You need to include protein in your diet for cells to grow and repair, something that is essential for building muscle. Protein can also help with satiety or feeling full after a meal.

For all who follow a vegetarian diet or for those who simply prefer not to eat a lot of red meat, this post is for you. These are a couple of vegetarian sources of protein you can use to make your favourite recipes.

Chickpeas

Chickpeas or garbanzo beans are not only a source of protein, but fibre, iron and potassium too. They have a number of plant compounds that are beneficial for your body, which is another reason they are great for vegetarians. Chickpeas can be used as a meat substitute in curries or casseroles, you can add them to salads or make hummus from them.

Roast some chickpeas to snack on and add a dash of turmeric for flavour!

Lentils

I think lentils are highly underrated. Available in different varieties, including whole and split red lentils, green and brown lentils, they work in so many dishes! Add them to soups, stews and curries or soften them slightly before adding to salads.

Like chickpeas, lentils can be stored in your pantry, which means you can then add them to dishes as you need. They have such a long shelf life!

Tofu

Tofu comes from soybean curd and is made using a method similar to the way cheese is produced. That explains the texture. Tofu comes in different varieties, silken, soft, medium (sometimes known as sprouted tofu), firm and extra firm. Tofu is often used as a meat substitute – a soft tofu can be used in soups, while firmer tofu is great in stir-fries. While tofu doesn’t really have its own taste, it absorbs the flavours of foods it is made with.

Tempeh

Similar to tofu, tempeh is made using soybeans, with a little less processing. It’s made using fermented cooked soybeans, which is then pressed into a mould to shape the mixture. Some people describe the taste as nutty, while others say it tastes a little bit sweet. Tempeh has a bit of a chewy texture, so crumble it up before adding it to salads or pasta sauces.

Soybeans, used in both tofu and tempeh, are a complete protein, which means they have all 9 essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own! That’s great guys!

Protein can be found in other foods besides meat, such as vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. Using some of these foods can add lots of nutrients, as well as flavour, to your meals. Whether you are already following a vegetarian diet or you want to cut back on the amount of meat you’re eating, don’t forget to try and meet your nutritional needs still.

Love, Vanessa

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