15 Vegetarian Protein Ideas  

Written by Katherine Ung on Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Photo credit: Health Gauge

This blog post will be food for thought for all you meat lovers out there as well as for all you vegetarians and animal lovers out there.

For you carnivorous meat eaters, there is no time like the present to start cutting down on animal protein, particularly red meat and to eliminate processed red meat from your diet.

For you vegetarians out there, especially if you have cut out meat for spiritual reasons or for the love of animals, you may not have thought clearly about how to include protein in your diet as opposed to just cutting out meat and replacing it with cheese (yes you know what I’m talking about).

Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United Kingdom (Cancer Research UK) and the United States. Slovakia, Hungary and New Zealand have the highest rates of colon cancer in the world (World Cancer Research Foundation).

A study published on cancernetwork.com has shown that people that continue to consume a high amount of red and processed red meat after they had been diagnosed with bowel cancer have a 79% higher risk of death from colon/bowel cancer. Let’s not wait till colon cancer is a problem and reduce your red meat intake and eliminate your processed meat intake now.

Simply eating less red meat and avoiding processed meat such as ham and sausages altogether and combining this with a diet high in vegetable fibre and low in alcohol could prevent 45% of all colon cancers.

Now many of you may think “well I’ve heard that it’s good to eat more protein and less carbohydrates”, or “but my personal trainer has asked me to increase my protein intake and reduce my carbohydrate intake” or “doesn’t eating protein help to reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings and balance my energy levels?”.  Well these aren’t reasons to eat enormous amounts of meat that are putting you at risk of colon cancer.  There won’t be any point looking buff in the gym then.

Overloading your body with too much animal protein in general is also creating liver and gallbladder problems, particularly if you eat pork and beef and eating more protein than your body needs  is putting extra burden on your poor kidneys.

Our ancestors were not eating meat on a daily basis, so if you do decide to include meat in your diet it should be in small quantities in moderation and organic, antibiotic and steroid free.

For all you vegetarians out there, your blood sugar levels may be fluctuating due to the lack of protein and too many carboyhydrates or you may be suffering with sinus problems and skin conditions such as acne and eczema and gallstones in your liver and gallbladder due to too much cheese!

So what are the alternatives?

Well here are 15 Vegetarian Protein Ideas and some of their additional healthy benefits.

1. Chia Seeds

Chia-Blueberry Porridge by Vigilant 20

Chia-Blueberry Porridge by Vigilant 20

Chia were first used by the Aztecs as early as 3500 B.C. and today Australia looks set to become the biggest chia growing country in the world.

Chia seeds are naturally gluten free, contain eight times more Omega 3 than salmon, making it great for your skin and brain. It contains all 8 amino acids making it a complete protein and it helps to cleanse your colon and support bowel regularity.

Try out some of these Chia “puddings” for breakfast or as a snack.

2. Shelled Hemp seeds

Mish mash salad by Christaface

Mish mash salad by Christaface

The protein and fibre in hemp prevent spikes in your blood sugar levels so that your energy levels stay balanced so snacking on these friendly little seeds will prevent lazy mornings and snoozy afternoons. Hemp seeds are one of the few Omega 3 plant based sources and they will help to reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimers.

It’s Omega 6 content with help keep your skin and hair beautiful, look after your bone health and keep your brain sharp, as it is one of the most potent sources of magnesium. 75% percent of Americans are deficient in magnesium so eating more hemp seeds could change that statistic.

3. Pumpkin seeds

pumpkin-seeds

Watercress with tahini dressing and pumpkin seeds by Tiny Banquet Committee

Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium and will help protect you against sudden cardiac arrest, heart attack and stroke.

They are a high source of zinc to boost your immune system and keep your skin healthy. They are a great source of tryptophan which is the precursor of serotonin, helping to ensure you sleep like a baby and feel good!

For you men and boys out there, pumpkin seeds will protect your prostate and keep sperm swimmingly happy and healthy for fertility.

4. Tahini

Kale with Miso-Tahini dressing by Emma@ Veganomicon

Kale with Miso-Tahini dressing by Emma@ Veganomicon

Tahini is made from ground sesame seeds to form a paste. It is a rich source of Vitamin E and minerals such as such as phosphorus, lecithin and magnesium and is one of the best sources of calcium out there.

