If you eat few or no animal products, you have to be mindful of protein intake. Protein is a key nutrient that is often underconsumed in vegetarian diets. A number of plant-based foods can help satisfy the dietary requirement for protein.
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Eggs for Omelets
Eggs, which contain approximately 6 grams of protein each, are one of the highest-quality, most easily digestible sources of protein available. If you are an ovo-vegetarian, or one who eats eggs, a veggie omelet can be a great, high-protein way to start your day. Simply add vegetables like mushrooms, peppers and onions to your eggs, and you'll have a balanced meal that provides protein as well as the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients present in vegetables.
Tofu, Rice and Steamed Veggies
Soybeans, unlike most other plant-based foods, are rich in protein. They can be used to be make a number of foods, including tofu -- a versatile, soy-based product that contains about 10 grams of protein per 1/2-cup serving. Tofu goes great with healthy carbohydrates such as brown rice and steamed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini.
Rice and Beans
Animal foods are complete proteins, meaning they contain sufficient amounts of all essential amino acids. Certain nonanimal foods are incomplete proteins because they are lacking one or more of the essential amino acids. However, certain plant foods have amino acid profiles that complement each other and therefore are known as complementary proteins. One of the most notable examples of complementary proteins is rice and beans. Combining these two foods gives you a complete protein that can be served along with a side salad for a healthy, protein-rich meal.
Quinoa and Veggies
Quinoa is a grain similar to rice with a lighter, fluffier texture. It is one of the few plant foods that offers a complete protein. Combine it with herbs and vegetables such as carrots, tomatoes and celery to make a quinoa salad. Quinoa also goes great in soups.