As more and more people begin to enjoy vegetarian and vegan food, understanding how to replace the protein found in meat is important.
MiNDOOD spoke to Nuzest nutritionist Nicola Miethke about the need for protein in vegan diets and how to get a sufficient amount.
Why we need protein?
Proteins are the building blocks of life. Every cell in the human body is made up of chains of amino acids, which are in themselves the building blocks of protein.
Our bodies can naturally produce 11 “non-essential” amino acids on their own whereas 9 “essential” amino acids have to come from our diets.
Protein helps to support growth and energy levels, build our strength, repair our tissues and muscles, and is essential for the production of enzymes and neurotransmitters that work constantly to keep our digestion and metabolism working and our brains functioning.
Our body loses and replaces approximately 2 million cells per second and without adequate protein from our diet, our body is unable to repair damaged cells or produce new ones.
Simply put, we need adequate protein in order to thrive.
Benefits of vegan protein:
1. Improved Digestion – Vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds are loaded with healthy fibres that naturally improve digestion and absorption, increase motility and reduce symptoms of gas and bloating.
2. Metabolism Booster – The combination of fibre and protein means it takes your body a while to digest vegan whole foods. The more your body works on metabolising the plant protein, the better your body becomes at burning extra fat.
3. Cardiovascular health – Plant-based diets tend to be lower in cholesterol and saturated fats and high in healthy plant sterols which can help to improve heart health and overall well-being.
4. Avoid added hormones & antibiotics – Many animal-based sources of protein can contain added hormones and antibiotics whereas plant-based sources of protein are packed with antioxidants, phytochemicals (compounds produced naturally by plants), vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimal health.
5. Complete proteins – Many people believe that animal sources of protein are the only “complete” proteins (i.e. they contain adequate levels of all 9 essential amino acids). This is simply not true. Soy, tempeh, edamame beans and golden peas are all complete sources of protein. There are also many ways to combine vegan foods to ensure that you are getting all your amino acids in one meal (see below for details).
Foods with good amounts of vegan protein:
Legumes: Black beans, chickpeas, edamame, kidney beans, lentils, golden peas, pinto beans, soy (tempeh, tofu).
Wholegrains: Amaranth, buckwheat, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, whole-wheat
Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.
By combining at least 2 of the above foods groups you will ensure that you are always getting your full host of 20 amino acids in every meal. e.g. beans + rice, hummus + seed crackers, almond butter + rice crackers, lentil soup + whole meal bread.
Protein Supplements: The quickest and easiest way to ensure that you are getting enough quality complete protein in your diet is to supplement with a vegan protein powder, for example, Clean Lean Protein from Nuzest. Not only is it 100% vegan but it contains all 20 amino acids and is free from gluten, dairy and GMOs.
Vanilla Matcha Glow Bars
Delicious protein bars perfect for pre-workout snacks and with the added benefit to make you glow from the inside out.
1 serve of Nuzest Vanilla Matcha Clean Lean Protein
1 cup green banana flour
1 cup coconut flour
1 chia egg
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 cup cashews soaked
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste extract
1 cup almond milk unsweetened
½ cup brown rice syrup
½ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
1 scoop Nuzest Vanilla Matcha Clean Lean Protein
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste extract
Sprinkle of hemp seeds for decoration
- Pre-soak your cashews for a minimum of 3 hours
- Strain your cashews, then rinse them, strain again and pulse in your food processor, intermittently scraping down the sides until you have a nice cashew paste (add small increments of almond milk here if needed to get the cashews moving)
- Add the vanilla bean paste, brown rice syrup, almond milk and chia egg to your food processor and blitz together just to get the ingredients blended (no longer than 10 seconds)
- In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients: banana flour, coconut flour, chia seeds, Nuzest protein and salt until combined
- Pour your wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix
- With clean hands, knead the ingredients together. If they’re too dry to be pressed into your slice tin, slowly add small amounts of milk until just moist enough
- Line your slice tin with baking paper and empty the dough into the tin
- Press it down firmly with your hands making sure it is level
- Set in the fridge for 15 minutes
- Whilst your slice is setting melt your coconut oil on low heat till just melted
- Whisk in your Nuzest protein and vanilla until combines
- Pull your slice out of the fridge and with a tablespoon, flick your glaze diagonally across your slice till all used
- Pop back in the fridge to set before slicing and serving