plant-based protein sources Featured

10 Plant-Based Protein Sources to Add to Your Diet

Want to eat more plant-based? Find out some of the best plant-based protein sources you should be eating regularly for good health.

kale caesar salad plant based protein sources

One of the greatest misconceptions in the nutrition world is that plant-based diets do not provide enough protein. As an RD, I’ve heard this time and time again. But, a well-planned and thoughtful vegetarian or vegan diet can provide all the nutrients we need for good health, including protein from plant-based protein sources.

Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet

Nutrition research has consistently pointed to a plant-based diet to provide numerous health benefits. Whether you’re vegan or just experimenting with Meatless Monday, we can all benefit from eating more plants! Here are a few of the amazing health benefits of a plant-based diet:

  • Decreased risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, stroke, hypertension, Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, and some cancers (1)
  • Promotes weight management, prevention of overweight/obesity, and beneficial for weight loss (2)
  • Lower environmental impact than a diet that includes lots of animal protein

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Protein is an important macronutrient, as it is the building block for body tissue. Our protein needs vary by individual based on age, activity level, health status, etc. Including a variety of the following foods in your diet daily will meet the protein needs of most people, with the added health benefits of these ingredients!

Beans

roasted chickpeas

Beans of all kinds – black, kidney, chickpea, etc. – are one of the world’s healthiest foods. They are a starchy protein, as they also contain some carbohydrates. Because of this, beans are a great source of dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins and minerals, including iron!

Protein in Beans: 15 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Beans to Your Diet:

Lentils

coconut curry red lentil soup

Lentils are similar to beans, in that they are also a starchy protein source. One cup of lentils has a whopping 16 grams of dietary fiber! Lentils have a hearty texture that holds up well as a replacement for meat in dishes like stews and sauces.

Red lentils tend to break apart when cooked, so they are great in soups and stews. Green, black, and French lentils will hold their shape when cooked.

Protein in Lentils: 18 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Lentils to Your Diet:

Peas

peas plant-based protein sources

Peas are a versatile ingredient that have plenty of plant-based protein. They are similar to beans and lentils in that they also contain carbohydrates, and therefore fiber. Also, peas contain good amounts of several vitamins and minerals, notably vitamins A, C, K, and B-vitamins.

Protein in Peas: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Peas to Your Diet:

Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame

crispy baked tofu

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all foods coming from the soybean. Edamame is immature soy bean, and tofu and tempeh are products made from soy. In many Asian cultures, soy is a staple protein source.

For years, there has been swirling controversy around the safety of soy in our diets, but the research has consistently shown that soy is safe and very healthy for us.

Protein in Tofu, Tempeh, and Edamame: 20 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Tofu/Tempeh/Edamame to Your Diet:

Quinoa

quinoa plant based protein sources

Quinoa is technically a seed, but it tastes, cooks and acts like a grain. Unlike other grains though, quinoa is a good source of protein. Not only that, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. This sets quinoa apart from other plant-based protein sources!

Protein in Quinoa: 8 grams in 1 cup

How to Add Quinoa to Your Diet:

Nuts

popcorn trail mix

Almonds, walnuts, macadamia, pistachios, and more are nutrition powerhouses. They are rich in energy, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and protein. Nuts are one of my favorite on-the-go snacks to have on hand.

Protein in Nuts: 5 grams per 1/4th cup

How to Add Nuts to Your Diet:

  • Make popcorn trail mix for a healthy and filling snack (pictured above)
  • Add a dollop of nut butter to oatmeal or smoothie bowls
  • Sprinkle nuts on top of salad for a crunchy addition
  • Add nuts to homemade granola
  • Make your own mixed nut butter

Seeds

seeds

Like nuts, seeds contain an abundance of heart healthy fats. They’re also good sources of minerals, like calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper. Some seeds to add to your diet include sesame, pumpkin, and flax.

Protein in Seeds: 10 grams in 1/4th cup

How to Add Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle seeds on top of salads and grain bowls, such as on this Asian Cucumber Salad
  • Try using tahini in baked goods: these Tahini Brownies and Tahini Cookies by Kale Junkie are delicious!
  • If you bake your own bread, experiment with adding seeds to the dough for a hearty texture
  • Top yogurt or oatmeal bowls with pumpkin seeds

Chia Seeds

chia seeds plant-based protein sources

Chia is a seed, but it gets its own category! Chia seeds are a good plant-based source of iron and calcium. What makes them extra special is they are a good plant-based source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. We can’t produce these on our own, so it is important we get adequate amounts in our diet. So, since omega-3 fatty acids are mainly found in animal products, chia seeds are a great way to get these good fats if you are following a plant-based diet.

