Where do you get your protein? Do you just munch on grass? Do you get enough nutrients? How are you not starving all the time?
We get it. Thanks to a booming meat industry, corporate advertising, and a plethora of easy-to-access misleading information, much of the American population thinks you have to eat a steak every day to fill your protein quota. Or, at the very least, if there isn’t a visible source of animal protein on your plate, you probably are going to starve.
Most of us view plant-based eaters as malnourished hippies whose weak bodies somehow manage to live off of grass and love. But do most of us realize that some of the most powerful animals on the planet (elephants, rhinos, hippos and bulls) are herbivores? That’s right, these gigantic, powerful beings sustain their bodies with pure plant power. If these larger-than-life beauties can thrive off of plants, we’re confident that we can as well.
Not to mention, we have years of plant-powered radiance to prove it.
Let’s start by looking at how much protein we actually need, because that’s the first place we make a mistake. The public is constantly fed a message that we require an exorbitant amount of protein in order to stay lean, mean, energized, and healthy — an amount of protein that can only be met by adding a chunk of meat to each meal.
The truth is, however, that you only need to eat about 0.36g/lb of your body weight in protein in order to fuel a body that is functioning optimally.
The key to a protein-abundant plant-based diet is that not all protein is created equal.
Protein is composed of 20 amino acids, 11 of which your body produces naturally and 9 of which you can only obtain through food sources. The commonly tossed around term “complete protein” refers to a food source that has all 20 of these amazing amino acids. There are many delicious combinations that provide this complete source of nutrition. Just think of rice and beans, hummus and pita, or peanut butter on whole wheat bread.
What’s more is that the human body is amazingly proficient at utilizing its resources, combining all the food you’ve consumed over the course of several days to essentially keep a ‘store’ of amino acids it can pull from when it needs to form a complete combination of amino acids. Yes, your body really is made up of beauty and brains.
What are our daily go-to’s for powerful plant-based protein? We have a lot, here are some of our faves.
Greens – Your salad CAN be packed with protein! Every 100 cal of romaine = 6.5 g protein, a 100 cal serving of broccoli = 8.4 g protein, 100 cal of kale = 9 g protein, and 100 cal spinach = 13 g protein.
Oats – Quick, simple, and versatile. Oats have fiber and 6 g protein per cup. Add to smoothies and baking recipes. Or, just cook with hot water and add superfood toppings for a nutrient dense meal.
Nuts – A 1 oz serving of chia seeds = 4.7 protein, almonds = 6 g protein, pumpkin seeds = 5 g protein. We love to sprinkle hemp seeds on any salad for an extra dose of protein too.
Algae – Has some of the highest protein contents per calorie. Chlorella = 65% protein and spirulina = 60% protein. Consume in plant form, or add powder to smoothies and granola.
Quinoa – Full of fiber, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Also a complete protein with 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving (even NASA uses it to fuel their astronauts).
Beans/Legumes – 1 cup lentils = 18 g protein per cup. Garbanzo beans = 15g/cup, black beans = 15.2 g/cup. Pair them with brown rice, dark leafy greens, and fresh vegetables for the perfect meal.
Acai – You might not expect a berry to make the list, but these have earned their spot. These powerful berries have 19 amino acids, which means 8 g protein per 100 g acai — that’s more protein than an egg!
And now for an amazing protein-packed recipe: introducing the PRONUT aka protein donut. Aka your new best friend that’s really good looking and won’t give you any guilt (hi, gluten-free and vegan).
Pop these babies in after a sweaty workout for a quick yet powerful snack and you’re good to go! Muscle repair superstar ingredient here is the incredible acai, which also makes your pronuts a really cool purple color. And now for the final show stopper topper… wait for it….
~ E-D-I-B-L-E G-L-I-T-T-E-R ~
Sprinkle on and watch em shimmer.
1/2 cup Gluten-free All-Purpose Flour
1 package of Defrosted Acai Puree
1/4 cup of Your Favorite Plant-Protein Powder (we love Sunwarrior!)
2 TBSP Ground Flaxseed
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
1/2 cup Warm Water
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Edible Glitter for sprinkling
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and generously grease donut pan with coconut oil.
In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients [flour, protein powder, flaxseed, baking soda, salt] and whisk well.
In a separate mixing bowl, combine liquid ingredients [acai, water, maple syrup, vanilla] and mix well.
Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth and thick.
Evenly spoon batter into prepared donut molds; bake for 8-10 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack for remainder of cooling; top with “Peanut Butter” Protein Glaze.
Pronut Glaze Ingredients:
1/2 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
2 TBSP Sunflower Seed Butter OR Nut or Seed Butter of Choice
2 TBSP of Protein Powder (again, Sunwarrior rocks)
2 TBSP nut Mylk of Choice
Directions: Combine ingredients in a small mixing bowl or food processor; whisk or process until smooth, adding additional teaspoons of mylk as needed until desired consistency is reached.
*Sakara Life Pronut Recipe originally ran on S-Life Mag here.