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If you’re considering moving towards a more plant based diet, you need to do it very carefully to ensure you aren’t leaving your body deficient in vital nutrients. The thing is, is that some plant proteins can be difficult to digest, particularly if your gut is a little sensitive, so take note of the preparation tips I have mentioned below as this can be key to enhancing your digestion and overall health during this time. For example, legumes may be high in required nutrients, however have you heard the saying ‘it’s not what you eat, it’s what you digest and absorb’. Legumes contain an abundance of nutrients that would really benefit you, though they are not as highly bioavailable as animal protein due to anti-nutrients like phytates and lectins, which is why traditionally they are soaked and/or fermented.
The below foods are not only beneficial for vegans or vegetarians, though it is great to incorporate them in any diet! They are beautiful, whole foods that are insanely nutrient rich.
Here we are focussing on protein in particular, as it is usually an individual’s main concern when switching to a more bland based diet. A complete protein means that it contains the 9 essential amino acids your body cannot produce on its own, so must be had in your diet. Below are a list of complete proteins that I really urge you to incorporate.
Complete protein plant sources;
1. Hemp seeds
These contain roughly 32g protein per 100g, but also contain omega fatty acids which can also be missed on a plant based diet. Ways in which you can incorporate them is to sprinkle them on your avocado toast, over some yogurt, blended into your smoothie, into a pesto or other dips, or apart of bliss balls and slices.
A fantastic alternative to rice or couscous, and an incredible base to salads. It contains roughly 14g protein per 100g, and the benefit to this is that you can mix through numerous herbs and spices to make it even more delicious. I love it with roasted vegetables like pumpkin, zucchini and sweet potato. Delicious!
3. Chia seeds
Chia seeds contain roughly 15.6g of protein per 100g, and like hemp seeds, contain some omega fatty acids. I love chia puddings, or alternative gluten free breads that contain chia seeds. Like hemp seeds, you could also sprinkle them over some avocado toast, incorporate them in a homemade granola, some coconut yogurt or add them to a smoothie.
4. Sunflower seeds
Being so common (and cheap!), you wouldn’t realise that these are actually a nutrient powerhouse. They contain a whopping 21g protein per 100g. Sunflower seeds are fantastic because in some recipes they can be used as a nut free alternative to almond meal, when you grind them down really fine. They can be used in bliss balls, toasted and sprinkled over sweet or savoury meals, made into slices and more.
5. Inca Inchi seeds
So this one is a little more rare, but is becoming much more popular. You can find inca inchi protein powders that you can add to smoothies or pop in homemade slices or bliss balls. Inca inchi seeds is a Peruvian food and contains roughly 30g protein per 100g. This is HIGH! Hence why there are protein powders out of this food. The protein powder, however, has the fat component removed during its processing to make the protein content higher per serve, however the fats are in fact very beneficial, considering they also contain beneficial omega fatty acids.
6. Soaked legumes
Note that I say ‘soaked’ legumes! These include chickpeas, lentils, black beans, and more! This is important, and to reiterate, it is to make the nutrients more bioavailable (digested and absorbed more easily). To supercharge the digestion of legumes even more, you can soak them in a combination of water and a fermented food such as the Keep it Cleaner Coconut vinegar or kefir, or a little good quality coconut yogurt or normal yogurt. The microbes will then predigest the legume to make the legumes even more digestible, and enhance nutrient absorption. After the right preparation, enjoy them in curries, as the base of cakes, pancakes, fritters, falafels, dips and much more!
7. Fermented soy
Soy is much better tolerated when it has been fermented, and if you didn’t already know, they are actually a type of legume! Think of traditional Japanese soy based foods including tempeh, soy sauce and natto. These are all fermented, as it enhances the nutrient content of the food and also makes the nutrients more bioavailable. Tempeh is a fantastic food to include if you are vegan, vegetarian or just lean towards a more plant based diet. You’ll find I have incorporated tempeh in lots of recipes on the KIC app as a plant based option, because I know how good it is for you.
Consulting Qualified Nutritionist