenance & contains tons of fibre! 

1 avocado will ring you in at 4 grams of protein.

INSPO:

BRUSSELS SPROUTS: Yes, another shocker! 1 cup will provide you with a good dose of iron & potassium! They also contain tons of vitamin C, folate & antioxidants! They are anti-bacterial & anti-inflammatory, help maintain heart health, healthy bones & nervous system & are a great source of fibre!

1 cup of these babies will ring you in at 4g of protein!

INSPO:

MACA ROOT POWDER: Just 2 tsp. of maca rings you in at almost 2g of protein! It’s the perfect way to add in a little extra dose when making oats, cookies, brownies, smoothies, Greek yogurt parfaits, etc (because you won’t even feel it’s there!). Maca has TONS of benefits, which I speak about in the posts I will list below but in a nutshell, it helps balance hormones, boosts fertility, improves skin & hair health, increases energy, acts as an adaptogen so it helps the body’s adrenal glands adapt to & better cope with stress & anxiety, helping the body reach its optimal state of balance (known as homeostasis). It’s also great for immune health & bone strength!

INSPO:

CASHEWS: Packed with vitamins, minerals & antioxidants, including vitamins E, K & B6, as well as copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron & selenium, all of which are crucial for overall health! They are also immune system healthy, bone healthy & may help cure certain types of cancers.

A 28g (or 1 ounce) serving will ring you in at 4g of protein!

INSPO:

CHICKPEAS (or garbanzo beans… REALLY WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE?): Okay guys, wait for it… 1 cup of these babies will ring you in at 14.5g of protein!!! These babes help control blood sugar levels, keep you fill & help with healthy weight maintenance, improve digestion thanks to the high fibre content, protect against heart disease & certain types of cancer & contain tons of essential vitamins & minerals!

INSPO:

CANNELLINI BEANS: OKAY GUYS, as if it couldn’t get any better than the chickpeas, these babies ring you in at a whopping 15.5g of protein per cup! They contain TONS of B vitamins, including B12 (which is one that most people are lacking & the reason why so many people often find themselves feeling tired, weak & lacking energy mid-day). They’re also a great source of folate, they help stabilize blood sugar, contain tons of fibre & iron & may help fight certain types of cancer.

INSPO:

PINE NUTS: These babes maintain healthy blood levels, are great for bone health, help boost metabolism & fight free radicals (due to their antioxidant content). They’re heart-healthy, help lower bad cholesterol & contain tons of vitamin E! They’re also energy-boosting & support a healthy immune system!

A 1-ounce serving provides you with 4g of protein!

INSPO:

NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Nutritional yeast is high in B12 & is also a “complete protein”. It contains tons of other B vitamins, iron, folic acid & fibre, is super low in sodium, free of sugar, soy & gluten! It contains all 18 amino-acids

8g of protein in just 2 tbsp.!

OH &… I mean… IT BASICALLY TASTES LIKE FREAKING CHEESE!!!

INSPO:

BLACK BEANS: Okay, you guys already know that this is a freaking obsession. Black beans & I are TIGHT AF. Like bestie-tight. Not only are they delicious & super versatile, but they’re also one of the richest sources of antioxidants & one of the healthiest beans of all beans/legumes. It’s actually their dark colour that indicates their strong antioxidant content & they also contain less starch than some other beans.

OH & don’t be fooled… it’s not because they’re beans that all you can do is cook with them. Black beans have become a staple in my kitchen when it comes to baking & let me tell you, once you try it, YOU’LL NEVER GO BACK.

A 1/2 cup serving of black beans rings you in at a whopping 19.5g of protein. NOPE. I’M NOT EVEN KIDDING.

INSPO:

TOFU: I personally don’t enjoy the texture of tofu & would much rather eat tempeh. BUT, there are a select few brands that I’ll eat because the ingredients are super clean & it’s usually smoked! That’s actually the best part about tofu: it can be flavoured HOWEVER you want it to be as it literally takes on the flavours of whatever you’re seasoning it with!

A 1 cup portion packs approximately 10g of protein!

INSPO:

QUINOA: Do you love rice but often find yourself getting bloated when you eat it? Same same. Quinoa is a great alternative because it’s gluten-free & it’s actually a seed-like grain but will still give you a similar texture & feel to that of rice so you won’t feel like you’re missing out! It’s full of protein, magnesium, antioxidants & fibre!

A 1-cup serving rings you in at 8g of protein!

INSPO:

PUMPKIN SEEDS: These babies are one of the most overlooked sources of iron & protein out there. They’ll ring you in at a whole 8g per 1/4 cup serving. They’re also a great source of magnesium & they’re a freaking delicious add-in for baked goods, granola bars or as a topping for bowls/salads!

INSPO:

PECANS: They’re super high in healthy unsaturated fat & a handful a day can help lower bad cholesterol! They also contain more than 19 vitamins & minerals, including vitamins A, B & E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium & zinc! They’re also amazing for your skin!

A 1 ounce portion rings you in at almost 3g of protein!

