Every western high protein diet you consult will tell you to eat chicken and egg everyday. As a vegetarian, replacing those sources of protein is a real struggle. Isn't it? Here's a few simple foods you can incorporate in your Indian meals that help to increase the amount of protein you eat everyday.
Gone are the days of vegans and vegetarians falling short of their recommended daily intake of protein. Today, there are several foods that are easily available in stores around you that offer more protein than eggs. The list below has 8 top foods we recommend adding to your vegetarian meals to amp up the energy.
1. Natural Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is a great pick if you’re vegetarian and need a good protein addition to your meals. Be careful to pick the right kind of peanut butter though. A natural peanut butter, which has mainly peanuts as its ingredients (no added hydrogenated fats or preservatives), will give you up to 10g of protein per 32g serving (that's 30%). As a spread, peanut butter is quite versatile and can easily be added to your breakfast and snack times. You can have some with toast, add two spoons to your oats, dip some biscuits in it, drizzle it on fruit or add it to your milkshake.
- High Protein Milkshake - read recipe here
- Chilli Chutney Peanut Butter with millet or dal based dosa or chilla
- Peanut butter & fruit snacks (find our Apple Peanut Butter Granola recipe here)
100g of boiled soybeans contains 24g of protein. Soybean is quite versatile and can be used to make a variety of foods, including salads, main courses, and snacks.
- Masala Soybean (similar to peanut chaat)
- Soya chunks curry
- Soya chaap / falafel
Almonds are a terrific option for you to get more protein in your diet if you occasionally love snacking. Apart from the 5 soaked almonds every morning, you can add roasted almonds to your snack, shaved almonds to your oat bowls or almond butter to your toast. With 24g of protein per 100g, almond butter is a great addition to your diet.
- Almond Milk (read: How to Make Almond Milk at Home)
- Topping on Oat Bowls
- Chocolate Almond Butter on Toast (replace sugary chocolate spread)
You might enjoy reading: 3 vegetarian foods that have as much protein as an egg
As vegetarians, if you think that the best way to get high protein in your diet is through paneer - you're not wrong. 100g of paneer contains roughly 18g of protein - it is both high in protein and low in calories. You can eat paneer in a veggie sandwich at breakfast and start your day with a high protein kick. In fact, eating a savoury high-protein breakfast in the morning helps maintain more stable glucose levels throughout the day.
- Veggie paneer sandwich
- Raw paneer bhurji with onion and chillies
- Paneer fritters / fingers
This fiber-rich, gluten-free grain is a source of complete protein because it includes all nine essential amino acids, including the muscle-building L-arginine. And has a 16g of protein per 100g.
- Salad with cucumber, tomato and boiled quinoa
- Quinoa biryani (just replace rice with quinoa)
- Quinoa upma
6. Greek Yogurt
Greek yoghurt is a fantastic source of probiotics and has twice as much protein as homemade curd. It also makes you feel satiated for longer. Every 100 g of fat-free Greek yoghurt contains 10g of protein.
- Yoghurt with granola (for breakfast)
- Greek yoghurt smoothie with fruits
- Substitute regular dahi with unflavoured greek yoghurt
Given that a 100g of boiled chickpeas provides roughly 9g of protein, chickpeas have a fairly high protein level. By producing cholecystokinin, a hormone that suppresses hunger, it aids in enhancing feelings of satiety or feeling full.
- Chana sabzi
- Hummus with Olive Oil (eat with pita & veggies)
- Pasta or Salad with Chickpeas
8. Lentils or Dal
100g of cooked daal contains roughly 9g of protein, which is much more than one big boiled egg! Pulses are a fantastic source of plant-based protein, fibre and complex carbs.
If you use sprouted dals, you'll get even better nutrition absorption in the body and you won't get that feeling of 'bloating' after eating. Read about Why Sprouted Dal is Better than Regular Dal on our blog.
- Dal Chawal (who doesn't love this - my favourite comfort food!)
- Moong Dal Chaat (with sprouted moong daal)
- Dal Chilla - try the Sprouted Moong Dal Chilla by Happy Jars
- Vegetable Khichdi
Millets are a very nutritious food group of cereals, that look like seeds and are originally from the 'grass' family. They are abundant in India, but have only now started getting the importance they deserve. Millets contain essential amino acids which are the building blocks of protein, and they are high in calcium and other minerals.
Compared to rice, particularly for those of us on a weight loss diet, millets can replace rice or roti in your meals quite easily. Depending on the types of recipes you make, millets go really well with Indian sabzi, dals and even as the carb element of favourite meals like dal-chawal and rajma-chawal.
- Millet Dosa - try the Happy Jars Millet Dosa Mix and serve it with our Chilli Chutney Peanut Butter or sambhar.
- Millet No Maida Pancakes - we have a delicious Banana Choco-Chip Pancake that is made with Jowar, Bajra and Foxtail Millets
I love Avocados! But because they are grown mainly in North America, the price and availability of good Avocados in India is challenging. If you get your hands on a good avocado, it's worth adding to at least one meal a week.
Avocados are high in protein, high in macros and good micro nutrients. They're low in sodium and have no cholesterol. This makes them ideal for those of us trying to fuel their protein intake without adding on too much carb content.
- Guacomole (fondly called 'Guac') on toast - here's an easy and quick recipe for a healthy sourdough-guac sandwich that will be devoured in minutes.
- Guac-dip for snacks - use the same recipe for guacomole but then add some yoghurt to make it a delicious dip for your evening snacks.
- Sliced avocado with a squeeze of lime, some salt and chilli powder
It's time to end the misconception that vegetarians and vegans cannot get enough protein in their diets. There are a huge number of food options that are quick, convenient and have very good protein levels. We hope this article helped you to find your favourite vegetarian protein sources.
Also Read: Are you Eating Enough Protein to understand the ideal protein requirement at different ages and life stages.