I sometimes feel like a "weirdo" for being a vegetarian. It is hilarious how people (who would never think about nutrition for themselves....Uh hum....BIG MAC) dig into how I am able to get all of the proper nutrients and vitamins while maintaining my non meat commitment. I am taunted and teased --even by members of my own family-- about "needing a burger" and laughed at by strangers in restaurants for ordering my "burger - no meat". There is an entire conspiracy against us Vegetarians and Vegans...if you don't believe me, read this article on 10 things you only THOUGHT were vegetarian!  I am sure that everyone has their own quirk...right?  Can't I be allowed to determine what I eat?

The good news is that I do have a few supportive people in my life who are now turning a page and are becoming "converts" to my way of life.... I knew it would happen because I am ALWAYS right! They do have some legitimate questions on how a vegetarian gets all of their protein and I would like to assure them and everyone else that it is possible to be healthy as a vegetarian. I am actually a much healthier eater now than when I was eating meat products. So, for them, I wanted to clear up a few misconceptions as well as give them a few ideas on how to get their protein!

Some Common Misconceptions:

  1. That I eat salads all day - BIG BUZZER SOUND! I eat so many awesome foods that don't go into a salad bowl.
  2. That my food is bland and boring - EVEN BIGGER BUZZER! I can honestly say that food tastes better! It isn't bogged down by grease and crud. It is real food and is seasoned with awesome seasonings. Being a vegetarian has forced me to eliminate CRAP from my diet and upgrade to flavorful foods!
  3. That I am lacking nutrition - BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION OF THEM ALL. I actually eat a rainbow of foods each having their own nutritional properties. With veggies, the more colorful they are, the healthier they are. Let's think about this realistically...How much vitamin c, a, and e are you getting from that Whopper?  Was there calcium in that there Nachos Supreme...oh, wait it was in the cheese sauce? I think I made my point.

So....Now that I have cleared that UP....

(and meat-eaters too! I don't discriminate!)

The USDA recommends that women get approximately 46 grams of protein a day and men get about 56...so you can see how quickly this adds up!

1. Chickpeas and other beans- One cup of chickpeas, blackbeans, or kidney beans has about 15 grams of protein. I use beans a lot in cooking, especially chickpeas because they take on flavors well. My favorite recipe involving chickpeas is my "Faux" Chicken Nugget! I also eat a lot of hummus and spiced toasted chickpeas. Quick and easy! 

2. Greek Yogurt - One 6 ounce serving of greek yogurt contains about 15-20 grams of protein! This one is not vegan BUT there are soy yogurts that pack some major protein.  Just one 6 ounce cup gets you almost halfway to your daily amount of protein! Check out this FUN way to use Greek Yogurt to make a dough for pizza or even for flatbreads! It involves only 2 ingredients and is so versatile! 2 ingredient Greek Yogurt Dough

3. Quinoa - One cup contains about 18 grams of protein. Quinoa is considered to be a "superfood" and is hailed as one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet! It is completely gluten free and is a complete protein! I use quinoa in EVERYTHING! You can have it like oatmeal for breakfast, like rice for meals, and even add it to breads and homemade veggie burgers.

 4. Almonds and Almond Butter - A handful of almonds has about 8 grams of protein! I toss almonds in breads, on top of yogurt, and simply snack on them! Peanut butter will have about the same amount. I have 2 tbsp of peanut butter with every meal! Here is a recipe for some Organic Peanut Butter & Chocolate Granola! So easy to make and packed with protein.

5. Veggies - I am a bad vegetarian and not too fond of a lot of veggies BUT there are a few that I love and it turns out that they are some of the best ones for me to like!
Kale -  2 cups has 9 grams of protein - Try these baked Kale Chips
Some others......
• 1 avocado - 10 grams
• 1 cup broccoli - 5 grams
• 1 cup spinach - 5 grams
• 1 cup boiled peas - 9
• 1 cup cooked sweet potato - 5 grams

6. Soy and other Non-Milks-  I am all about soy these days!  Soy milk contains 7 grams of protein per cup and most almond milks are the same. I am not vegan but I ONLY drink non-animal milks..I like the flavor better!

7. Breads and Grains - when choosing breads, go for those that are sprouted and/or whole grain.  READ THE LABEL!
• Oatmeal - 1 cup = 6 grams.
• Sprouted grain bread products -  about 7-10 grams per 2 pieces.

8. Chia Seeds - Chia seeds contain about 20% protein, a higher percentage than found in many other grains such as wheat and rice.2 teaspoons have about 2 grams of protein - which doesn't sound like a lot - but it is a high quality protein that easily converts into energy! This is so easy to sprinkle on cereal and yogurt!

9. Hemp - If you are thinking that I am suggesting that you smoke it....you are on the wrong blog! Hemp protein is  said to be the most complete source of protein in the plant kingdom!
It is quickly converted in the body to energy and is excellent for athletes. Hemp is available in tons of forms like milk, butter, protein powders, and oils. Use it for baking, smoothies, and in cooking. 
30 grams of hemp powder in your smoothie will give you about 11 grams of protein.

10. Tofu. Four ounces of tofu will get you about 9 grams of protein.Tofu is very easy to incorporate into your diet. It can be stir fried, baked, blended in a smoothie, added to homemade veggie burgers, etc. Even if you don't like the flavor of tofu....it can easily be hidden in a smoothie and will give it a super cream texture!

There are tons of other ways to get protein. Many fruits contain protein and eggs are also good. I just don't like eggs! Many veggie burger products are also excellent sources for protein but since I am also trying to eliminate processed foods (and I am cheap) ...those are a luxury item! Making your own veggie burgers will taste better, ensure there are no processed foods, and can be tailored to what you like or what you need!

If you have some other great protein sources...let me know- And please....if you aren't a vegetarian or a vegan...don't give them lip for choosing an alternative lifestyle. I am sure that they, in return, will not laugh at you as you eat your bacon burger!


Megan Colwell said...

While I'm not a vegetarian, I totally understand. I am "clean" eating and constantly get asked, "What do you eat then!?" Um...real food! Is that a "DUH" answer? Ha. Love all of your protein tips. In order to maintain my weigh loss I need to eat at least 75 grams of high quality protein a day. And I just discovered greek yogurt. Ohmygod, where have I been!? Thanks for hosting my ad. I put a link of your blog on my FB page :)

Karen said...

Great tips! I'm not vegetarian, but I love to eat healthy. Visiting from Raising Reagan.

hoppybottoms.com said...

Obviously, I love this post. People don't realize that eating this way is way healthier than shoving meat in your face because they "need protein."

April @ 100lb Countdown said...

Get tips! Thanks for stopping by Fitness Friday! Already pinned from http://www.100lbcountdown.com/health-and-wellness/ff5-new-horizons-mira-kitchen/