Where do you get your proteins from? If you are a vegetarian, you are quite familiar with this phrase.
It is such an illusion that vegetarians lack protein in their diets. If you see, many generations have lived well, lived healthy long lives on a vegetarian diet. If you eat good, seasonal, healthy produce you are a healthy being.
Do you know that one requires only 8 grams of protein per kilogram of the bodyweight? Example – if you’re 130 lbs (approx 58 kg) you should aim for about 90 grams of protein on a daily basis. Of course, The ideal amount of daily protein that one should consume varies depending on the age, gender, activity, health, total diet and other variables.
An elite athlete may be able to eat as much as 3.5 g of protein per kg of body weight without any side effects.
The fact is extra protein doesn’t actually increase muscle mass. What builds up muscle is exercise and load-bearing, and the body has ways of conserving its existing protein to do that. The idea of requiring additional protein in the diet to build up muscle, either through meat or supplements (protein shakes) is a myth.
We have done this in school: Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body contains protein. Protein is an important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Protein is a key nutrient for growing and maintaining muscles and keeping your skin and hair strong and healthy. However, only protein consumption without proper exercise will do no good.
I have been a vegetarian whole my life, mother of two kids. And I am doing good because I like to choose wisely. Here are vegetarian protein sources that have helped me and a few ideas on how we can include them in our daily diet.
Lentils and Pulses
Do you know that one cup of cooked lentils provides about 18g of protein and 15g of fibre? Beans, lentils, or chickpeas they are all an excellent source of fibre, are low in fat and high in protein. They are probiotics and are great for our gut health too.
Kidney beans are a chock-a-block with protein, carbohydrates and fibre. Paired with steamed rice and they make a perfect meal. I would choose a bowl of Rajma Chawal over any food any time. That’s coming from Punjabi upbringing.
Green channa, Green dal (Hara Moong), you sprout it and make it more nutritious. Sprouted pulses are great for fitness enthusiasts. Add them to sabzi, Chilla or pancakes. I love sprout salad with lots of lime.
Moong dal is considered, one of the best plant-based sources of protein and has a higher fibre content. During pregnancy and after my daughter was born, I had Hara moong almost every single. Mom used to make these roasted moong ladoos for me too and I still love these.
Some people do complain about bloating or digestive trouble after consuming pulses, especially red kidney beans and chickpeas.
Tip : Soaking or sprouting the lentils before you eat them can make them much easier on the digestive system. Remember to use fresh water to boil the lentils and pulses, never use the soaking water.
Studies have proven that those with the highest intake of lentils and other legumes had the lowest rates of diabetes.
Other than regular dal and khichari at home, you can do many exciting variations in your cooking using these pulses and lentils. Add them to the soup, use different pulses to make cutlets, slider and kababs at home. Add them to enchiladas and to the tacos, make salads.
Add them to there uttapam, idli, the chilla, dosa batter and prepare healthy breakfast. My mom makes wonderful dal ka parantha.
If you evaluate our dadi-nani recipes are more healthy when compared to modern foods. Somewhere we have lost the comfort and true pleasure of nourishing delicious food that they made for us.
Paneer- Cottage Cheese
Paneer is to India what cheese is to the rest of the world. High in casein, a slow-digesting dairy protein, paneer also offers you a good amount of calcium, keeps you fuller for longer and helps burn more fat. 100 g of paneer gives 8 g of protein and 8 g of fat.
The daily menu of Indian vegetarian family has hinged on to paneer dominating dishes. In the baji, sautéed, or grilled. We have a collection of paneer perps in Indian houses kadhai paneer, palak paneer, matter paneer, paneer kofta, paneer masala tikka, tomato paneer, add it to the cutlets or make paneer pakora. My dad makes the best paneer pakora. Though they are fried and a health-conscious person would not agree to the pakoras but you always have a choice to use air frier or grill the marinated paneer. Tandoori paneer is packed with flavour and is a complete health package if eaten in moderation.
