Canada has updated its food guide for the first time since 2007. Now, we’re looking at a plate instead of a rainbow, and “dairy” and “meat & alternatives” have been combined into “protein foods.” Fruit juice is also out-of-sight and has been replaced with the recommendation that we choose water with our meals.
According to the new guide, Canadians should split their plate like this:
- half for fruits and vegetables
- quarter for whole grains
- quarter for protein foods
Simple, healthy, and sensible. I love it.
I’m hoping these changes will help Canadians see the true complexity of protein and realize that meat is not the only option. It’s still an option, sure, but most households consume far more than a sustainable share and reducing meat consumption is a good goal for any eco-den.
But how? I know it can be difficult to look at plant-based foods and see them as sources of protein, so that’s why I’ve compiled this list of the best options for anyone looking to add more variety to their diet.
How much protein do you really need?
Adequate protein intake is essential for healthy living, but the exact amount of protein someone needs each day depends on several factors including their gender, age, level of activity, muscle mass, and overall state of health.
As a general rule, the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound.
This general guideline for sedentary males amounts to 56 grams of protein per day. For sedentary women, it amounts to 46 grams.
9 of the best plant-based protein sources
Three ounces of seitan provides between 15-21 grams of plant-based protein. The reason for the range, according to Healthline, is that during processing other proteins like soy or legume flours may be added.
Haven’t heard of it? That’s okay, it’s probably one of the best kept secrets in the vegan and vegetarian communities. Seitan may sound scary, but it’s actually pretty delicious and resembles the texture of meat quite nicely. It’s made from vital wheat gluten and often referred to as “wheat meat.”
- Seitan Roast from No Meat Bare Feet
- Vegan Meatballs from The Stingy Vegan
- Vegan Grillable Burger Patties from The Cheeky Chickpea
Lentils have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight, and certain cancers.
Plus, they’re one of the most eco-friendly foods you can choose as they have an incredibly low carbon footprint.
- Creamy Coconut Lentil Curry from The Endless Meal
- Moroccan Sweet Potato and Lentil Stew from Little Spice Jar
- Lentil Bolognese with Spaghetti from Bianca Zapatka
- Spicy Chickpea Burgers from Running on Real Food
- Mediterranean Chickpea Salad from Chelsea’s Messy Apron
- Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas from Joy Food Sunshine
4. Nutritional Yeast
One tablespoon of fortified nutritional yeast provides 2 grams of complete protein, along with a dairy-free cheesy flavour. It’s also a powerhouse of B vitamins and contains trace minerals like zinc.
Nutritional yeast makes for a nutrient-rich seasoning in a wide-variety of recipes. Don’t let the fish food-like texture deter you. It’s great on popcorn, pizza, pasta, and in salad dressings.
- “Cheesy” Roasted Cauliflower from The Roasted Root
- Vegan Broccoli and Cheese Soup from fooduzzi
- 5-Ingredient Salad Dressing from Whole New Mom
A half cup of raw oats provides nearly 17 grams of plant-based protein, along with antioxidants and more soluble fiber than other grains.
Oats have been shown to lower levels of bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Carrot Cake Overnight Oats from Forks over Knives
- Apple Oat No Bake Bites from My Kids Lick the Bowl
- Blueberry Oat Muffins from My Fitness Pal
6. Hemp Seeds
The nutrients in hemp seeds have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. And no, eating hemp seeds cannot get you intoxicated.
- Superseed Truffles from Dramatic Pancake
- Hemp Seed Tabouli from Oh She Glows
- Pear and Beet Salad with Ginger Hemp Dressing from Eating Bird Food
7. Green Peas
These little green gems are also an eco-friendly favourite because their crops actually work to fix nitrogen issues in soil.
- Baked Green Pea Fritters from Wallflower Kitchen
- Spinach and Green Pea Soup from Ahead of Thyme
- Cauliflower, Potato, and Green Pea Daal from Flourishing Foodie
One ounce of peanuts provides just over 7 grams of plant-based protein. Nuts in general are a good choice because they provide a healthy dose of cholesterol-free fat and support cardiovascular health. To keep it healthy, stick with unsalted varieties and choose raw options when available.
- Vegan Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato from Lazy Cat Kitchen
- Cold Peanut Noodle Salad from Savory Tooth
- Coconut Red Lentil Peanut Soup from Yummly
Broccoli also provides a rich source of fiber and cancer-preventing antioxidants. It’s also known as a great food for detox diets as it can help clean your cells of toxins.
- Broccoli Salad with Maple Mustard Dressing from She Likes Food
- Very Veggie Fried Rice from Cooking Classy
- Immune-Boosting Broccoli Soup from The Harvest Kitchen
Cover image credit: Edgar Castrejon