There’s more than just tofu and lentils when it comes to protein-loading a vegetarian diet. Globalisation and multiculturalism has increased our access and exposure to a variety of high protein ancient grains, seeds and flours like quinoa, black rice and Socca (chickpea flour), that not only boast near-complete amino acid profiles, but are loaded with fibre and rank highly in the satiety factor. Here’s a few meat free protein options any meat eater will happily incorporate into their everyday diet, plus delicious recipes from our Meat Free Week leading chefs, foodies and veggie lovers!
+ Legumes & Ancient Grains
Ancient grains such as quinoa, black rice, amaranth, spelt and teff have taken a vengeance given the rise of popular paleo and gluten-free type diets. Whilst these are great additions on the high fibre and complex carbohydrate front, many of these grains have high amino acid profiles, with amaranth being a complete plant protein! These can replace rice in many dishes (think curries, casseroles), and may be served hot or cold in an endless number of salads.
Socca or Besan flour is made of chickpeas and use in a wide variety or Indian, Middle Eastern and European cuisines. The French mix Socca with olive oil and water to create a flat bread - a popular provincial street food. Meanwhile Indians, Nepalese and Sri Lankan’s use Besan flour in an endless number of sweet and savoury ways, not to mention the classic Middle Eastern Hummus!
+ Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seed are well-known sources of plant proteins and contain a host of essential fatty mono-and poly-unsaturated fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Try:
- Nut and mixed seed butters on toast or as dips with your sliced fruit and veges (hello almond butter and celery sticks!)
- As crunchy toppings for your smoothie
- Nibbled away at your desk, on the train or on the run!
A variety of nuts and seeds may be incorporated into delicious dry herb rubs and seasonings like tangy Zaatar or Dukkha, or soaked and blended into delicious cashew cream for desserts.
+ Eggs & Tofu
Eggs and tofu are a staple in vegetarian diets for a reason – they’re versatile, cost effective and have complete amino profiles that go well at breakfast, lunch and dinner (yes – tofu scramble is a thing!).
Try marinating tofu before adding it to a salad, or substituting cream cheese with silken tofu in your next reduced-fat lemon cheesecake!
Eggs have endless uses, and can often be incorporated into a variety of recipes such as vege burgers, falafels or simply softly poached and laid on a salad. You would be surprised by the amount of eggs found in some dessert – our Decadent, Gooey Chocolate Cake recipe has 6 eggs!
+ Yoghurt, Milk & Cheese
While milk has dropped in popularity and nut-based alternatives are on the rise, it’s important to remember these are often very low in protein and essential fat-soluble vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D, which often lack in vegetarian diets.
If milk isn’t your thing, why not experiment with fermented drinks such as Kefir, which is cheap, low sugar and very easy to make at home! Home-made frozen yoghurt pops are also a great alternative to ice creams for dessert!
The variety of cheeses on this planet never ends, and can be as simple as tossing some creamy Danish fetta through a salad or grilling a halloumi, mint & spinach sandwich.
Dieticians often supplement malnourished hospital patient meals with skim milk powder in a number of milk-based beverages and yoghurts to up the protein. Flavoured whey based protein powders are also a delicious post-workout snack, afternoon treat, or breakfast on the run!