Adding in vegetarian sources of protein is a great way to boost nutrition and reduce your carbon foot print.  Try adding these plant powerhouse foods to your diet.

  1. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) is often mistaken as a grain, but is actually a seed cooked like rice.  Quinoa is gluten-free, and a complete protein meaning it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids the body cannot make and must be obtained from diet.  There are over 100 different types of quinoa that come in an array of colors.  Quinoa has a low glycemic index to provide long lasting energy and to support a lean body composition.

Tip: It is important to rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before cooking to wash off its bitter saponin.  To cook quinoa, combine 1 cup rinsed quinoa with 2 cups water and bring to a boil for 12-15 minutes stirring often.  Quinoa is done when its “tail” or the germ of the seed, is released. Quinoa is a delicate grain and placing the hot quinoa on a baking sheet after cooking helps to avoid clumping and a fluffier product.

Note:  Make meal prep easy by preparing large batches of quinoa, let cool, portion & freeze.  

  1. Chia Seeds

In the nut and seed world, chia seeds are like the valedictorian who is also the president of the class!  Chia seeds are a complete protein, are rich in fiber, calcium, antioxidants, and are an excellent source omega-3 fatty acids!  Their nutty flavor is similar to a cross between sunflower seeds and pine nuts.

Tip: Chia seeds are really tiny!  Its best to eat them ground up in a smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal.  They can also be soaked prior to eating producing a gelatinous, bubbly texture similar to tapioca. Chia seeds are versatile and easy to add to your favorite foods!

  1. Edamame

Eda-whaty?  Edamame, or boiled soy beans, are more delicious than they may sound, and are a great way to ramp up your intake of protein, fiber, and iron.  Often featured at Japanese restaurants, edamame makes a protein rich snack, and can also added to entrees like stir fry and salads, or pureed into dips like hummus.

Tip: Edamame can be prepared in their shell.  Simply bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add edamame and cook for 5 to 7 mins.  You can gently squeeze the pod to release the edamame or purchase shelled edamame as well!

  1. Pumpkin seeds

Also known as pepitas, these crunchy seeds boast a trifecta of important nutrients including zinc for a strong immune system, magnesium for a healthy heart, and omega fats for healthy skin, strong hair, and for boosting mood!  When you’re on the go, pumpkin seeds can be a great option!  Keep a bag in your car, office, or mix with other seeds, nuts and dried fruit for a delicious snack or topping to your morning cereal.

Tip: Pepitas can be purchased roasted or you can do so yourself!  To roast them, preheat your oven to 300 degrees. Make sure pumpkin seeds are washed & dried; then toss seeds with olive oil, salt and any desired seasonings. Spread seeds on a baking sheet and cook for 15-20 mins.

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