If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, or simply want to limit meat in your diet, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut with protein sources. The most common problem is relying too heavily on vegetarian classics like beans, lentils and tofu. If you’re looking to mix things up a bit, here are some new and different ways to get plant-based proteins into your diet:
- Guava – Guava is a nutrition-packed tropical fruit that offers about 4 grams of protein per cup and contains three times as much vitamin C as a large orange. It’s rich in fiber, lycopene, B-complex vitamins, manganese, potassium and vitamin A.
- Broccoli – While everyone knows that broccoli is packed full of vitamins, minerals and beneficial phytonutrients, you may be surprised to learn that it’s a rich source of protein too. One cup of chopped broccoli containing about 4 grams of lean protein.
- Chia Seeds – Just about any food can become a rich source of protein if you garnish it with a tablespoon or two of Chia seeds. Two tablespoons of these seeds are packed with 3 grams of protein, as well as an array of vitamins, minerals and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Their delicate, nutty flavor makes them a great addition to baked goods, soups, salads, yogurt and cereal.
- Potatoes – Potatoes, generally thought of as a starch, are also a rich source of protein, with a large potato providing about 6 grams. Top a baked potato with veggies, like broccoli or asparagus, and sprinkle them with chia seeds for even more protein, and be sure to eat the skin for its minerals and fiber.
- Quinoa – If you’re looking for a tasty, protein-rich side dish then consider replacing rice with quinoa. It’s also a great hot breakfast alternative to oatmeal. Half a cup of cooked quinoa contains about 4 grams of protein and all essential amino acids.
- Buckwheat – Another alternative to traditional grains, 1 cup of cooked buckwheat contains nearly 6 grams of protein. It’s a great source of fiber and minerals that includes potassium, magnesium and iron. Use buckwheat in kernel form – known as groats – for a side dish, or use buckwheat flour in pancakes and baked goods.
- Wheat Germ – Packed with about 3 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons, what germ can be used in baked goods or sprinkled on cereals or yogurt to boost not only protein, but B-vitamins, vitamin E, potassium and fiber in your diet.
- Sun Dried Tomatoes – Offering nearly 4 grams of protein in a ½ cup serving, sun dried tomatoes are a versatile food that can be used in soups, sauces, pasta dishes and an array of other recipes. It also delivers a range of other nutrients including potassium, lycopene, fiber and vitamin K.
- Pistahcios – Reaching for pistachios when you’re craving a crunchy snack will give 6 grams of protein per ounce – more than most nuts. They’re also great chopped and sprinkled on salads, yogurt or ice cream.
Other protein-rich foods that can offer variety in a plant-based diet include kale, green peas, Wakame seaweed, hemp seeds and asparagus. Try mixing and matching these foods with traditional vegetarian fare to meet your protein requirements without risking bean burnout.