Greens And Other Vegetables
You may never look at a side of broccoli the same again — for every 100 calories, it has about 11.2 grams of protein, while asparagus has 3.08 grams of protein in about eight spears. And, you might not even need to add chicken to that Chopt salad after all — romaine lettuce has 11.6 grams of protein per 100 calories. “Vegetables are great when eaten raw, alone, or in salads — and cooked vegetables should be heated at low temperatures to keep their nutritional value,” says Wood.
Nuts And Seeds
“Best when eaten raw, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein,” says Wood. Pumpkin seeds contain 9.35 grams of protein per ounce; chia seeds have 4.4 grams of protein per ounce, and one ounce of almonds (about 24 nuts) contains 6.03 grams of protein. Add them to salads or steamed veggie dishes for a delicious crunch, suggests Jarrard. Or, try nut butters. “They’re a great way to add in protein and flavor to raw veggies, gluten-free quinoa, or brown rice crackers,” she says.
High Protein Tofu
This vegetarian and vegan fave is made from coagulating soy milk and then forming it into the spongey white cubes. It’s also considered a complete protein — the closest to that of animal sources — because it offers all nine essential amino acids. “Just a half cup of tofu can give you about ten grams of protein,” says Jarrard.
Beans And Legumes
Because who doesn’t love a lentil? “Lentils contain a whopping 17.9 grams of protein per cup,” says Wood. And, a close second are black beans with 12 to 15 grams per cup. “Beans are a nutritious addition to salads or cooked dishes — and there are hundreds of ways to eat them!” says Jarrard.
Chlorella And Spirulina
See, fish isn’t the only thing out of the ocean packed with protein: “Chlorella is a form of algae and it's about 65% protein,” explains Wood. “Spirulina is a blue algae that's about 60% protein, about six grams of protein per ten grams.” How on earth do you eat them, though? “Both can be added to a smoothie, in a powder form, or taken in the form of a supplement,” she says.
There’s a reason why oatmeal was a elementary school breakfast staple. “One cooked cup of oatmeal has just over six grams of protein and is also a great source of fiber,” says Wood. But, don’t go for the flavored, packaged, and microwavable kind, which can be loaded with extra sugar. Instead, opt for steel-cut and add in your own extras such as almond milk, walnuts, and fresh berries — and add a drop of honey or a little Stevia if you love it a bit sweeter.
Quinoa no longer has the wow factor it once did — it’s now a common cabinet requirement, no matter what type of diet or eating habits you subscribe to. While it’s often looked to because of its gluten-free status, don’t forget the stellar amounts of protein it has — a 1/4 cup of dried quinoa has six to eight grams of protein. And, you can eat it as more than just a side dish, too. Try forming it into patties (mix in sliced spinach and add some breadcrumbs, onions, and garlic. Then bake them) or as the main ingredient in a breakfast burrito (instead of eggs).
Dairy-Free Vegan Alternatives To Milk
There’s a long list of yummy "milk" options out there now — from almond and hazelnut milk, to rice, hemp, oat, and coconut milk. Almond milk falls lower on the protein scale (about one gram of protein per eight fluid ounces) and soy is the leader — with about eight grams of protein for one cup. Whether you add it to your coffee, get it in a latte, or pour it over cereal, any of these can help bolster your protein intake for the day.