Our Health Nut and Registered Dietitian, Molly Morgan, answers our customers’ most pressing health and nutrition questions!
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Q: I am a vegetarian who has celiac disease. Like a lot of people with celiac disease, I am very sensitive to soy, dairy, and nuts — sadly, all those things that can give me the protein I need to stay strong, keep healthy and have the energy for the workouts I love. I am a big fan of chia seeds, hulled hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, and I seem to be able to handle these in small amounts. Can you recommend any other easy-to-digest, high-protein foods that would be beneficial to me? For example, I have heard some people rave about maca powder, but am not sure how much protein it provides. – Diane
A: Focusing on adequate protein is definitely important, and it sounds like you are already including a lot of great foods in your diet! Regarding maca powder, 0.5 ounces of maca powder contains around 2 grams of protein, so this could help boost your intake, although maca powder is mostly known for its energy-boosting effects. Read more about maca.
When you’re looking for vegetarian protein sources that are not soy, dairy or nut based, here are a few foods to try!
Falafel is a mixture of ground beans that are seasoned, and it can make a great quick snack or meal. This product is certified gluten-free, and just two ounces of the mix contains 12 grams of plant-based protein thanks to the mixture of beans, which includes fava beans and garbanzo beans. Try eating falafel on a sliced of gluten-free bread or pita topped with sliced cucumbers and tomatoes!
In general, beans are a great source of plant-based protein. For example, in 1.4 ounces of gluten-free cranberry beans, there are 8 grams of protein. Try making a cranberry bean salad with diced onion, pepper, and an olive oil and vinegar dressing. It would make a great side dish with meals, or a quick snack.
If you are sensitive to nuts for digestive reasons rather than because of an allergy, smooth nut butters like almond butter are often easier to digest and may be well tolerated. One ounce of nut butter (about a golf ball serving size) has around 5 grams of protein.
Spirulina, the blue-green algae, is protein packed and may be great for you to keep on hand and work into your eating routine. One ounce of spirulina contains 16 grams of protein (by weight, spirulina is about 55-77% protein), and this product is certified gluten-free! Consider adding a small amount to juices, smoothies or guacamole.
This recent Health Nut blog post on vegan nutrition may also be helpful!
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