Cow’s Milk on the other hand contains lactose and casein which are common food intolerances and cow’s milk is not good for your bones at all. Infact the United States, England and Sweden consume the most milk and have the highest rates of Osteoporosis.

5. Black Gomasio (black sesame)

Photo by Coconut & Quinoa

Photo by Coconut & Quinoa

Gomasio is Japanese sesame salt used in macrobiotic diets and Goma means sesame seeds and sio means salt.

You can buy it in health food stores or try making it fresh for yourself following the instructions contained in this article: Black Sesame Gomasio.

Combining gomasio with slow-cooked whole grains such as brown rice will accelerate the de-acidification of your digestive tract and help to heal anemia, hypoglycaemia, multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

Black sesame seeds will help to banish grey hairs and nourish your liver and kidneys. They may also help if you suffer with blurred vision, tinnitus or dizziness.

6. Sprouted chickpeas hummus

Raw Sprouted Hummus from "in Sonnet's kitchen"

Raw Sprouted Hummus from “in Sonnet’s kitchen”

Did you know that if you sprout beans and pulses their protein content will increase by as much as 20% and many vitamins by as much as 500%? All great reasons to get sprouting then!

In addition sprouted chickpeas are less likely to turn you into trumpeting windy gas bag as unsprouted beans and pulses can have this unsociable side effect.

7. Almonds

Almond Butter by trpnblies7

Almond Butter by trpnblies7

Almonds are full of good fats that help to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes and help to prevent gallstones. They are also a great source of manganese and calcium.

Ignore those adverts telling you to drink milk for calcium.  Instead, if you want strong bones then be sure to eat your almonds! Other good sources of calcium are dulse, kale and watercress.

For you over zealous carnivores and bodybuilders out there, excessive meat consumption is creating high levels of acid in your blood and urine, which your body then trying to regulate by releasing calcium.  So if you want to protect your bones and keep them strong, avoid dairy products, eat your almonds, reduce your meat consumption and eliminate processed meat.

Try Almond nut butter instead of peanut butter (as peanuts are acid forming) and make almond nut milk.

8. Brasil nuts

Creamy Raw, Vegan Brazil Nut Milk Recipe by choosingraw.com

Creamy Raw, Vegan Brazil Nut Milk Recipe by choosingraw.com

Brasil / Brazil nuts are technically seeds, not nuts. They are produced by a South American tree called Bertholletia excels.

Just two brasil nuts a day are effective for increasing your selenium status.

Selenium plays a vital role in the production of the antioxidant enzyme, gluthathione peroxidase.  Selenium’s role in this antioxidant enzyme protects you against cancer and keeps you looking young! Selenium also has a crucial role in controlling the thyroid gland and subsequently your metabolic rate.

If you are preparing to get pregnant, Selenium is essential because low selenium levels could sadly lead to your baby having Down’s syndrome, Patou’s syndrome or Edward’s syndrome. So optimum levels are needed in women prior to conception, especially mothers over 30. In men, adequate selenium levels are essential for sperm development.

9. Natto

Natto by Katherine Ung

Usually I would recommend avoiding soya products because Soy contains goitrogens.

Goitrogens are substances that block the synthesis of your thyroid hormones and interfere with your iodine metabolism and imbalancing your thyroid function.

However Natto are fermented soybeans and you’ve probably heard that the Japanese live longer with lower rates of cancer and this may well be partly due to their inclusion of fermented soy in their diet. After a long fermentation process, the phytate and “anti-nutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties become available to your digestive system.

You may already be deficient in K2 if you have taken antibiotics or statins to artificially lower cholesterol or if you suffer with Chron’s, Ulcerative colitis or celiac disease.

Natto is also one of the best sources of Vitamin K2 and you need Vitamin K2 for a healthy heart and bones and to ensuring your memory is as sharp as nails.

10. Tempeh

Vegan Bun with Spicy Tempeh by Kari Sullivan

Vegan Bun with Spicy Tempeh by Kari Sullivan on flickr

Tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay) originated 4,000 years ago in Indonesia and has a mushroom like flavour.

It is made from soybeans fermented with a fungus called Rhizopus olligosporus.

Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchee, natto and tempeh produce probiotics that benefit your gut.

The fermentation makes the soy protein in tempeh more digestibale and it is best to avoid unfermented soy products such as tofu and soya milk as they interfere with your thyroid.

