Proteins are essential to a balanced and healthy diet. They contribute to helping improve your mood, brain function and body mass; they promote longevity, and help manage weight.
If you’re not a meat eater, it can be quite challenging to get the right amount, especially if you don’t know where to get them.
About 10 years ago I went to a dietician friend of my Dad’s who was worried about me barely eating any meat, and supposedly not getting any proteins. Well guess what Dad, this health professional said that you could get complete proteins in a plant-based diet, provided you combine whole grains with legumes! So there you go, as long as you follow a few guidelines, your body will get all it needs!
Kidney beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, chickpeas are the most common legumes. They are nutritional fireworks, they are an excellent source of fibre, protein, carbohydrates, and minerals. They’re low in fat and calories. Studies have shown that they can prevent heart disease, lower cholesterol, and help lose weight (mainly because they cure your hunger).
As far as whole grains are concerned, the most popular – and the ones I’ve used – are whole rice, quinoa, bulgur, oats, spelt and buckwheat. They are packed with protein, fibre, antioxidants, and minerals. I’ve read on many occasions that a diet rich in whole grains helps reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some forms of cancer.
So, if you do worry about having a too low intake of protein, here are some of the combinations you can make:
- whole rice and kidney beans
- quinoa and lentils (pick your colour!)
- bulgur and chickpeas
- peanut/almond butter on a whole-grain pancake
They are quite easy to add to your diet, and they’re inexpensive. If you buy the dried ones, let them soak for 10 hours (some would say 4, by experience I say 10!) before you cook them; otherwise it’s going to take you ages! Just saying.
You can also add some nuts and seeds for a bit of crunch and healthy fat. Needless to say that vegetables must be part of the fun!