Protein is such a big deal if you’re following a well-balanced diet and has become a popular talking point in respect to popular diet trends. Making protein a part of your every day has many serious healthy benefits such as improving your immune system, aid the healing process of wounds, making your skin glow and increasing strength and muscle growth.
When healthy living springs to mind and looking for ways to get more protein into your meals lean meat and protein powders tends to be everyone’s go to’s. If your vegetarian, meat obviously isn’t going to work for you and protein powders can be heavily processed and full of sugars – however, there are some fantastic brands out there that are natural and free from nasties!
Protein powder is great and I love to use it in baking and in my breakfast smoothies, but recently I haven’t been using any. Honestly, one of the main reasons is because I ran out and haven’t got round to replacing it yet and the other one is because I don’t think it’s necessary to lead a healthy and happy life. This got me thinking about other sources of protein that aren’t protein powders or meat which I eat regularly and leave me feeling nourished.
Possibly one of my favourite vegetarian sources of protein, eggs are incredibly nutrient dense. Loaded with healthy fats, vitamins and minerals they are perhaps one of the healthiest and nutritious foods out there. I also love that they are easy to buy, really versatile and affordable. I always go for free-range eggs for ethical reasons and because I genuinely think they taste better.
2. GREEK YOGHURT
Greek yoghurt has a creamier and richer consistency compared to natural yoghurt, which I prefer. I always go for full-fat plain Greek yoghurt because it’s less processed and not high in sugar like some of the flavoured versions.
3. CHIA SEEDS
Chia seeds are one of the newest superfood crazes in the healthy living world and they are packed full of protein. As a natural source of protein and fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 oils they help to maintain your energy levels. For more details about chia seeds and their health benefits check out this post.
I’ve blogged a lot of quinoa recipes lately and you can probably guess that it’s one of my favourite foods. It’s not actually a grain but a seed and it’s incredibly versatile and can be used in so many different meal ideas. One cup of quinoa has around 8g of protein.
Plant-based protein is more natural than vegetarian meat alternatives because it’s less processed and lentils are a perfect example of this. Not only are they high in protein, but they’re also packed with health-boosting vitamins, minerals like folate, copper and magnesium.
Nuts in general, are a fabulous food to include in your diet because of the healthy fats, protein and fibre they contain. Almonds are one of my favourite things to snack on and almond butter just tastes divine!
6. COTTAGE CHEESE
Extremely naturally low-fat, cottage cheese is also high in protein. It’s normally given a bad rep for being boring, but it’s easily jazzed up and can be used to make high protein desserts and dips.
7. PUMPKIN SEEDS
Whether they’re sprinkled on top of your porridge or smoothie, in a trail mix or snack bar, pumpkin seeds are a great source of lots of different nutrients as well as protein. They also contain free-radical fighting vitamin E, manganese and zinc.
8. GREEN PEAS
Like lentils, green peas are actually part of the legume family and naturally have a high protein content. Throw them in a stir fry, mash them or serve them as they are – these little green gems are full of natural goodness.
I’m surprised that I didn’t mention these earlier because I always have a tin in the cupboard ready to throw on a salad, stew or to make some homemade hummus. Did you know that they make a great high protein snack too when roasted?
10. DARK LEAFY GREENS
Although they don’t even come close to legumes and eggs in terms of protein content, some dark leafy greens do content some as well as lots of antioxidants and healthy fibre too.