For many of us who lead an active lifestyle, getting enough protein in our diet is a genuine concern.
Protein is an essential macronutrient for the body. It is involved in many metabolic functions and helps us to maintain our muscle mass.
My approach to eating and food is to eat what my mind and body craves. I avoid counting calories and counting macronutrients such as carbs, protein and fat. My experience has led me to believe this is a wholesome way of eating and living – one which improves my enjoyment of life.
However, this approach is not without context. Since I train a lot, I appreciate the need for protein to replenish and recover my body. So while I don’t necessarily count calories or my protein numbers, I definitely do make myself aware of what foods are rich in protein.
Regardless of your approach to this, it’s good to know what vegetables are high in protein. We’ve been brought up to associate protein with beef and chicken. But you can definitely reach your protein goals on a plant-based diet, especially one that is majority whole foods.
I’ve put together a list of five high protein vegetables that you should try in your next meal. Let’s fuel those muscles!
Protein = 11g per 100g
Edamame is an immature soybean found in pods. They are green in colour and are common in East Asian cuisine. You might have seen edamame pods served at a Japanese restaurant. At grocery stores, they are often sold in frozen packages.
Edamame beans can be cooked in a similar style to other types of beans. Edamame pods are often served as a side dish. Place the pod in your mouth and use your teeth to slide the edamame beans out. The pods are usually discarded afterwards as they are tough to chew.
Their nutritious yet snack-able nature is ideal for vegetarians or vegans who want to increase their protein-intake.
Edamame are also high in fibre and micronutrients such as folate, manganese, phosphorous and vitamin K.
Protein = 9g per 100g
Lentils are a type of edible legume. They exist in a variety of colours – red, green, brown, yellow and black. Lentils are commonly found in West/South Asian and Mediterranean dishes and are considered a staple ingredient in India.
The most common way to cook lentils is to boil them. They are used in curries, salads, sweets and can be used to make bread!
Lentils are highly nutritious and versatile, making them popular within the plant-based diet community. These little guys are so loved that there’s even a National Lentil Festival! The few star attractions include a lentil 5K fun run, lentil pancake breakfast and a lentil cook-off contest. So if you’re in Washington, make sure to check it out!
These legumes provide essential nutrients such as folate, thiamine and vitamin B6. It provides you with 50% of your daily iron needs.
Protein = 2.2g per 100g
A bit of fun history: Did you know that these spear-headed plants were an ancient aphrodisiac? In the 19th century, French grooms were served three courses of asparagus the day before their big (no pun intended) wedding night!
Asparagus is used in many dishes worldwide where they are boiled, stir-fried, pickled and grilled.
The composition of asparagus is 93% water, making them low in calories. They are rich in the amino acid asparagine needed for protein synthesis. Asparagus also provides an adult 40% of their daily value of vitamin K necessary for blood and bone metabolism.
4. Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Protein = 5g per 100g
Who knew these sun-dried tomatoes were such flavoursome in protein?
These tomatoes keep their nutritional value after their sun-drying process. The fruits are high in antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C and vitamin A. They provide 24% of the daily value of dietary fibre.
So use more sun-dried tomatoes in your salads, pastas and grazing tables! You can even purée them up to use as a paste and pesto sauce.
Protein = 20g per 100g
Famous through the love of hummus, chickpeas are on another level.
Similar to lentils, chickpeas are versatile and are incredibly nutritious. They are often used in salads, stews, pasta and falafels. Chickpeas can also be grounded up to make flour and in some cultures, they are used for dessert.
A 100g serving of chickpeas provide around 23% of the daily value of dietary fibre while providing healthy unsaturated fats. They are rich in folate, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Microwaving chickpeas are recommended over other cooking methods as there is less loss of essential nutrients while the level of essential amino acids and their digestibility are increased.