Another great source for protein in a plant-based diet is the powerful Chia Seed. In fact the word Chia is Mayan for strength. How's that for power? Now the amazing thing about this tiny seed is how little of it is needed to deliver a lot of nutrients to our bodies. The serving size is 2 tablespoons (one ounce). Here's what you get from that:
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fat: 9 grams (but 5 of these are omega-3…wow!!)
- Calcium: 18% of recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Manganese: 30% of the RDA
- Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
- Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
In addition to the vitamins and minerals, Chia Seeds are a great source of antioxidants. They are high in fiber and will absorb 10 - 12 times their weight in water, allowing you to feel full and suppress your appetite; so these are great if you need to lose a few pounds.
The best part is Chia Seeds are really easy to incorporate into your diet. You just need to add them, raw, to your existing food. They are a bit bland tasting so you can add them to cereal, vegetables or rice dishes, or even to a bowl of sliced fruit. You can soak them in juice or water and they will turn into a gel, or you can mix into porridge, pudding, smoothies or add them to baked goods. Easy right?
April, a friend of mine, posted a question (actually several questions) on facebook and I thought that more of you might have the same questions when considering a Vegetarian or Vegan diet. She was asking how to get protein into her diet without resorting to eggs or meat. This is a classic how do I start kind of question. Fear not it is easier than you can imagine.
While animals have been a source of protein for most of history, there are very good alternatives that provide the same protein and micro-nutrients without all the harmful things (like cholesterols, antibiotics, growth hormones and unhealthy fats) that are found in meat.
For example, legumes (beans) are a good source of protein especially when served with rice. Nuts and other grains are also good sources as is tofu. But my go-to source is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah). This amazing superfood is chocked full of the things that a human body needs to become and stay healthy.
A one cup serving of cooked Quinoa contains the following nutrients:
- Protein: 8 grams (with all the essential Amino Acids)
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Manganese: 58% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
- Magnesium: 30% of RDA
- Phosphorus: 28% of RDA
- Folate: 19% of RDA
- Copper 18% of RDA
- Iron: 15% of RDA
- Zinc: 13% of RDA
Here's an interesting tidbit; NASA is considering quinoa as the crop to grow in outer space because of its high nutritional value and easy of growing it.
Now beyond these vitamins and minerals, Quinoa contains Quercetin and Kaempferol which are flavonoids (plant based antioxidants). Quinoa has more antioxidant content than even cranberries! It is also gluten-free so it is safe for folks who are gluten intolerant. It has a low Glycemic Index which will help with controlling blood sugar.
Quinoa is easy to prepare and can be added to salads or soups, or enjoyed as a side dish. Here's how to prepare:
- Bring two cups of water to a boil
- Add one cup of throughly rinsed Quinoa
- Boil for 15 - 20 minutes