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Plant Protein | Why We Need It, Recipes, and Common Mistakes

What’s a Protein and why do we need it?

We’ve always known that protein helps us get those big muscles! Recently, we have learned of protein’s role in helping to support healthy metabolism, energy levels and it’s role in cellular communication (“messages” by way of hormones).

Proteins are made up of a variety of amino acids. There are essential and nonessential amino acids. The body does not make essential amino acids and they must be consumed via our diet and can be found in both animal and vegetable sources. The quality and quantity of protein consumed plays a key role in your health.

How to get your essential amino acids from plants:

Histidine: Edamame

Dip it: 1/4 cup of organic edamame hummus and use non-starchy vegetables (cucumber, zucchini, green peppers, cauliflower)


Organic edamame, avocado and tomato salad:

  • 1/2 cup organic edamame

  • 1/4 cup organic avocado, organic tomato, organic onion, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, basil

Isoleucine: Quinoa

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa

  • 1/4 cup organic blueberries

  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  • 1 tsp. vanilla stevia

Leucine: Hemp seeds

Hemp smoothie:

  • 3 Tbsp. hemp protein powder

  • 1 cup distilled water or unsweetened nondairy milk

  • 1/2 organic banana

  • 1/2 cup organic raspberries

  • 1 cup organic spinach

Lysine: Cremini mushrooms

  • 1/2 grain free tortilla brushed with 1/8 cup organic marinara sauce

  • 1/2 cup Cremini mushrooms sautéed with garlic, organic onions, organic red peppers

  • optional dairy free cheese

  • bake in oven at 350 degrees for 7-9 minutes

Tryptophan: Organic kale

  • shredded raw kale massaged with 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil and juice from 1/2 lemon or lime

  • 1/4 cup shredded organic carrots

  • 1 Tbsp. sunflower seeds

  • 1 Tbsp. hemp hearts

  • 1 organic pear diced


  • 1 serving of organic kale chips

  • 1/4 cup pistachios

Methionine: Pine nuts

  • sautée 2 cups of organic spinach and 1 garlic clove in 1 Tbsp. olive oil

  • stir in 2 Tbsp. pine nuts

  • mix in 1/2 cup cooked lentil pasta

Phenylalanine: Organic tofu or tempeh

  • 2/3 cup of organic tofu taco crumbles with sautéed organic veggies

  • sprinkle with 1/4 cup peanuts or drizzled with 2 Tbsp. melted peanut butter

Threonine: Kidney beans

  • unlimited greens

  • 1/2 cup kidney beans

  • organic tomatoes, organic onions, organic green peppers

  • 1/4 cup organic avocado

  • 2 Tbsp. salsa as “dressing”

Valine: Almonds

  • 1/2 organic sweet potato, lightly steamed (still want it hard), cut lengthwise into thick slices, spray or spread 1 Tbsp. total of coconut oil on one side of each slice

  • grill or pan fry until brown

  • remove from heat and sprinkle 1/4 cup chopped almonds atop the slices (can use almond butter instead and blend hemp hearts into the almonds)


  • Trail mix: 2 cups air-popped organic popcorn lightly oiled with coconut oil

  • 2 Tbsp. chopped almonds

  • 1 Tbsp. organic cacao nibs

  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut

Common Protein Mistakes:

  1. To get complete plant protein it has to all be eaten at once. It was once believed that you had to eat your rice and beans together so that their aminos would be assembled into a complete protein. We now know that can occur over 24 hours or longer. Plus, there are several plants that offer complete proteins, such as hemp seeds, organic soy (tofu, tempeh, milk and edamame) and quinoa.

  2. It’s true that the body needs protein daily, but it can get too much. Too much protein overwhelms the digestive system, kidneys and liver. How do you know if you are getting enough protein? Your protein intake requirements are specific to you: age, weight, Lifestage, and health goals. This is an excellent question for you to talk over with your health care practitioner. (Better Protein Evaluation is something I can help you with). Knowing how much protein you should be consuming on a daily basis can lead to better energy, digestion and recovery!

  3. All protein sources are not created equal. Protein sources can come in the form of whole, unprocessed foods (quinoa, beans, cashews, hemp seeds) or processed (hemp protein concentrate, almond butter, chickpea flour, etc.) into a protein powder, smoothie or bar. Seek better quality protein versus more protein!

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