Tofu, or bean curd, is derived from soya and just 100g of tofu provides 8g protein.
Tofu is a food made of condensed soy milk that is pressed into solid white blocks in a process quite similar to cheesemaking. It originated in China.
The story says, Chinese cook discovered tofu more than 2,000 years ago by accidentally mixing a batch of fresh soy milk with nigari (remains when salt is extracted from seawater). It is a mineral-rich coagulant used in the process of tofu making. It helps tofu solidify and keep its form.
Tofu comes in different densities ranging from soft to extra- firm. Tofu Firm, 349g Each type of tofu has a unique texture and consistency, it is important to know which suits the recipe. Mori-Nu Silken Tofu Firm, 349 Grams
Tips : The secret to cooking a tofu dish is – squeeze out the excess water, it helps tofu absorb the flavour from the sauces. It tastes great when marinated before cooking.
When you buy tofu, check the package and make sure it’s natural and free from pesticides.
Steamed or sautéed tofu with seasonal vegetables. Fry or shallow fry tofu and combine with garlicky sauces of your choice. Grilling and baking firm tofu make it more yum. Try silken tofu on a salad. Tofu in tacos and bao-buns makes me hungry.
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans.
Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame is immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads.
Like tofu, it’s made from soybeans, but with a twist: “The beans are fermented, producing bacteria that are good. The fermentation process also breaks down the carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting, making it an easier-to-tolerate option for people whose bellies don’t agree to tofu. Pan-fry it, and stir into pasta sauces, taco fillings. Protein: 21 grams per 4-oz. serving tempeh.
Do you know Makhana is the most frequently prescribed food items by dieticians?
Makhanas also known as Lotus seeds make an excellent high protein snack. In the northern part of India, it’s common to see people consuming roasted Makhanas as a snack or even in lunch. Makhana, Kaju, raisins are made like a gravy dish, for special occasions.
Makhanas are extremely rich in protein, calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Iron and essential multivitamins.
It’s popularly known as fasting food and its fat-burning properties. Therefore if you are on a mission to lose weight roasted makhanas can enter your list of foods. Mr. Makhana Roasted Makhana – 3x80gm – Himalyan Salt & Pepper
Broccoli – 100 grams of broccoli gives around 2.8g of proteins.
Broccoli is not only loaded with essential amino acids but also gifts you considerable amounts of Magnesium, potassium, Phosphorus and multivitamins.
The best-recommended cooking method for broccoli is steaming. The studies have shown certain nutritional benefits from steaming broccoli versus other cooking methods.
Add to a salad, or to your pasta. My daughter loves steamed and lightly sautéed broccoli with a hint of garlic.
Try combining sautéed broccoli with creamed panner on a garlic toast. Add it to the rice, Dalia (cracked wheat) or quinoa.
Broccoli is great when combined with tofu. Cook these on high flame with Chinese dry spices in a wok, like a stir fry.
Spiced roasted broccoli with yoghurt is a comforting zone for taste buds.
Bake broccoli with cheese in a casserole and make kids happy.
Nuts and seeds
Seeds are powerhouses of protein as well. They are very versatile and can be used with meals or as a snack to ensure adequate protein, and energy, for the day. Sunflower seeds, for instance, contain 3.3g of protein per 100 calories. Plus, they’re super versatile to use.
Like nuts, you could toss them into your porridge, cornflakes or muesli. Toast lightly and sprinkle as toppings on soups, or pop into stir-fries and salad dressings.
Sesame seeds, high sources of protein, make excellent supplements to plant proteins. My own favourite way to consume these is in crisp til chikkis or ladoos made with jaggery.
Chia seeds can be sprinkled over salads, stirred into yoghurt or oatmeal, blended into smoothies, or they can take centre stage: They plump up and take on a gelatinous texture when soaked in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy pudding-like treat.
