10 Complete Proteins – Not Just For Vegetarians!

I was talking with one of our lovely ladies last week and she mentioned she was a vegetarian and going vegan. I quickly realised I couldn’t offer too much nutritional advice needed to do some research on the subject, and what I found was both really interesting and could definitely be applied to all our diets.

The term ‘complete protein’ refers to amino acids, the building block of protein. There are 20 different amino acids that can form protein and 9 that the body cannot produce on its own – essential amino acids.

Meat is not the only contender, eggs & dairy also fit the bill which is an easy option for vegetarians but not vegans – but there are plenty of other ways to get complete proteins, and here are some:

1. Quinoa – 8 grams protein per 1 cup serving cooked
Quinoa looks a lot like couscous but its way more nutritious. Full of fibre, iron & magnesium, Quinoa is a terrific substitute for rice, but can also be used to make muffins, fritters & cookies.

2. Buckwheat – 6 grams protein per 1 cup serving cooked
Buckwheat is not a type of wheat but is related to rhubarb! Buckwheat is usually used either ground as a flour substitute or in kernels similar to oatmeal.

3. Soy – 10 grams protein per ½ cup serving (firm tofu)
Whilst beans are normally low in amino acid, soy is a complete protein. The firmer the tofu, the higher the protein content.

4. Mycoprtein (Quorn) – 13 grams per ½ cup serving
Quorn was originally developed to combat food shortages and it’s made by growing a type of fungus in vats and is usually bound together with eggs whites, so whilst not strictly vegan, you can buy some vegan products.

5. Rice and Beans – 7 grams protein per 1 cup serving
One of the simplest and cheapest vegan-est meals and one of the best sources of protein. Most beans are low in methionine and high in lysine (the opposite of rice), so together they have protein content on par with meat.

6. Hummus & Pita – 7 grams per 1 while pitta & 2 tablespoons of hummus
The protein in wheat is low in lysine, but chick peas are high in lysine, so together they are a great source of ‘complete protein’.

Close but Not Quite a Complete Protein!

7. Hempseed – 10 grams protein per 2 tablespoon serving
Hempseed provides significant amounts of all nine essential amino acids, though it’s too low in lysine to be considered complete. It also contains plenty of magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. They are also a rare Vegan source of essential fatty acids.

8. Chia – Protein: 4 grams per 2 tablespoon serving
Chai seeds are the highest plant source of Omega3 fatty acids and they contain more fibre than flax seeds or nut. There are like Hempseed too low on lysine, but Chai is also a powerhouse of iron, calcium, zinc and antioxidants. Chai seeds also go gloopy when mixed with liquid which makes them great for making healthy puddings, thickening smoothies or replacing eggs in vegan baking.

There are also some great recipe idea using all the above here.

Happy cooking!

Julie