Plant Based Protein

Recently, I have been moving towards a more plant based diet. This is not because I have anything against traditional animal protein, but it has been easier to incorporate plant based proteins into my diet. I love cooking with plant based proteins and I enjoy the flavors as well. Of course my other favorite proteins are eggs, seafood, and chicken in that order. I’m not a huge fan of red meat other than the occasional burger, but every protein has it’s place in our diet.


8 Plant Based Proteins

  1. Lentils – These are legumes that are a balanced source of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. One cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein and almost 16 grams of fiber. They are considered a complex carbohydrate as well. Lentils are great as a side dish, in soups and stews, with rice, and on salads. Try my favorite lentil recipe here!
  2. Beans – These are also legumes that have a similar nutrition profile to lentils. There are a large variety of beans including black beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, and garbanzo beans. One cup of beans has about 15 grams of protein. Beans can be used in a similar way to lentils. Check out my favorite bean salad here.
  3. Quinoa – This is a gluten free grain (actually a seed) that is used in a similar way to rice. One cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. I love using this as my grain for any meal or making it the main ingredient. Try this main dish quinoa bowl recipe.
  4. Hemp seeds – These are amazing little seeds since they are complete proteins! Meaning they contain all of the essential amino acids. Three tablespoons of hemp seeds contains 9 grams of protein. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids. I like sprinkling these on top of salads or in smoothies and oatmeal.
  5. Chia seeds – These are a great little seed that do a great job of filling you up! They absorb water and turn into a gel-like substance perfect for making “pudding.” Two tablespoons have about 4 grams of protein. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids. I like mixing them into yogurt and smoothies. Try one of my favorite pudding recipes here.
  6. Nuts – Not surprising, but almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, etc. are a great source of protein and healthy fats. Typically, a 1/4 cup of nuts contains between 7-9 grams of protein. The best and easiest way to enjoy nuts is as a snack! You can always add them into a granola, eat nut butter, or grind them into a flour. Check out my favorite on-the-go snack here.
  7. Seeds – Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc. are similar to nuts. They contain about 7-9 grams of protein per 1/4 cup. Seeds have a more earthy taste than nuts, but are also simple to use. Sprinkle them on salads, use them in granola, or eat them as a snack. Try pumpkin seeds for a different snack here.
  8. Tofu – Or edamame. Soy foods contain about 20 grams of protein per serving. That’s a lot! These products can be marinated, baked, grilled, fried, turned into a sauce or burger. Try a few different recipes before you give up on tofu/tempeh. I love using edamame as a side dish or snack. I buy the frozen pods or shelled version.


Smoothie Boosters

Smoothies are one of my favorite quick and healthy meals. Whether you are trying clean out your fridge or are in a hurry – smoothies are the solution. Smoothies can easily turn into sugar bombs if you aren’t careful. It’s extremely important to add some protein, fiber, fat, and essential nutrients to the mix! Side note: protein powder is another great addition besides the ones listed below. I keep all of these in my pantry at all times. They are good to have on hand for a variety of other uses.


Top 6 Smoothie Boosters

1. Oats – Oats add bulk and fiber to your smoothie. Per 1/4 cup you get about 4 grams of fiber. They won’t change the flavor and are a great source of manganese, copper, biotin, and molybdenum. Molybdenum assists in chain reactions in the TCA-cycle for energy.

2. Unsweetened coconut flakes – Coconut adds medium chain triglycerides and a nice tropical flavor. MCTs provide about 10% fewer calories than long chain fatty acids which are rapidly absorbed and metabolized as fuel. Instead of being stored as fat they are used as energy. Unsweetened flakes cut back on sugar and calories versus the sweetened flakes.

3. Chia seeds – Chia seeds are packed with fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids help to decrease inflammation and promote glowing skin. They are responsible for cell membrane health which influences how much water is kept in a cell meaning healthier skin.

4. Ground flaxseed – Flaxseed is also packed with omega-3 fatty acids. Not only do they promote glowing skin, but they also promote heart health by lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol.

5. Hemp seeds – Hemp seeds are a complete protein. This means they contain all of the essential amino acids. Three tablespoons provide 10 grams of protein! They also contain magnesium, iron, and vitamin E.

6. Turmeric – Turmeric is a spice from the ginger family. It adds an earthy, spicy flavor to your smoothie. It is a great source of antioxidants leading to anti-inflammatory effects inside the body. Antioxidants help fight free radicals which can decreased your risk for cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.


Super Seed Energy Bites

super seedOne of my favorite things to do is take my time around the grocery store and finding new products to use. Remember… I’m a dietitian! Trader Joe’s always seems to be the best place to find things. This Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend is amazing. It’s a mix of sprouted buckwheat groats, chia seeds, golden flax seeds, shelled hemp seeds, sprouted millet, organic red quinoa, and organic amaranth. I’ve talked about chia seeds and quinoa before so let’s chat about the other ingredients.

Buckwheat groats and amaranth are pseudocereals related to quinoa. They are both loaded with minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which can improve heart health! Millet is an actual grain that is high in copper, phosphorous, and magnesium. Flax seeds are found in this blend and added on the outside of these energy bites. These seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fiber to help improve digestive health. Last, but not least are hemp seeds which I believe are the real star of this mix. They are one of the few plant-based complete proteins blended with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Super Seed Energy Bites


  • 1 cup pitted datesDSC_0604
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp Super Seed & Ancient Grain Blend
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder


In a blender or food processor, add cashews and chop until they are in small pieces. Remove nuts and set aside. Add 1/2 cup of dates and juice of 1 lemon to the food processor and chop until well combined. Add the remaining dates and lemon juice. Chop again. Place mixture in a medium bowl. Add chopped cashews, shredded coconut, and super seed blend. Stir together until everything is well mixed. Roll into small balls (makes 8-10) and set on wax or parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together ground flax seed and unsweetened cocoa powder. Take each ball and roll in the flax seed and cocoa powder mixture until completely coated. Once all balls are coated, place in the refrigerator to set.

Number of servings: 4-5 | Serving size: 2 balls
Calories: 242, total fat: 13 g, total carbohydrates: 37 g, dietary fiber: 6 g, sugars: 23 g, protein: 5 g


What is your favorite super seed and how do you like to use it? Tell me below!