OH & that same ounce provides you with 10% of the RDV for fibre.

INSPO:

CHLORELLA: DETOX HERE. DETOX THERE. DETOX EVERYWHERE. Chlorella is a source of chlorophyll (I think the color is self-explanatory)! It’s packed with protein, iron, magnesium & tons of amino acids. Due to its tiny size, it has the ability to bind to heavy metals in the body, as well as unwanted chemicals… and LOW & BEHOLD… GET RID OF THEM!

In just 3 tbsp., you get a whopping 16g of protein!

INSPO:

FLAXSEED: OMEGA-3 FTW. Flaxseed is super heart healthy, anti-inflammatory, metabolism boosting, full of antioxidants, B-vitamins, magnesium, potassium, manganese, iron, copper & phosphorus. It’s also very high in fibre & helps with digestion! It can also help lower cholesterol, blood pressure & protect against certain types of cancer.

In just 3 tbsp., you get 6g of protein!

INSPO:

WALNUTS: Walnuts are a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids! They’re super rich in antioxidants, as well as manganese & copper, and an amazing source of the B vitamin, biotin, which as you guys know, is great for strengthening your hair & nails! They’re also good for bone health & strength!

In just 1 ounce, you get almost 4.5g of protein!!

INSPO:

TAHINI: You can use this stuff like you would use nut butters! It’s obviously a little less sweet, but still super delicious as a salty treat spread on rice cakes or as a dip for veggies! It’s super filling, an amazing source of iron, B vitamins, magnesium & potassium! Just 2 tbsp. will ring you in at 8g of protein!

INSPO:

SWEET POTATO: Amazing source of Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), as well as vitamin C, manganese, copper & vitamin B6. They’re also a great source of potassium, fibre, B1, B2 & phosphorus! They help boost immune system, are amazing for digestion/stomach ulcers & help maintain water balance within the body! A 1 cup serving provides you with a little over 2g of protein!

INSPO:

KIDNEY BEANS: A great source of folate, fibre & copper, as well as manganese, phosphorus, protein B1, iron, potassium & magnesium! They help reduce cholesterol, stabilize blood sugar, are great for memory, boosting energy & heart health! They’re also packed with antioxidants. A 1/2 cup serving rings you in at about 21 grams of protein!

INSPO:

LENTILS: These babies pack an entire 9g of protein & 15g of fibre per 1/2 cup serving! They’re a good source of folate, fibre, copper, phosphorus, manganese, protein, iron, vitamin B1, zinc, potassium & B6. They may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, lower blood pressure, help with healthy weight maintenance, boost nervous system health, metabolism & promote healthy digestion!

INSPO:

HEMP SEEDS: Hemp seeds are a complete protein, they’re super versatile & easy to use and can basically be put on just about anything! They’re also exceptionally rich in 2 essential fatty acids (omega-6 & omega-3). And they also contain GLA (gamma-linoleic-acid), which has been shown to be very beneficial to the health! They’re great for digestion, hair/skin/nail health & heart health!

In just 3 tbsp, you get a full 13g of protein!!!

INSPO:

OATS: OKAY guys, oats are a serious sitch. They have 3x more protein than brown rice with LESS STARCH + MORE FIBRE. They’re also an amazing source of magnesium, calcium & B vitamins & contains both soluble & insoluble fibre & BTW, the soluble kind forms a gel that helps lower cholesterol & stabilize blood glucose levels. It’s also great for healthy weight maintenance, contains more antioxidants than broccoli, controls blood pressure, may help athletic performance & may help prevent certain types of disease.

In just 1/2 cup of gluten-free rolled oats, you get 7g of protein!

INSPO:

CHIA SEEDS: I mean… they’re a freaking superfood. Do I need to explain? Kay fine, a bit. They’ll rank you in at 5g of protein for just 2 tbsp. Like hemp seeds, they are also a complete protein source! They contain tons of omega-3 fatty acids, fibre, antioxidants & calcium!

INSPO:

SPINACH: At 5g of protein per cup, WAIT UNTIL YOU SEE WHAT ELSE YOU’RE GETTING WITH THAT CUP. I’m talking: low in cholesterol, high in niacin & zinc, protein, fibre, vitamins A, C, E & K, thiamin, B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper & manganese… NEED I SAY MORE? It’s also great for balancing healthy pH levels in the body, lowering blood pressure, fighting acne & wrinkles, preventing heart disease, helping with digestion & maintaining low blood sugar. It’s anti-aging & helps strengthen the eyes!

INSPO:

BROCCOLI: For 4g of protein per cup, you’re also getting 30% of your daily calcium needs, vitamin C, tons of fibre & B vitamins! It’s also an amazing source of vitamin K, provides a substantial source of potassium & folate… AND WAIT FOR IT, due to its vitamin C content, it helps in the formation & building of collagen & is loaded with antioxidants, which are basically the body’s shield against free radicals. BUT YOU KNEW THAT.

INSPO:


NOW GET PLANTINNNNNN’!



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