Protein – we hear this talked about all the time, right? And we know it’s important for our growth, heart, immune system and of course for our muscles. When we hear the word protein most of us think of the stock standard animal protein sources such as meat, fish, chicken etc… These are great, but what if you’re looking to step outside the meat-box? Or are you looking for the animal product benefits without the saturated fat and extra calories? Or what if you’re simply interested in a plant-based, “no meat- athlete” approach to healthy living…

So… We have composed our top 10 plant-based protein sources. Which ones will you try?

1)   Spirulina & Chlorella: Both types of green algae contain a massive 60–71% protein (beef only contains 22%). Furthermore, they are excellent sources of amino acids, minerals, vitamins and chlorophyll. You can place a tablespoon of the powdered form varieties in your daily smoothie or juice, or alternatively you can simply take them in tablet form.

2)   Flaxseeds: 100g of these little beauties contain 21g of protein as well as fibre, omega 3 fatty acids and lignans (phytoestrogen that protects us against cancer). I enjoy the milled variety flaxseeds as it can so easily be sprinkled over meals, enjoyed in smoothies and added to recipes.

3)   Lentils and Beans: Listen up, this is impressive! 1 cup of lentils has a massive 18g of protein. 1 cup of chickpeas, black beans or kidney beans contains a huge 15 grams of protein. Lentils and beans can so easily be tossed into salads and added as a side to any meal. Best of all, most little ones absolutely love their mild taste and will gobble up these gems without a fight.

Chickpeas, Beans, Lentils

4)   Maca (a root plant): Watch out, I’m going to use that oh so popular word of the moment – “superfood”, but if the shoes fits, wear it. 100g of this superfood powder contains 13.2g of protein. As well as protein, Maca contains iron, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, potassium, zinc, silica andcopper. Furthermore, it has been found to increase your stamina, strength and endurance – so, what’s not to love! It comes in both capsule and powdered form. I prefer the powder as it’s maple flavour makes it a great addition at meal time: simply sprinkle a teaspoon over cereal, mix it into smoothies or incorporate it into recipes – it’s especially delicious in raw chocolate.

5)   Chia Seeds: Did you know that 50g chia seeds contain 8.5g protein? As well as high amounts of fibre, calcium (in amounts that put milk to shame) and all 9 essential amino acids. Best of all, Chia seeds have no flavor, so you can easily add them to meals without altering the taste.

Chia Seeds, Flaxseeds, Hemp Seeds

6)   Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah): This little goldmine is loaded with protein. 1 cup of this couscous look-a-like seed contains 8.14g of protein. Quinoa is a complete protein meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health. It’s gluten free, basically tasteless and can be used in a variety of ways from porridge in the morning to a rice substitute at night.

7)   Almonds and Almond Butter: These well-known treats contain a whopping 6-8g of protein per handful. Try and enjoy them daily, as a morning snack, by adding them to salads or you can even make milk out of them. Try and go for a raw, unsalted almond for maximum nutritional benefits.

8)   Hemp Seeds: No – it’s not what you’re thinking, it’s not hippy-esque or going to get you high, but rather make you feel full because 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds contains an amazing 5g of protein. Hemp is also known to be high in potassium, fibre, iron, vitamin A and minerals including zinc, magnesium and iron. Simply sprinkle the seeds over your morning cereal or your salad at lunch, pop them into your daily smoothies and incorporate them into most recipes.

9)   Dark Leafy Green Vegetables: Yes, this is a regularly overlooked group as many people don’t realise that leafy greens pack a healthy protein-rich punch. So how much protein are we talking you ask? Well – 1 cup of spinach has 7g, 1 cup of kale has 4g, 1 cup of chard has 3g and 1 cup of collard greens has 2g. Green is good, and protein rich!

Leafy Greens: Kale, Spinach, Chard

10)  Sun Warrior Protein Powder: I have to be honest – I am not one for protein powders, but I know that lots of people out there love them so I am adding one to our list. This is the best one around; it’s a raw plant-based protein powder that’s free from solvents, GMOs, artificial colours and preservatives. 25g of this powder contains 40% protein as well as all of the essential amino acids. So if you’re going to enjoy a protein powder this is the best one out there.

In the end, the choice is yours – carnivore, herbivore or maybe a little of both? Whatever you decide, do what’s best for you and what you feel your body needs. Happy healthy eating!!!