Hemp seeds – 5g protein per heaped tablespoon
Almonds – 3g of protein for every six almonds
Walnuts – around 3g of protein for every three whole walnuts
Pumpkin seeds – 4g per tablespoon
Pistachios – just over 1g of protein over 10 pistachios
Cashew nuts – 3g per 10 cashew nuts
Tip: Let’s not forget peanut butter and nut butter, as another convenient protein source, but read the label to make sure they are 100% nuts and have no added oils, salt or sugars. One heaped tablespoon of smooth peanut butter provides over 3g of protein.
True Elements Roasted Sunflower, Pumpkin and Flax Seeds Watermelon, Chia & Goji Berries, 250g (Pack of 2)(125g*2)
Nut butter – spread on toast, stir into stews, or whirl into morning smoothies. Tip: Try sunflower seed butter if you’re allergic to nuts. Protein: 7 grams per 2-Tbs. serving peanut butter. Jus’ Amazin Gift Box Combo Pack – Almond Butter, Seed Butter, Cashew Butter & Peanut Butter (4 X 55 g)
Dairy is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, potassium. However, yoghurt is the best of all. As it provides all these as well as protein and probiotics which is great for our gut.
Try adding more and more yoghurt to your everyday meal.
One cup of yoghurt made from whole milk packs about 8 g of protein.
Raita or plain yoghurt is been around us, but try making dips and fruit popsicles, using yoghurt at home.
I skip the mayonnaise and serve yoghurt base dips at home with snacks.
Drizzle some whipped thick yoghurt on the tacos, and savoury bakes.
Try roasted potatoes with yoghurt dip.
Tip: The whey (the watery portion in homemade yoghurt) is packed with protein too. I normally add it to the chaas.
Avoid adding refined sugar to the yoghurt. Try jaggery powder with chilled yoghurt. It is absolutely soulful.
Smoothies, Parfaits made using yoghurt are healthy and kids love them.
When measured dry, protein in Oates is 5.9 gm per half-cup. Which turns double when cooked with milk and topped with some seeds.
Some vegetarian protein sources are considered an incomplete protein. Oats, on the other hand, has all nine essential amino acids. It is superior to grains like wheat.
Some of you might find it difficult to like the texture and flavour oats turn into when cooked. I too despise that gooey milky, sweet, porridge breakfast bowl. But there are many yum ways to include oats into the diet.
Tip: When you are making a batter for uttapam using Dahi and suji add some oats to it. Uttapam turns out really yum. You can add powdered oats to dosa and idli batter as well. True Elements Rolled Oats, Gluten Free Oats, High in Fibre and Protein, 1kg
I do like oats when they are made in a savoury version. Oat Budha bowl being one of them with lots of vegetables.
Add oats to cutlet and kababs for wraps/Frankies. Add salad and drizzle yoghurt dip, on the top.
Oats upma is a perfect way to start a workday.
Cookies, muffins and granola are few more healthy indulgences.
Coconut predominantly is a great source of protein, this is indeed worth including in your regular diet. A 100 g serving of coconut has almost 3.3 g of proteins. So, whether you like to just chew on raw coconut or you like to add a lot of it in your curries, eating coconut is definitely getting you closer to your daily required protein intake. Coconut water offers an array of health benefits and is highly recommended, especially during the summer season. Tender coconut meat offers several minerals and several substances which can help boost immunity. 1 medium coconut (the meat) contains 13.2 g of protein.
Bajra / Ragi Millets
Bajra – pearl millet – High protein Millet
Including Bajra in your daily diet is an excellent way to include protein to the diet. It’s gluten-free, high in fibre and is great for weight management.
Bajra ki roti is one of the common ways to add Bajra to the diet. Bajra idli, dhokla, thalipith and bajra adai dosa turns out good.
If nothing excites you about bajra, simply add some amount of bajra flour to your everyday roti dough. NaturPro Pearl Millet Flour (Bajra Atta), 350gms x 2
Ragi, Bajra Amaranth are a great source of protein. I’m including rajgira (amaranth) in here, which isn’t a grain technically, but is often treated as one. The protein in amaranth referred to as ‘complete’ because it contains lysine, an amino acid missing or negligible in many grains.”
