Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vegan Complete Proteins

One question that vegetarians and vegans quickly tire of hearing is, "but where do you get your protein??" My personal favorite answer to this question is "Mind your own business" (lol), but for those interested in a plant-based diet yet concerned about protein, here are some useful facts.

A food is rendered a complete protein by its containing all 9 essential amino acids necessary for human nutrition. Conveniently, when one combines any legume (beans, lentils, or peanuts) with any whole grain (rice, bread, pasta) they form a complementary protein in which the amino acids lacking in one are made up for by the other. However, contrary to popular belief there are a select few single vegetable food sources of complete protein available.

This food has become newly popular. It contains all 9 of the amino acids on its own and is light and quick-cooking. It is technically a grass, but has a grain-like appearance. It can be used in place of rice or barley or marinated with veggies for a yummy salad. I've also cooked it in almond milk with fruit for a dish akin to rice pudding. I've heard that for optimum nutritional content it should be soaked in water overnight prior to cooking but it will cook fine boiled in water for about 12 min without soaking.

Buckwheat (Kasha)
Can I even begin to go on about how delicious kasha is? It is a delicious substitute for rice and has a fantastic nutty, chewy flavor. If you buy the toasted variety it cooks very quickly-- about 5 to 10 min max. Delicious with mushrooms and onions. I also love it with blackeyed peas and collard greens. It is a staple of Russian, Polish, and Jewish cuisine.

No THC, I promise! The protein in hemp comes from the seed, not the leaves which have a far different well-known attribute :x Hemp powder can be added in to a smoothie and doesn't have much affect on the taste. Other than that I can't think of too many uses for it, but it's a good protein and energy booster as a supplement and is rich in a variety of vitamins and minerals.

This is one of the most commonly known veggie complete proteins and is incredibly versatile. Stick to tofu, tempeh, and soymilk and keep foods such as the highly addictive yet super-processed and salty tofu hot dog to a minimum! 

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