Diet and lifestyle go hand-in-hand we are wired to believe off late that carbohydrates in moderation help us sustain our bodies in a much better way. Proteins are complex and filling and help the body to be active for a longer period of time and with minimal consumption. Animal sources of protein are better utilised by the body, however vegetarian sources are equally good if not better.
Paneer: The most rich vegetarian source of protein there is available, it can easily be incorporated in salads, eaten raw, cooked in a gravy, added as a topping on toasts etc. There is an option of consuming the same either made of full fat milk or made of the lower fat varieties. Whichever be the nature of consumption, ultimately it makes for a complete protein intake which substantiates the bodies building process, keeping you fit and healthy both.
Tofu: A very rich source of Soya bean protein, it tastes similar to paneer but has a more synthetic taste. Tofu is widely used in Asian cooking and asian salads, however off late it has made it way to a regular diners kitchen too, owing to its high nutritional and natural protein value. It can be thrown into a salad, tossed with noodles and also mixed with a stir fry veggie or broth of soup and enjoyed!
Soya Chunks: These wondrous chunks may seem to be the most insipid food by the looks of it. However, they make for a great meal and definitely house all the protein you need. Easy to make and they have a gorgeous meaty flavour, that adds a depth in flavour and makes your meal tasty and wholesome making sure you get the protein value from the meal.
Soya chunks make for brilliant vegetable and chinese stir fries along with a dash of seasoning a bowl full can be a meal in itself. Soya chunks are available in smaller chiplets as well, these are easier to make a kheema out of and enjoy wit bread or chapatis.
Lentils: This food variety is predominant in an Indian staple diet and yes, they are a powerhouse of protein. “Dal” is the best comfort food, it can be made into a soup, or enjoyed with palak, you name it and there are a hundred different recipes in place for a perfect dal. Lentil can even be sprouted and consumed in salads and eaten as a breakfast food with salt and pepper and some lime juice. They are a very high source of protein and ensures that your diet is always compensated with a healthy dose of just what you need to feel satiated and not guilty about the calories.
Bean Curd: Derived from the same source as soya bean. Bean curd is used in many oriental dishes, although it is very similar tasting to soya bean protein, it is consumed in a different manner. This source of protein is slowly gaining ground in Indian markets as people travel more and get those cultures and habits to our markets. Bean curd is commonly called “Tempeh” As the name suggests it is not consumed in a curd form, but very similar to tofu. It can be deep-fried and added to stir fries, soups,broths,noodles and rice preparations too. The taste is a little synthetic and acquired, but for those who have enjoyed it once seem to continue enjoying the same.
Eggs: Hands down the richest source of protein there is. Many a vegetarian has understood the value of eggs and eat only eggs and no other form of non vegetarian food, this class of people are termed as “Eggetarians” Minus the yolk, egg whites form the diet of athletes and others too who are trying to increase their protein intake. Eggs are tasty when made well, omelette, sunny-side-ups, scrambled eggs, they are a perfect binding source and added to cutlets and a key ingredient in cakes. Eggs in moderation can be consumed everyday as your daily source of protein.
Quinoa: The quintessential quinoa has become a part of many salads and main courses alike. A very rich source of protein and anti-oxidant both, it tastes a little like “methi” and is easy to soak and prepare, this does not need too much pre-preparation. Since, this is a fairly easy ingredient to consume, although it is slightly expensive. A packet ranges from anywhere between INR 450-600. Although this came in as a fad diet ingredient last year it has gained ground and continues to be a part of high protein alternatives. Incase you get your hand on a packet do try and see if the taste works for you.
Spinach: A must add to any diet, spinach stands at a 49% high value in terms of protein percentage. Easily assimilated by the body, this vegetable can be tossed in a pan with garlic or added to dal and consumed. Be careful not to cook this too much as it instantly loses its value on excessive heat. Spinach in the fresh form is the best kind to consume, do not opt for the dry varieties as they do not make for the value that is needed to meet the dietary requirement.
Broccoli: This jewel of a vegetable stands a close second to spinach with a protein percentage of 45%. Include this great vegetable, in a combination with other vegetables such as mushrooms and beans. Broccoli is easily available at a vegetable vendor and price points are not too high either, they are well affordable and can be consumed by pulling it into a thick soup or just by sautéing large chunks.
Make inclusions for the above in your diet and you will see a vast difference in your energy levels and how you respond to good dietary proteins. With knowledge of the options we have apart from paneer for vegetarians we can add value to an otherwise seemingly boring spectrum of options. Do you know of any more proteins that can boost up dietary requirements? Let us know in the comments section below.