Many Americans have the mistaken idea that meat is the only source of protein and therefore, every meal has to include meat, because of course we need protein. The truth is, you don’t need to eat meat to have a healthy diet. In fact, a study conducted by Public Health and Nutrition, revealed that a meatless or low red meat diet not only improved health status but also decreased the participants’ risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, there are lots of other sources of lean protein that can be lower in calories and trans fat and higher in fiber! So what are these meatless foods? Here, five options for creating delicious, healthy and meat-free meals.
Tofu is a great addition to any meal and it provides you with soy protein. Add it to a miso soup, stir fry, green salad or use it to make chocolate mouse.
Whole grains add protein and carbohydrates to your diet. Whole grains that are protein-rich include brown rice, wild rice, and 100% whole grain breads and pastas. These foods are easy to incorporate into your daily meals. Try making your favorite pasta dish with whole grain pasta or adding wild rice to your salad.
Legumes like chickpeas and a variety of beans can be added to many meals. Try making a black bean dip and serve it with whole grain pita chips; or maybe you favor a split pea or lentil soup. Chickpeas make a hearty addition to a vegetarian chili. There are so many options that it can be fun to experiment with different recipes.
Nuts, seeds and nut butters also pack a protein punch. Make sure you watch out for high saturated fat contents by choosing nut butters that contain only nuts in the ingredient list. This helps to avoid extra additives and sugars. Limit your intake to 2 tablespoons a serving to avoid excessive calories.
Low fat dairy and eggs can also be a great source of protein, especially for breakfast. Try low-fat cottage cheese with fresh or frozen fruit or a veggie omelet.
Eating meatless, even once and a while, can be a great way to boost your health. Give it a try and see how easy it is to incorporate into your life!