5 Complete Proteins You Need in a Plant Based Diet
If you or a member of your family follow a plant based diet then you probably make sure that you are getting plenty of plant protein. It’s not just the quantity of plant protein that is important – you need to think about the quality too.
The building blocks of proteins are called amino acids. At a basic level we break the proteins in our food down into amino acids and then – a little like lego blocks – we rebuild these amino acids into the proteins we need in our body. Some of these amino acids are called essential amino acids. Essential means that we MUST get these amino acids from our food to meet our protein requirements.
All animal based proteins are complete proteins. They contain all of these essential amino acids in the right amounts for our body to use. With plant proteins we need to combine a range of proteins to make sure we get the amino acids we need. Good news is that there are some complete plant proteins. Include these in your diet regularly whether you are vegan, vegetarian or omnivorous.
Five Complete Plant Proteins
Here are five of my favourite complete plant proteins with suggestions on how to build them into your diet.
Are these an essential in any plant based diet? Chia seeds can be used to make an egg substitute. Mix 1 tbsp chia seeds and 21/2tbsp water and leave to stand for 5 minutes. The chia will coat in a gloopy gel. You can use this in pancakes or baking as an egg substitute.
The gloopy quality when chia meets water makes it a perfect addition to change your smoothie drink into a smoothie bowl. Smoothies are great for adding in lots of extra fruit and veggies but you can drink a lot quite quickly and miss out on satiety cues. Smoothie bowls take a little longer to eat, can be topped with crunchier textures and can support portion management. Try my chocolate ginger smoothie bowl.
Are you a chia pudding fan? Chia seeds soaked in plant milk and flavoured with vanilla, spices or cocao has something of a tapioca feel to it. Personally I wasn’t a fan until I discovered a blended version. This chocolate chia pudding makes a quick and tasty dessert.
I love quinoa, it’s a versatile seed that can be cooked as a grain. You can use it anywhere that you would use couscous. Switch your rice for quinoa in a bean curry or griddle or roast some veggies and make a quick quinoa salad for lunch. This simple quinoa salad combines roast pepper and courgette with rainbow chard stems, pine nuts and lemon juice. Roll it into the chard leaves, top with a simple tomato sauce and you have a whole different dish.
Another seed that can be used as a grain. Buckwheat flour is a great, naturally gluten free, alternative to regular flour. It’s naturally nutty flavour is perfect for savoury pancakes (just use in the same quantities as you would use flour). You can use the whole buckwheat ‘groats’ as an alternative to oats in granola. For the ultimate indulgent treat you could give these brownies a try.