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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Immune Boosting Nutrients

Immune boosting foods

Your immune system is like that friend you have that is just there, hanging out, chilling and being cool until someone threatens you — then they are ready to attack. Unless they are inebriated, then there is no telling what they will do, or when. That would be like an autoimmune disease/disorder.
I will admit, I am not the best with analogies.
Also, that pretty much describes me as a friend.

foods to help build immune system

In all seriousness, healthy immune systems are something that some people take for granted. When it functions properly, our immune system seeks out threats such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites and triggers an immune response to fight off the invaders and destroy them.

Keeping your immune system running at tip-top shape is important to make sure that your body is ready and in fighting shape!
I’ve put together a shortlist of some of the most important nutrients to help keep your immune system boosted and running optimally. I’ve added some examples of foods that are good sources of these nutrients.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important nutrient needed for tissue and bone growth and repair. Unfortunately, the human body doesn’t create any. Studies have shown that Vitamin C can help boost the immune system and ward off viruses such as the common cold. It is best to get this vitamin from your foods. Fruits and vegetables are usually the best sources. Vitamin C is also essential for the body to be able to absorb Iron.
Light and heat can destroy Vitamin C in foods, so consuming fresh and uncooked sources is best.

Food Sources of Vitamin C

  • Citrus fruits
  • Peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Leafy Greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is needed in the body for calcium and phosphorous absorption and regulation. Sun exposure is one of the easiest, efficient, and most reliable ways to get this vitamin. By exposing the hands, arms, legs, and face to sunlight two or three times a week for about a quarter of the time that it would take for you to get a sunburn will allow the skin enough time to produce Vitamin D. There is not a definite set amount of time (eg 17 minutes) as it will vary according to age, skin type, location, time of year and time of day. Older people have been found to have less receptors for Vitamin D in their skin. Darker skin tends to absorb less Vitamin D due to evolutionary traits. Being low in Vitamin D can compromise the immune system and also cause fatigue.
Vitamin D deficiency is really common. It has been suggested that Canadians are at risk for year round deficiency. Anyone living in northern latitudes or are darker skin may be deficient and it may be worth having your physician test your Vitamin D levels.

Natural and Food Sources of Vitamin D

  • Sun – with caution
  • Fatty fish
  • Egg yolk
  • Liver
  • Cheese
  • Vitamin D Fortified foods

Zinc

Zinc in an essential trace mineral element. The body only needs a small amount of it, and it doesn’t store it. Zinc has shown to be effective against viruses. It usually lessens the symptoms of the common cold. Zinc helps the body activate white blood cells and is needed for wound healing.

Food Sources of Zinc

  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Eggs

Selenium

Selenium, a mineral found in the soil, water and some foods. It is needed in body to ensure that many of the bodily processes are carried out correctly. Selenium increases the actions of antioxidants in the body and helps to protect the cells. Most of the selenium that we get is from food, and it vary based on where the food originates. A selenium deficiency can result in an under active thyroid and high blood pressure during pregnancy.

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Dairy
  • Whole grains
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Walnuts

The best way to stay healthy is to eat a well-balanced diet and to incorporate some exercise for musculoskeletal and cardio health.
The key is to try and maintain good health, not just try to fix things once you’re sick. If you can’t get all of your nutrients from food, talk to your i-health care provider about adding in a vitamin or a multi-vitamin.

Don’t forget about sleep!!
Not just any sleep, but a good restorative sleep with help your body be in the right condition to help fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria.
Stress will also take a toll on your immune system too. Check out my post for five of the best foods that can help improve and boost your mood.

Who am I to offer advice?
I am a certified NESTA Lifestyle and Weigh Management Nutritional Specialist. I have also worked in the natural health and supplement industry for over a decade. All of my free time was spent reading and learning about nutrition in hopes of keeping myself, family, and customers as healthy as possible.
Still, all of this is simply advice and presented for educational purposes. I am simply 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.

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