The combination of increasing health concerns over saturated fat in meat and increased interest in vegetarian cooking has more people than ever experimenting with vegetarian and vegan sources of protein.
Beans are considered star choices when it comes to vegetarian foods for protein. In addition to their high protein count, they are rich in antioxidants, iron, folic acid, zinc, potassium, and fiber. Plus, they are low in fat. But the Huffington Post reports that although beans are a good source of vegetarian protein, they are an incomplete protein. Proteins are made from nine essential amino acids. A complete protein, like meat, eggs, and poultry, contains all nine of these amino acids. Most proteins that come from plants, on the other hand, are incomplete. This means that in order to prepare a meal that is “complete”, you must combine different sources of vegetarian proteins.
Complete Vegetarian Proteins
It is relatively simple to create delicious vegetarian complete protein combinations for your meals. A good rule of thumb is to serve beans and grains together. For example, if you choose lentils as your vegetarian protein, you can make it complete by serving it with bulgur. Other grain and bean combo are pasta and peas, hummus and pita bread, and tortillas with refried beans. Also, you can always opt for quinoa or soy, two vegetarian complete proteins.
Beans for Diet Meal Ideas
- Fiesta Bean Dip – This can be served as a dip or a side. All you need is nonfat refried beans, pinto beans, salsa, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and sliced scallions. Heat the beans with half the cheese over the stove until hot, then scoop into a pan and top with the remaining cheese and scallions. Broil for about 2 minutes, or until cheese is lightly browned. Serve with whole grain tortilla chips.
- Beans and Rice – This classic staple is a protein boost and will fill you up fast! Fry one chopped onion with vegetable oil for five minutes, then add a clove of minced garlic and fry for another five minutes. Stir in 2 cups of cooked beans until heated through, then season with salt and peper. Serve with cooked brown rice.
There are plenty of reasons to incorporate beans into your daily diet. Besides being great for your body, they are easy to prepare, versatile, and delicious!
- “Get your body full of beans”, BBC
- “How Many Beans Equal The Protein of Chicken”, Huffington Post
Better meals begin with better planning. We can help.