Protein in Chia Seeds: 5 grams in 1 ounce

How to Add Chia Seeds to Your Diet:

  • Try chia pudding for breakfast
  • Add a spoonful to your oatmeal
  • Make easy two ingredient chia jam
  • Bake some into homemade granola

Hemp

Hemp hearts are another good source of plant-based protein. Just like chia, they are rich in heart healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Similar to quinoa, hemp is a complete protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Protein in Hemp: 6 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Hemp to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle hemp hearts over your morning oatmeal or yogurt bowl. They have a mild, nutty flavor.
  • Try hemp protein powder in your smoothies
  • Make this hemp seed pesto by Walder Wellness
  • Add hemp to cookies or baked goods

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast, and is sold in flaked form. It is full of nutrition benefits, including B-vitamins and protein. In fact, it’s one of the only plant-based sources of Vitamin B12. Like quinoa and hemp, nutritional yeast contains all nine essential amino acids, making it another plant-based complete protein source.

Nutritional yeast has a savory, cheesy flavor that is delicious in pasta dishes!

Protein in Nutritional Yeast: 10 grams in 2 tablespoons

How to Add Nutritional Yeast to Your Diet:

  • Sprinkle over popcorn for a cheesy flavor, from Nutrition Stripped
  • Add to pasta dishes as a vegan replacement for parmesan cheese
  • Make a vegan Butternut Squash Risotto from Simple Vegan Blog

There you have it! As you can see, these delicious plant-based protein sources are full of other amazing nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Have you tried them all?

Let me know if you love this post by leaving a comment below, and check out Instagram and Pinterest for more healthy lifestyle inspiration.

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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which help keep Daisybeet running. I truly love all the brands I link to, and use them frequently in my daily life!

Curry Coconut Red Lentil Soup (Vegan, Gluten Free)

Daylight savings time is when the changing seasons really hits me. The days are getting shorter as the temperature drops. I actually like the first few weeks after we change the clocks, because I enjoy waking up when the sun is rising. But I know in about a month, I’ll be wondering daily why I live on the East Coast (anyone in California looking for a winter roommate)?

My body starts craving warming flavors and hot foods around this time, too. Some of my favorite spices to cook with in the fall and winter are ginger, curry, and cinnamon (and this soup uses all of these)! This recipe is super simple but filling, thanks to the addition of lentils. Lentils are a legume, and come in many different varieties. They are such a wonderful ingredient, and I find they don’t always get the attention they deserve! They are a great source of plant based protein, and are rich in nutrients like folate and manganese. Plus, they are extremely inexpensive. I’m often asked how I can spend so little on groceries each week and still eat well. A plant based diet actually lends itself perfectly to eating on a budget, because vegetarian protein sources are generally less expensive than animal proteins. Some of my other favorite affordable vegetarian proteins are chickpeas, black beans, tofu and eggs.

I used red lentils in this recipe because the cook quickly. They also soften quite a bit when cooked, which helps to thicken the soup’s consistency. If you’d like to keep a thicker broth, I’d recommend not substituting another lentil variety in this recipe. From start to finish, this soup only took about 30 minutes to make! If you’re looking for the coziest soup to warm up to after work, this recipe also is excellent to meal prep!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 can no salt added diced tomatoes (15 oz)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth (I used Pacific Foods Mushroom Broth)
  • ¾ cup red lentils
  • 8 oz baby spinach or chopped kale
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat avocado oil on medium heat. Add onions, cook for 2 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add garlic and ginger, and cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add spices and salt, stir and let cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  4. Add coconut milk, diced tomatoes, veggie broth and lentils. Stir to mix everything and bring to a boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes until lentils are tender.
  5. Stir in greens until wilted.
  6. Add lime juice and salt to taste.

This recipe makes about 5-6 servings, and keeps well in the fridge for 4-5 days.

I hope you guys try this warming soup recipe! Tag @daisybeet on Instagram so I can see your creations 🙂