NUTRITION

Five Easy Ways to Add More Protein to Your Vegan Diet

Think vegan food is protein deficient? These plant-based superfoods prove otherwise.

By ADARSH SONI

Five Easy Ways to Add More Protein to Your Vegan Diet

“Proteins are nitrogen-containing substances that are formed by amino acids. They serve as the major structural component of muscle and other tissues in the body. In addition, they are used to produce hormones, enzymes and hemoglobin,” states a research paper by Dr Jay R. Hoffman, The Department of Health and Exercise Science, The College of New Jersey, Ewing, New Jersey, USA. In other terms—protein is extremely vital for the sustenance of the human body. And while we’re conditioned to believe that meat and dairy are necessary to fulfil a balanced diet, the consensus is rapidly shifting as more and more people explore the benefits of a strictly plant-based diet. In fact, several plant-based foods contain adequate amounts of all essential amino acids which make up protein. Here are five of them:

 

 

 


1. Tofu

Starting off with the most popular source of vegan protein, tofu is prepared by coagulating soy milk and then pressing the resulting curd into solid white blocks which are similar to cottage cheese. Tofu is extremely versatile and easy to use. Since it has a subtle flavour, it can be used in savoury and sweet dishes alike. It is often seasoned or marinated to suit the dish and its flavours, and due to its spongy texture it absorbs flavours well. A 100 gram serving of tofu contains 8 grams of protein.

 

 

2. Amaranth

 

A distant relative of the more widely known quinoa, amaranth is a grain that can be cooked in a variety of ways. Boil it to make porridge or toast the grains to prepare homemade protein bars. Amaranth has a slightly nutty taste and retains its crunch even when cooked. When ground into a flour, amaranth can also be used as a gluten-free alternative to wheat flour. Known in India as Rajgira, it is also an excellent source of manganese, magnesium phosphorus, and iron. A 100 gram serving of cooked amaranth contains 4 grams of protein as compared to a 100 ml cup of milk which contains around 3.5 grams.

 

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3. Seitan

 

Seitan is a high-protein and low-carb meat replacement made from gluten, which is the main protein of wheat. Flour dough is thoroughly washed with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass, which is then cooked before being eaten. Seitan can be easily steamed or fried and used as a vegan alternative in dishes that usually call for meat. 100 grams of cooked seitan contains a whopping 75 grams of protein as compared to the same quantity of chicken which has around 30 grams.

 

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4. Spirulina

 

One quick look at #Spirulina on Instagram will show you how popular this supplement is among the vegan community. Extracted from a blue-green algae, spirulina is easily available in the form of both nutritional powders and tablets. It can be easily blended into smoothies, soups, puddings or tossed into salads for an easy dose of protein. Along with being a source of complete protein, spirulina is also rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, copper, and iron. Just one tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina contains around 4 grams of protein.

 

 

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5. Nutritional Yeast

Another trendy alternative to animal protein, nutritional yeast is derived from a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Commercially, it comes in the form of a yellow coloured powder that’s extremely easy to use. Another fun fact about this supplement is that it has a distinct Umami flavour that can lend a rich, fermented cheese like flavour to vegan food. One tablespoon (7 grams) of nutritional yeast contains 3 grams of protein.

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