Plant Based Protein for Picky Eaters

One thing that is important to me is to make sure that I get enough protein. Being a picky eater, this is a plant based protein sources one for me as I do not like the go to vegetarian protein sources: beans, lentils and weird (to me) meat substitutes … and I worry about getting all the essential amino acids.

If you were to ask my family, I would be among the top contenders for world’s pickiest eater.

Several years ago, I made the choice to be vegetarian.
This came as a surprise to my family as I was known as THE meat eater in the family. Then they questioned me as to what I would eat, knowing that I am picky. If I had to narrow it down, I would say that I love dry crunchy foods and raw crunchy veggies.

Plant based protein for picky eaters

Why is protein important?

Protein has been called the building block of life.
Protein is needed by the body to repair tissues and to make enzymes and hormones. It is also used as building blocks for skin, bones, muscles, cartage, and even blood. Protein is made up of combinations of 20 different amino acids. Nine of these amino acids — histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine — are considered essential amino acids that cannot be synthesised by most mammals, including humans. They must be obtained by food sources.
While most people are actually not deficient, I personally worry because I do eat such a limited number of foods and do not eat meat.

Plant Based Protein Sources for Picky Eaters

Quinoa

8 grams of protein per 1 cup (cooked)

Quinoa is an ancient grain, is gluten free and is a good source of iron, zinc and magnesium.

This one I have just started eating on its own.
I usually mix it in with rice. Up to a couple of years ago, rice was on the long list of foods that I would not eat. Quinoa has a crunchier texture than rice which took me a while to get used to.

Hemp Seeds – Hemp Hearts

10 grams of protein per 3 Tablespoons

Hemp hearts are not only a complete protein, but also a good source of Omega-3 and Omega-6. They’re also a good source of iron, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and zinc.

It has a nutty flavour. When I feel a little bit snacky, I will eat a spoonful of hemp hearts. I recently tried hemp hearts as a protein “addition” to my salad. It was okay, but since the salad was wet it was a weird texture experience for me. Looking back, I would have preferred it on the side.
I usually add this to my cereal, granola or add it to chia seeds and it eat with a spoon — dry.
I hate wet and soggy chia seeds.

Spirulina

4 grams of protein per 1 tablespoon (7 grams) of powder

This blue green algae tastes horrible mixed in water and smells funky as a encapsulated supplement. I prefer to take it as a supplement. The usual capsule is about 500 mg. Two capsules would be 1000 mg, which is one gram of spirulina powder. You would have to take 14 capsules to get 14 grams of protein. Not really worth it in my opinion unless you really need the protein. The best way would be to use the powder… but ewww.

Interesting side note.
When I was re-watching Earth 2 a few years ago, my ears perked up when I heard them say they had brought sprirulina with them as their food source. This was after reading about the benefits of it and the author of the natural health book boasting that you could survive solely off of it.

Spirulina is a source of complete protein has good amounts of B vitamins, copper, and iron.

Chia Seeds

4 grams of protein per 2 Tablespoons

Chia seeds are tiny little round seeds that are usually black or white.
They absorb liquid and make a gel like substance. I hear (and read) that people like this. They make chia pudding out of it. It can be used as an egg substitute in baking. It can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, granola and even as a salad topper.
They’re a good source of omega-3, iron, calcium, magnesium, and selenium

Potatoes – A high quality plant based protein source –

8 grams of protein per 299 grams ~ a large potato, baked with skin

Potatoes are unfortunately high in starchy carbohydrates and low in fibre. The fibre is found in the skin. They provide the lowest amount of protein of the common plant based proteins that I actually eat, yet the quality of the protein is actually quite high for it to be a plant based protein. Baking or boiling poatoes with the skin helps to retain the nutrients like Vitamin C, potassium, folate and B6.

Sweet Yellow Corn

5 grams of protein per cup (164 grams)

Like potatoes, corn is high in starchy carbs. Starches can cause a rise in your blood sugar. Fibre can slow the process. One cup of sweet yellow corn has 5 grams of fibre. Sweet yellow corn also

Broccoli

3 grams of protein per 91 grams (1 cup)

I only eat broccoli raw.
For my family, I drizzle the broccoli with some olive oil and garlic powder and roast it.

