This week’s post is on my favourite go-to smoothie post a workout. The total protein per shake amounts to an incredible 30 grams of protein, which contributes nicely towards one’s total daily protein intake.
Having joined the Soaring Free Superfoods team this year I have had access to the amazing world of superfoods in all of its glory, and in abundance too.
I have been inspired by these incredible superfoods and by the passionate team that contribute to the daily wellbeing of the business, as well as the wealth of knowledge floating around constantly.
What I love about superfoods is the way they provide whole food supplementation and promote delicious nutrition. Anyone who ever believed that veganism or vegetarianism was boring only needs to step into the world of superfoods to learn how quickly they spruce up a meal adding vibrancy, vitality, colour, and fun to any dish.
Oftentimes, overeating is caused by the body in search of nutrient rich foods to keep it functioning optimally. One can only begin to grasp what it takes to keep this complex physiological organism fuelled, energised, focused, and fit.
Superfoods help to provide the fuel your body needs to perform these tasks. Each superfood delivers a wide array of powerful nutrients from vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, fibre and so much more goodness all in one. Additionally, because superfoods are natural wholesome foods that are not synthetically created as many commercial supplements are, the body easily recognises and absorbs all of their goodness.
Whether you are transitioning from a standard diet to a diet richer in plant-based foods or already are a vegan or vegetarian, I am sure you have been asked how you meet your daily protein requirements? Perhaps you have wondered the same thing yourself.
The good news is that it is possible to get all of the protein you need from the plant kingdom. Protein is just one of three macronutrients, the other two being carbohydrates and fats of which I will be talking about in a later post.
The average person needs 45-65 grams of protein per day to stay healthy. Highly active people may need more and can increase their daily amount of protein according to their needs.
Protein is required for many processes in the body including DNA and RNA synthesis, for growth and repair of body tissues, for the proper functioning of antibodies, resisting infection, hormone regulation, detoxification, and digestion to name a few.
My Delicious Go-To Post Workout Smoothie
2 T hemp protein powder
1 T hemp seeds
1 T vanilla mesquite supershake mix
2 t chia seeds
¼ C cashews, soaked (overnight, or for 4 hours)
¼ C rolled oats, soaked (overnight, or for 4 hours)
1 T honey
(Note: Not a fan of simple sugars? Feel free to substitute the banana and honey with Mesquite or Lucuma – both low GI superfoods that add a beautiful natural sweetness to things.)
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and whiz up until smooth and creamy.
Add extra ice if you feel like something cool and refreshing.
(Note: If you are not able to find the vanilla mesquite shake mix, simply swop this ingredient for some raw cacao and adjust the honey according to sweetness.)
These foods contribute greatly to my daily protein intake:
Lentils contain 18 grams of protein per cup (cooked). It is one of the main sources of protein in my diet. Red lentils are great when making soups as they melt down nicely during cooking, and green lentils are lovely in stews as they hold together well and maintain their bite.
Tempeh (pronounced tem-pay) is a fermented soybean cake (similar to tofu, except tofu is not fermented like tempeh is). The fermentation process makes more protein available to the body then the original product, and it makes food easier to digest. Tempeh has a strong flavour, but if you cook it well it is delicious. One cup provides 30 grams of protein making it one of the highest sources of plant-based protein around.
Beans and legumes are also great sources of protein. My favourite are black beans (makes for a delicious black bean hummus), mung beans are great and you can also eat them sprouted (known as bean sprouts in supermarkets), and chickpeas, which are highly versatile and one of the more common legumes on the market.
Dark leafy greens are often overlooked, but they are packed with protein. Kale is a great one; it is versatile and available all year. You can also think about broccoli and asparagus when thinking about high protein greens. Peas are also a good source of protein and delicious to naturally sweeten meals; think about adding them to stews and to hummus.
Nuts are a wonderful plant based source of protein. I like using brazil nuts to make nut milk, and cashews are one of my favourite nuts to work with. Sesame seeds and flax seeds are also good sources of protein and are packed with calcium too.
Whole grains are typically known for their carbohydrate content, but they can also be a great source of protein. Quinoa contains 9 grams of protein per cup (cooked), and oats have 6 grams of protein per cup (cooked). I love adding soaked oats to my morning smoothie to boost the protein content.
Protein powders also offer good amounts of protein. When choosing a plant protein powder look for a whole food source and avoid the word ‘isolate’ because this means that the food has been fractioned in some way and processed, and is therefore no longer a whole food. Some examples of powders I like are sprouted pea and brown rice protein powders. Again, the word sprouted means they are easier to digest and also the amount of protein available to the body becomes more then the original food during the sprouting process. Typically you will get 5-10 grams of protein per tablespoon, and luckily they taste quite good and you can always add other ingredients to mask the sometimes-bitter flavour.
You can also look at hemp seed protein powder (my personal favourite), which is not sprouted but because hemp seed protein is very easy for the body to digest.
Algae also have an unbelievable amount of bioavailable protein and are a great daily source of protein. One teaspoon of chlorella will give you 5 grams of protein making it cost effective too.
My top superfoods for supporting my day-to-day lifestyle:
Hemp Seed Protein: With its exceptional protein profile, hemp protein powder is an excellent source of muscle building protein. Hemp is a high quality, easily digestible and complete source of protein. The protein found in hemp is highly alkalising which enhances the speed of recovery of muscle tissue post a workout. Hemp seeds are wonderful to add creaminess to smoothies or to sprinkle over salads or on top of a baked potato. One tablespoon amounts to 6 grams of protein.
Shelled Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds contain all 20 known amino acids, including all 9 essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Hemp seeds contain 30% pure digestible protein that both build and repair muscle tissue. These incredible seeds are also high in essential fatty acids.
Spirulina: This incredible source of complete protein is easily absorbed by the body and is also highly alkalising. Spirulina is 60-70% protein by weight, yields 200 times more protein per acre than beef and is 4 times more digestible. Try taking spirulina in tablet form (the powder is crushed at a high intensity to make a whole food supplement) if you have an aversion to the taste, or add it to smoothies and baked products.
I noticed an incredible difference when I started using the spirulina; my brain fog cleared and I felt more energetic. It is a strong detoxifier so I recommend starting slow and increasing gradually until you are on +/- 10 tablets per day. It is a whole food supplement meaning that your body can recognise and utilise the nutrients in this supplement a lot better then if it were a synthetic version created in a laboratory.
Goji Berries: Contain 8 essential amino acids making them a complete protein source. These body-building proteins contain 18 amino acids including tryptophan, an amino acid that supports brain health.
Chia Seeds: Are a near complete source of protein containing almost all of the essential amino acids and only missing taurine. Chia seeds contain twice the amount of protein in almost all other seeds or grains. The combination of essential fats, fibre and protein make chia an excellent food for improving endurance, fitness and flexibility.
I hope this post empowers you to take the simple steps required to increase your daily protein intake. Feel free to comment below if you have questions, or leave your own healthy protein snack ideas to inspire others.