1.19.2017

Your Guide to Plant Based Protein

People often ask how a plant based diet ensures enough protein intake. I’ve got you covered with tons of plant based protein options + meals

debunking protein myth and veganism

Many people say their biggest hang up to eating more plants is that they’re afraid they won’t get enough protein. Did you know that every single plant food contains protein? While they might not all equal that of a ribeye, plants are loaded with protein. Plant based protein sources are abundant, and I can’t wait to share my fav plant protein sources as well as how to make filling meals using just plants.

When I started Simple Green Smoothies, I was in it for one thing: adding 1 healthy habit into my day. Once I got hooked on smoothies though, I started craving real food throughout the day. This led me to create 4 different meal plans that are 100% plant based and full of incredibly delicious recipes all powered by plant protein. I learned the incredible power of plants, and can’t wait to share that with you too!

Harnessing the Power of Plant Protein

Daily protein intake varies from person to person. It also depends on how active you are, and what other dietary concerns you may have. A simple way to determine how much protein you need on the daily is to multiply your weight (in lbs) by 0.36. That total is the # of grams of protein you need per day.

So a 150 lb person should consume at least 54 grams of protein per day if they live a sedentary lifestyle. While scientists are def at odds on how much protein is the right amount, they all seem to agree that more protein is better than less, and protein from whole food sources is incredibly important.

What Plant Based Actually Means

To be clear, I’m not vegan. I focus on eating as many plants a day as I can, and getting my fuel from whole food sources whenever possible. My family eats meat and a LOT of fruits + vegetables too. I bring my own carrots to grill and put on a bun during a BBQ and enjoy a hamburger with blue cheese after a morning of paddle boarding down the river.

Living a plant based lifestyle means choosing to pack plants into my day, and focusing on eating whole foods. This isn’t a diet, it’s just living my best life. To help me incorporate more plants into my day, I created a meal planner so I don’t have to come up with recipes on the fly. I wanna help you easily get more protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and more from plant protein sources, too.

Plant Based Protein Sources

Some of the best sources of protein available to us are members of the plant kingdom. The chart below shows you how many grams of protein you get in 1 serving of each:

Beans and legumes

  • chickpeas / garbanzo beans, cooked (1/2 cup):  6 grams protein
  • black beans, cooked (1/2 cup): 7.6 grams protein
  • pinto beans, cooked (1/2 cup): 6 grams protein
  • kidney beans, cooked (1/2 cup): 6.5 grams protein
  • lima beans, cooked (1/2 cup): 7.3 grams protein
  • lentils, cooked (1/2 cup): 9 grams protein
  • split peas, cooked (1/2 cup): 8 grams protein
  • peanuts or peanut butter (1/4 cup serving or 2 tbsp. peanut butter): 7 grams protein

Organic Soy

  • edamame, cooked (1 cup): 18 grams protein
  • tofu (3 oz. serving): extra firm – 15 grams protein ; silken – 8 grams protein
  • tempeh, cooked (3 oz. serving) : 16 grams protein
  • soy milk (1 cup) : 8 grams protein

Leafy greens

  • kale, raw (1 cup): 2.9 grams protein
  • collards, raw (1 cup): 1.2 grams protein
  • spinach, raw (1 cup): 0.9 grams protein
  • spinach, cooked (1/2 cup): 3 grams
  • chard, raw (1 cup): 0.6 grams protein
  • bok choy, raw (1 cup): 1.1 grams protein
  • Cabbage, raw (1 cup): 0.9 grams protein
  • romaine lettuce, raw (1 cup): 0.6 grams protein

Veggies

  • broccoli, cooked (1 cup): 5 grams protein
  • cauliflower, cooked (1 cup): 2.1 grams
  • asparagus, cooked (1 cup): 5 grams protein
  • peas, cooked (1 cup): 7.9 grams protein
  • mushrooms (1 cup): 3.9 grams protein
  • Brussels sprouts, cooked (1/2 cup): 2 grams protein
  • artichokes (one): 4.2 grams protein
  • potatoes, cooked (1 medium white): 4 grams
  • winter squash, cooked (1 cup): 5.1 grams protein

Fruits

  • blackberries (1 cup): 2 grams protein
  • blueberries (1 cup): 1.1 grams protein
  • raspberries (1 cup): 1.5 grams protein
  • strawberries (1 cup): 1.1 grams protein
  • pomegranate seeds (1 cup): 4.7 grams protein
  • oranges (per fruit): 1.3 grams protein
  • cherries (1 cup): 1.5 grams protein
  • avocado (per fruit): 4 grams protein
  • banana (per fruit): 1.3 grams protein

Whole grains and pseudo-grains

  • quinoa, cooked (1 cup): 8 grams protein
  • buckwheat, cooked (1 cup): 6 grams protein
  • amaranth, cooked (1 cup): 9 grams protein
  • teff, cooked (1 cup): 10 grams protein
  • whole wheat berries, cooked (1/2 cup): 6.5 grams protein
  • brown rice, cooked (1 cup): 5 grams protein
  • wild rice, cooked (1 cup serving): 7 grams protein
  • steel cut oats (1/4 cup dry): 7 grams

Seeds

  • Hemp hearts (1 ounce): 9 grams protein
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas) (1 ounce): 8.5 grams protein
  • Sunflower seeds (1 ounce): 5.5 grams protein
  • Sesame seeds (1 ounce): 4.8 grams protein
  • Chia seeds (1 ounce) : 4 grams of protein
  • Flaxseed, ground (1 tablespoon): 1.2 grams protein