11. Quinoa

quinoa

Quinoa Salad by Ron Dollete on flickr

Quinoa pronounced ‘keen wah’ was one of the ancient staple foods of the Incas. It was called the “mother grain” or the “Gold of the Incas” in Peru. It is high in calcium and has the highest protein content, alongside amaranth, of any grain or pseudo-grain containing all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is a seed of the Chenopodium or Goosefoot plant and is a great source of phosphorus, vitamin E, pholate and magnesium.

Not so long ago Quinoa was not commonly heard of outside of Peru, it has now become a well known “superfood” staple and can be used instead of rice and couscous.

12. Buckwheat

Buckwheat noodle salad by stu_spivack

Buckwheat noodle salad by stu_spivack on flickr

Buckwheat is a great source for your manganese and magnesium as well as protein as it contains all nine amino acids, including lysine which plays an important role in the formation of carnitine so you can convert fatty acids into leaps and bounds of energy for the day.

Rutin is a biflavonoid that is high in buckwheat and helps reduce your blood pressure, increase your circulation to keep hands and feet warm and toasty, prevent you bruising of bleeding easily and even help to protect you during x-rays and other forms of radiation such as air travel.

13. Amaranth

Amaranth porridge with blueberry sauce by Pearlsa on flickr

Yet another seed in disguise, Amaranth means “everlasting” in Greek and was a valuable food to the ancient Aztecs. It contains more magnesium, iron and fibre than any other gluten free grain (although really a seed) as well as being high in calcium, silicon and vitamin E.

The primary proteins in amaranth are albumins and globulins which are highly digestable and this seed can help dry out damp conditions in your body and gut such as candida overgrowth, as well as benefit your lungs.

14. Teff (injera Ethiopian flatbread)

Injera by Serene Vannoy on flickr

Injera by Serene Vannoy on flickr

Teff is a gluten free grain with a mild flavour and is a great source of calcium and an excellent source of vitamin C, a nutrient not commonly found in grains.

In Ethiopia, teff is usually ground into flour and fermented to make the spongy, sourdough bread known as injera.

It’s been estimated that Ethiopians get about two-thirds of their dietary protein from teff. So including teff in your diet might help you to have the long distance stamina as that of an Ethiopian long distance runner.

Ethiopian food may not be familiar to you, however for those of you that have tried it, you’ll know that injera is used as an edible serving plate.

Here’s a great blog post on how to make your own naturally gluten free Injera Ethiopian flatbread.

15. Duck eggs

Artichoke and Duck Egg salad by Stijn Nieuwendijk

Artichoke and Duck Egg salad by Stijn Nieuwendijk

Chicken eggs are a common food intolerance and food allergy and for most people it is the protein in the egg white, the albumin, that is causing the problem.

However duck eggs and chicken eggs are different so it is possible that you may be fine with duck eggs and not have to give up your omelettes and sunny-side-ups afterall!

Compared to chicken eggs, duck eggs are richer in protein, many minerals, B vitamins and healthy fats, including Omega-3’s.  Check out your local farmer’s market for organic duck eggs.

Even if you do find that duck eggs aren’t hurling hassle your way, it is best to only eat 1-2 duck eggs only every 4 days to keep your proteins in rotation and avoid problems including constipation, as eggs are binding.

Conclusion

So now that you have a whole new set of protein options to ponder on, you may be sitting there worried about your excessive meat or cheese consumption over the years and if you aren’t worried about it, perhaps it’s time to think about it.  Your digestive system and detox pathways are getting clogged up and not working as well as they once were. A course of colonics and liver and gallbladder flushes will help to clean out your colon, liver and gallbladder from previous excess meat and cheese consumption and motivate you to eat less meat and include more vegetarian proteins alongside plenty of green alkalising vegetables.

Did you know 35% of the world grain harvest is used to produce animal protein? Eating non animal proteins simply has a lower environmental impact. So alongside reducing the impact on the planet, you can reduce the damaging impact on your colon, liver and kidneys.

So banish those bacon butties and cheese sandwiches and start experimenting with new ideas and recipes to tingle your taste buds, while keeping your energy levels balanced and your sugar and bread cravings under control, with plenty of vegelicious proteins.

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About Katherine Ung

Katherine Ung is a therapist that has been passionate about nutrition and colonic irrigation since 1999.

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