Its Vitamin C, K1, folate, potassium, manganese, and iron.

Almonds

6 grams of protein per 28 grams ~24 whole unsalted almonds

Almonds contain small amounts of all the essential and non-essential amino acids. When it comes to nuts, almonds have the highest protein content.

Walnuts

4 grams of protein per 28 grams ~ 7 whole or 14 halves

Good source of manganese, copper, magnesium, and phosphorous. Also a good source of B6, folate. and thiamin.

There you have it!
A list of plant based proteins that I, as a picky eater, will eat and enjoy.
Some of these foods are even listed on mood boosting foods post and my immune boosting nutrients post.


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Mood Boosting Foods

mood boosting food

Fatty Fish – Omega-3

Containing Omega-3 essential fatty acids, fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel – even sardines – provide your brain with this nutrient that your body does not produce. Our brains are made up of mostly fat, so it’s important to consume Omega-3 through your diet. Consumption of Omega-3 has been linked with lower levels of depression. It is also very good for your joints, eyes, hair, skin, and nails.
Simply add fish to your meals 3-5 days a week.

Not a fish eater?
Me neither.
You can find some high quality supplements. You can also purchase algae based Omega-3 if you chose not to consume fish. Things I look for is the coating to help with fishy burps. Enteric coatings help to ensure that the pill doesn’t doesn’t dissolve until it’s passed through the stomach. Another thing to be aware of, the dosage. Sure you can find a mega bottle of 1000mg of “Fish Oil” at your local super centre, but if you look closely, you generally get minute amounts of Omega-3. LOOK at the make up of your fish oil. Generally, it’s only a very low amount of DHA and EPA.

You can get Omega-3 from nuts and seeds as well,
Often the amount of DHA and EPA are much lower than with fish or a supplement. Nuts also have Omega-6 which in excess, can cause inflammation.

food boost mood

Additional thoughts on fish consumption.
Try to make sure that your fish, or fish oil is free from mercury and sustainably caught.

Complex Carbohydrates

Full of fibre, complex carbs will help to stabilize blood sugar and help to keep moods and energy levels consistent throughout the day. Most complex carbs are a source of B vitamins which can help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters.
Bonus: fibre helps fill you up so you’re less likely to overeat chips and ice cream.

  • Fibre rich fruits such as apples, berries and bananas
  • Whole grains
  • Fibre rich veggies such as broccoli, leafy greens and carrots
  • Beans and other lentils

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in many mood boosting compounds including flavonoids, caffeine, theobromine, N-acylethanolamine.
Look for 70% or more cocoa content and watch out for added sugars.
It’s best to enjoy 1-2 small squares per day.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi contains probiotics, the good bacteria, that your body needs. Up to 90% of your serotonin is made in your digestive tract so it is important to keep to keep your gut healthy. Look for sugar free versions that you can flavour yourself with berries, cinnamon, vanilla and honey.

Coffee

Caffeine acts as a mild anti-depressant by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, mood boosting neurotransmitters. Caffeine increases alertness and attention by preventing adenosine from attaching to brain receptors that promote tiredness. Decaf coffee has also been shown to increase mood, possibly due to the presence of antioxidants.
Enjoy 1-2 cups a day, but limit consumption in the afternoon and evening so it doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

mood booster coffee caffeine

On the flip side . . . too much caffeine can cause restlessness, anxiety and sleeplessness. So don’t over do the coffee.

Who am I to offer advice?
I am a certified NESTA Lifestyle and Weigh Management Specialist.
I have also worked in the natural health and supplement industry for over a decade. Still, all of this is simply advice. I am sharing information. Talk to your physician or medical professional before making any changes or starting a new program or supplement. I am not here to diagnose. prevent, or treat any disease or illness. I am simply offering advice from a nutritional standpoint.

If your brain doesn’t make the chemicals it needs — store bought is fine!

Please don’t be afraid to talk to someone or get help.
There’s no shame in taking medication to help with moods.
And if one doesn’t work, talk to your medical professional.
There are so many options.
Click here for a list of worldwide helplines


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