Nuts

  • Almonds (1 ounce): 6 grams protein
  • pecans (1 ounce): 2.6 grams protein
  • walnut (1 ounce): 4.3 grams protein
  • hazelnuts (1 ounce): 4.3 grams protein
  • Brazil nuts (1 ounce): 4.1 grams protein
  • macadamia nuts (1 ounce): 2.2 grams protein
  • cashews (1 ounce): 4.3 grams protein
  • pistachios (1 ounce): 5.9 grams protein
  • coconut, dried (1 ounce): 2 grams protein

More Sources of Protein

  • Spirulina (1 tablespoon): 4 grams protein
  • Sprouted beans, peas, and lentils (1/2 cup): 4.6 grams protein
  • Nutritional yeast (2 tablespoons): 8 grams
  • Plant-based Protein Powder (4 tablespoons): 10 grams protein

If you’re ready to put these protein powered ingredients into meals, then keep reading! I’ve got dozens of recipes to fuel your day as well as fill you up.

Plant Protein FAQs

What plants have more protein than meat?

Per calorie, many plants have more protein than meat including broccoli and spinach. Since most of us can’t eat a lb of kale like we can a steak, then we mix these powerful

What are the 4 plant-based complete proteins?

Quinoa and soy-based proteins including tempeh, tofu and edamame.

Which plant has the highest protein?

Lentils contain 18 grams of protein per cup and is a powerhouse plant protein.

Protein Packed Plant Based Recipes

So I know you hear me when I say plants have protein, but how in the world do you toss all these ingredients into a meal that is both filling AND tasty? Well, challenge accepted. I typically have some Rawkstar coffee and a green smoothie (typically boosted with Protein Smoothie Boost) for breakfast, then a plant based lunch + snack before dinner.

Power Breakfast Recipes

While you can turn any smoothie into a complete meal by adding in a plant protein powder, the below recipes are packed with protein from the onset:

Berry Breakfast Smoothie (10 grams of protein per serving)

Chocolate Protein Shake (16 grams of protein per serving)

Almond Butter Smoothie (11 grams of protein per serving)

Cinnamon Date Smoothie (9 grams of protein per serving)

Banana Smoothie (18 grams of protein per serving)

Pumpkin Carrot Smoothie (10 grams of protein per serving)

Caramel Protein Shake (9 grams of protein per serving)

Brain Fuel Smoothie (12 grams of protein per serving)

Workout Recovery Smoothie (9 grams of protein per serving)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie (13 grams of protein per serving)

Vanilla Protein Shake (15 grams of protein per serving)

Play around with your morning smoothie until you find the right balance of protein, fat, and carbs to help you start the day off right. If you find yourself crashing mid-morning, then you need more protein + healthy fat in your smoothie. Try adding a tablespoon of chia seeds or hemp hearts to your next smoothie for an easy boost.

Tasty n’ Filling Snack Recipes

Snack time is often filled with empty carbs, yet it doesn’t have to be this way! I use snack time as another part of my day where I fuel my body with plant protein + healthy fats. Here’s what I like to snack on:

Homemade Granola Bars (9 grams of protein per serving)

Yogurt Parfait (7 grams of protein per serving)

Apple ‘donuts’ (4 grams of protein per serving)

Cereal Bars (9 grams of protein per serving)

Tamari Almonds (8 grams of protein per serving)

Protein Bars (9 grams of protein per serving)

Buffalo Cauliflower Bites (5 grams of protein per serving)

Zucchini Bread (4 grams of protein per serving)

Filling Lunch/Dinner Recipes

Try one of the below recipes for your next Meatless Monday and then let me know in the comments below how it turned out:

Hemp Hearts Veggie Bowl (21 grams of protein per serving)

Thai Coconut Soup (11.3 grams of protein per serving)

Thai lettuce wraps (16 grams of protein per serving)

Almond Butter Zoodles (12 grams of protein per serving)

Coconut Sriracha Veggie Bowl (11 grams of protein per serving)

Chipotle-style Veggie Bowl (11 grams of protein per serving)

Spiralized Taco Salad (16 grams of protein per serving)

BBQ Pizza (23 grams of protein per serving)

Black Bean Burgers (17 grams of protein per serving)

Loaded Sweet Potato (13 grams of protein per serving)

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms (11 grams of protein per serving)

Using nuts + seeds as toppings, in sauces, as well as in side dishes help boost your mealtime protein. So know that you’re full on plant protein knowledge, I’d love to hear your thoughts! What are you still questioning about plant based protein? I’m here to help!

The Protein Myth | SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

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  1. Shirley Carroll says:

    Thank you for this list of plant based proteins. I had made my own list to take shopping and realized I had deleted it from both my iPad and phone. I have just been diagnosed with Cirrhosis, following a few years of fatty liver, and Diabetes for most of my life. I ended up feeling really terrible, ended up in the hospital to be rehydrated, and really was starving my self because I couldn’t look at food. The new doctor, cirrhosis diagnosis, your liver needs protein…you must eat. I had lost 45 lbs and a great amount of muscle mass. I am sixty-four, a widow with two grown sons. My doctor said I wasn’t going to die, but I needed to eat better, and get exercise. I was still young and healthy so transplant is always an option. I don’t drink or smoke. So I got busy! My garden has broccoli, kale, and spinach, and much more…so I go out and graze several times a day. I started feeling better. I dawned my mask and went to the grocery store and picked up some dried lentils, nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt, my energy has returned
    somewhat, I am trying to do a few exercises, and my dog doesn’t look at me with such longing. Thank you. Sincerely, Shirley

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About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a realistic plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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