A plant-based lifestyle can be defined in many ways, but it has one thing in common - it incorporates whole, nutrient-dense, nourishing foods that come from plants - fresh fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, spirulina and other algae, etc.... or what I like to call true beauty foods.
The best part of this lifestyle is that it's not confined to any type of eating style (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, raw, paleo, etc) and provides a flexible blueprint (vs strict guidelines) that allows you to sculpt your own diet, based on what works best for you and your body.
You can get enough protein eating plant-based foods, but the key is incorporating high-quality plant-based protein throughout the day, making sure you're getting a wide variety of all the essential amino acids on the daily.
Amino acids are organic compounds that regulate nearly every biochemical reaction in the body. They combine to form the proteins your cells need to function - literally the building blocks that provide structure to your cells and tissues, including the cells that support glowing supple skin, thick hair and strong nails.
The human body creates 11 of the 20 amino acids, but the other 9, known as essential amino acids, come from the foods you eat - histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
It's important to note that you don't need all the amino acids in one meal to create a complete protein. Your body will help compensate, but it's incredibly important to diversify and eat a variety every single day to make sure your body has enough when you're lacking.
Adding one plant-based protein to each meal will ensure you get enough throughout the day, it's really that simple.
Here's a list of my favorite plant-based proteins:
*Note - some of the most common-plant based lifestyles include eggs, dairy and/or fish, but they all eat incorporate fresh fruits, veggies, grains, nuts/seeds, healthy fats, etc.
**See below for added tips.
HEMP HEARTS (ALSO KNOWN AS HEMP SEEDS) - one of my favorites. I sprinkle them on practically everything. They're rich in digestible protein and contain all the essential amino acids. They also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that improves brain function and reduces inflammation in the body. These amazing seeds have a nutty, creamy texture that's great on both sweet and savory dishes.
CHIA SEEDS - one of the most digestible plant proteins with tons of fiber and healthy fats.. They're a great source of antioxidants, minerals and amino acids, and the second highest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids (after flax). They create a thick, gel-like consistency when added to any liquid, which is great for intestinal health.
SPIRULINA - a superfood that's the highest source of plant-based protein by dry weight (65-70%). With an array of phytonutrients, enzymes and omega fatty acids, this blue-green algae is seriously amazing. It has a nutty and subtle sweet taste with a hint of seaweed flavor.
QUINOA - one of my favorite grains. It's nutrient-rich, contains all 9 essential amino acids and has more calcium than milk. It's a gluten-free grain that has a good amount of fiber, with a mild, nutty flavor that works well with both sweet and savory dishes.
LENTILS - have one of the highest protein contents of all legumes. They're also an amazing source of carbs and fiber, both of which you need. Incredibly delicious, versatile, fun to cook with and easy to season, because they go with just about everything.
NUTRITIONAL YEAST - is incredibly rich in B vitamins, protein and trace minerals like zinc, copper and selenium. It has a cheesy flavor but contains no dairy or active yeast. It can be used in the powder/ flake form or mixed with a liquid (to create a paste) for sauces and dressings.
NUTS - almonds (alkalizing effect on the blood), brazil nuts (richest source of selenium), cashews (zinc, magnesium and selenium), pistachios (potassium, iron and calcium) and walnuts (omega-3 oils) are all rich in healthy fats, minerals, vitamin E AND protein.
SEEDS - pumpkin (omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, iron), sesame, sunflower (calcium, iron), and my favorite flax seeds (highest known plant source of omega-3 fatty acids) - are all rich in minerals and protein.
BEANS - adzuki, black, chickpeas, heirloom, mung, red kidney - all beans are an amazing source of protein, fiber and carbohydrates.
ORGANIC TOFU/TEMPEH - are both complete proteins with all the amino acids with tons of fiber and healthy fats.
- Always soak your grains, nuts, beans and seeds to start the sprouting process. This will neutralize the phytic acid, making more minerals available, will activate nutrients and the enzymes for easier digestion.
- Always buy organic tofu and tempeh. Like corn, non-organic soybeans are most likely genetically engineered. Say NO to soy cheese, soy ice cream, soy oil and soy burgers - they contain unhealthy fats and other compounds.
- Flax seeds have to be ground for their nutrients to be absorbed, so make sure to grind them first. Store it in a jar in the fridge or freezer (to prevent oxidation).
What are some of your favorite plant-based proteins? And are you a plant-based eater? I'd love to know, so drop me a line below :)