If there’s one thing I love… it's food. Every. Single. Type. I love to snack, I love to cook and I love to eat. I’m always looking for new recipes, new foods to try and new places to eat.
About a year ago, my partner and I decided to make the switch to eating mostly vegetarian, or now ‘flexitarian’. When making the change to eat mostly plant-based, I knew I needed to make sure I got enough essential vitamins and nutrients from the food we were eating. Protein is one of those things I THINK I get enough of, but I’m never 100 per cent sure. I love vegetarian food, and I love to pack my meals full of fruits and vegetables, but I’ll admit I could be better on the nutrition side of things to make sure I get enough of the essentials.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, protein is an essential macronutrient that is needed for a healthy, well-rounded diet. They explain that "protein is made from amino acids, and because we don’t store amino acids, our bodies make them in two different ways: either from scratch, or by modifying others".
Nine of these essential amino acids must come from food, meaning protein in our diets is very important. The National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of ‘0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day’.
The good news is there are a few easy tips and tricks to make sure you get enough in your diet, even when eating vegetarian.
1. Get nutty with snacks
Nuts and seeds are a great source of protein that are easy and quick to incorporate into your diet. Things like pistachios, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, hemp seeds, squash and pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds and chia seeds all pack a protein punch.
But if you’re like me, eating straight nuts can get a little... boring. I actually don’t know how people do it. But put some yummy protein balls or baked goods in front of me and I’m IN.
The problem is, protein balls always sound too hard to me. I’ve made them before and while they were DELICIOUS, it took forever and my kitchen was a disaster. Luckily, I just found out that Mt. Elephant have new healthy baking mixes that mean you can make your own Superfood Protein Balls, all in under five minutes. They're free from refined sugar and are made using naturally gluten free ingredients.
They come in three flavours but my personal preference is the ‘Chocolate Hazelnut’, because it includes hazelnuts, hemp seeds and pea protein. Plus hazelnut always makes me think of Nutella… so I’m in.
Whip these up and take one (or two… or three) with you to work, or pack in your kids' lunchboxes, and you’re sorted for a delicious and protein-filled snack.
All you have to do is add water to the mix and blitz or blend. That's it. Ridiculously easy and satisfying at the same time.