Vegans know that getting enough protein doesn’t have to mean relying on animal products. It’s definitely possible to get plenty of healthy protein from a vegan diet (and in fact, we may not actually need a ton), but it’s still an important macronutrient to monitor. Without animal products in their diets, vegans get their protein from nuts, seeds, grains, beans and legumes.
If you’re looking to boost your protein intake, you may be tempted to turn to a vegan protein powder for help. While there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, you’ll want to be careful. If you’d rather get your protein through whole foods, here are five super easy and sneaky ways to add protein into your diet.
Make Bean Purees
Bean purees taste great on pretty much everything, from salads to grilled tofu to pasta. They’re also a great dip for veggies and crackers. You can get pretty creative here—you just need to mash up some cooked beans, add olive oil and the spices of your choice. Think about it: Hummus is the ultimate bean (well, technically legume) puree.
Here’s a super easy recipe for you: Combine a can of white beans with two garlic cloves, two tablespoons of lemon juice and about ⅓ cup of olive oil. Feel free to adjust those ratios to your taste. Blend them up and you’re ready to go.
Add to pasta, spread on sandwiches or dip vegetables in it.
Add Chickpeas to Every Salad
Chickpeas are a marvelous thing. If you’re not feeling bean puree on any particular day, simply toss a bunch of chickpeas into your salads. They go with pretty much everything, and they have 15 grams of protein per cup.
Add Chia Seeds To … Everything
Go crazy with chia seeds. Seriously, they’re so good for vegans. They’re packed with anti-inflammatory omega-3s, which are extremely heart-healthy and nourishing. These healthy fats are beneficial for preventing a great number of chronic illnesses, not only because of their correlation with anti-inflammation, but also because they support the cells and hormones, which are made of fats.
Make a delicious chia pudding by adding almond milk and 1 tbsp of chia seeds to a bowl of frozen fruit and allowing the mixture to sit for about five minutes. Or, add chia seeds to your oatmeal. Sprinkle them on your salads. Add them to a glass of refreshing lemon water. Bake them into cookies and bars. There’s no wrong way to eat chia seeds.
It sometimes feels like peas have fallen out of fashion. The vegan food landscape is full of hip and trendy protein-packed foods like quinoa and tempeh, but one of the best sources of vegan protein out there is the good, old-fashioned pea.
Peas contain 9 grams of protein per cup. This is a little smaller than most legumes, so you won’t want to replace your chickpeas with peas by any means. Peas are more of a sub-in for your green veggie sides—they’re higher in protein than some alternative green veggies, such as spinach (less than 1 gram) or broccoli (about 2 grams).
Switch from Rice to Quinoa
This change is super simple. I’m not saying you should give up rice entirely, but subbing it out for quinoa is an easy way to get a little extra protein. Though they have similar flavor profiles and calorie counts, quinoa contains double the amount of protein of rice.