Naturevibe Botanicals Ragi (Nachni) Atta – 1Kg
It’s fairly easy to make rajgira ladoos, cooked with sugar or jaggery, especially in the winter. But it’s healthier to add amaranth flour to your daily chapati or paratha atta. In fact, making your chapatis from a blend of attas will substantially raise their nutritional value.
Buckwheat – a rich source of protein, and an amazing option for vegetarians try buckwheat dosa, uttapam, pancakes, khichdi. NutriBuck Buckwheat Groats | Hulled | Kuttu-Giri | Gluten-Free | ( 400 grm )
Some slightly less known grains can also be used to bump up your protein:
Spelt – over 5g of protein per 100g – an ancient grain
Teff – over 4g of protein per 100g – ancient grain – gluten-free
Sorghum – over 8g of protein per 100g
Farro – 7g of protein per cup – a nutty ancient grain
Hulled Hemp – 10 g of protein per 1/4th cup
Foods in the legume family are good sources of vegetarian protein, and peas are no exception: One cup contains 7.9 g—about the same as a cup of milk.
This is my favourite, roasted Chana, super high on proteins.
Every 100 grams serving of black Chana gives approx. 9g protein.
Eat a handful of Chana, every day and you are good to go. Roasted Chana is excellent for weight loss, cardiovascular health, diabetes, Thyroid, and suppresses hunger pranks. I am a big fan of sattu flour too. Marwadi style Sattu pade is something I can eat for the rest of my life.
Quinoa, which is technically a seed, also packs a strong protein-punch; a quarter cup (uncooked) has up to 8g of protein. Quinoa often makes a great substitute for starchy rice, paste, and you can cook it like an upma, use it in a salad and even toss some vegetables and cook it like a light, healthy pulao or blend it in your smoothie.
Quinoa is full of fibre, iron, magnesium, and manganese. You will find baked recipes with quinoa flour, muffins, fritters, energy bars, cookies. AGROPHILIA White Quinoa 1 Kg
Try filling the burrito wrap with quinoa instead of rice. Add some boiled quinoa into the cutlets. If you don’t like the bland flavour of quinoa, you can always spice it up and make it interesting.
Avocado is high on Fat and gives a respectable amount of proteins per 100 g. This powerful fruit makes an excellent fit for any ketogenic diet due to its high fat and low carb contents. avocado’s make an excellent alternative to Butter.
I honestly believe more in our Indian foods, and in my opinion, we have so many options available for good protein. Including western world quinoa or avocado to the diet can be a choice, but should not be considered as a necessity.
Seitan- Another meat substitute popular with vegetarians, seitan is made from wheat gluten and seasoned with salt and savoury flavours. It’s loaded with protein—36 grams per half cup, more than either tofu or tempeh. It looks like duck meat and tastes like chicken, and can be used in any recipe that calls for poultry. it needs to be cooked in a soy sauce-rich broth to add gluten’s missing amino acid (lysine) to the chewy, very meat-like final product.
Vegetables and fruits with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, guava, mulberries, blackberries, nectarines.
- Asparagus – almost 2g of protein per six spears
- Avocado – over 1g per ½ an avocado
- Broccoli – almost 3g per 80g broccoli
- Brussels sprouts – around 2g per 80g Brussels sprouts
- Cauliflower – 1.5g per 80g serving
- Jerusalem artichokes – over 1g of protein per 80g
- Kale – almost 2g per 80g serving
- Spinach – 2g per 80g serving
- Sweetcorn – over 2g for every three heaped tablespoons
- Banana – 100 g of banana gives 1.1 g of protein
- Boiled edamame – contains 8.4 grams of protein per half-cup
- hemp seeds – 10 grams of protein in 3 tablespoons
- Buckwheat – 6g of protein per 1 cup serving, cooked