I’ll never forget my first tofu experience. It was at our local Thai restaurant. I ordered my favorite, Pad Thai, and the server asked what type of meat I wanted. “No meat,” I replied. It had been a few weeks since I had gone completely plant-based, and subsisting on veggies, fruits, and whole grains wasn’t going to cut it anymore. “I’ll add tofu,” I said. My big plate of Pad Thai arrived and I dug in. The noodles were great. The sauce was delicious. The tofu? Arrrrrrrgh. Bland. Mushy. Tasteless. Like mini blocks of tasteless white jello. Needless to say, I avoided tofu for awhile, and experimented with other protein-packed plant foods. Here’s what I found: there are heaps of great sources of plant-based proteins!
Before I share some of my favorite recipes with you, let’s address two common myths about protein.
Myth #1: Animal products are the only source of protein.
Truth: Nearly every whole food contains protein, even fruits. While animal products may be high in protein, plant-based proteins contain a ton of good-for-you benefits like fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants the animal foods lack. Plant-based foods like legumes, nuts, quinoa, hemp seeds, and soy are all sources of protein. The last three are all considered “complete proteins” because they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Myth #2: Humans need to consume high levels of protein to be healthy.
Truth: Is protein healthy? Yes! But large amounts can actually damage your health. Too much protein can lead to inflammation and is hard on your kidneys. How much do you need? Aim for 0.36 grams per pound of body weight. So if you’re a 140-pound female, that’s roughly 50 grams.
Are you looking for different ideas for great sources of plant protein? Check out this handy infographic:
My personal favorite sources of plant-based protein are lentils, quinoa, and chickpeas and legumes. Here are recipes from my site and around the web.
Oh, and if you’re wondering, I eventually did get over my tofu-hatred. In fact, now I’m a fan. Tofu Tip: make sure to always purchase organic, non-GMO tofu that is either firm or extra firm, and lightly sear it to make the outside crispy. I love making Tofu Summer Rolls when the weather is warm.
Cheers to Plant-Power!