food

5 simple hacks to increase protein in your diet without having to eat more meat.

Mt. Elephant
Thanks to our brand partner, Mt. Elephant

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. 

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My mouth is watering just looking at them. Image: Supplied.

 

2. Breakfast is key

While eggs are an obvious source of protein for anyone who's vegetarian, if you're vegan (or just not a fan of eggs), an alternative is a breakfast high in whole grains. Whole grains are packed with fibre and protein that will help you avoid the inevitable energy crashes that come with eating processed carbs and sugary breakfasts.

Ingredients like almond meal and buckwheat are good ways to include more whole grains into your diet. 

But while these superfoods are excellent sources of protein, fibre and energy, it's not always easy to use them to whip up something in the morning. You're busy, you're time-poor, and you need something quick. 

That's why Mt. Elephant's quick step baking products, including their delicious pancake and bread mixes have done all of the hard work for you. Each mix is packed with plant-based nutrients and superfoods such as maca, lucuma and buckwheat flour to save you time when it comes to shopping and prep. All you need to do is add water and your favourite toppings.  

Heaven. Image: Supplied.

 

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3. Get baking!

Another way I like to ensure I get enough protein is to sneak it into baked goods. Muffins, cookies, cakes - you name it - it’s really easy to sneak some form of protein in there while you cook. I like to do this with a pea protein powder or a hemp protein. 

One of my favourite baked goods is banana bread, but being so bloody time poor lately, I never get the chance to make it. I don't normally like using packet mixes as they often have hidden nasties in them, but recently I came across Mt. Elephant's (naturally gluten-free) Banana Bread Protein Mix that contains only real ingredients. It's super quick to whip up and pop in the oven, and includes buckwheat, almond meal and flaxseed (and no refined sugars). This means your protein needs are covered, and you won't get a sugar crash later on. 

To make it an extra yummy snack, I like to add some walnuts and blueberries into my banana bread. Trust me, try it and you won’t be disappointed. 


Delicious. Image: Supplied.

 

4. Make your bread count

Obviously for most people, bread is a breakfast staple. But swapping out your regular bread in the morning with a super tasty and nutritious protein bread can be a game changer.

Mt. Elephant's Savoury Protein Bread Mix is packed with almond meal, buckwheat and rosemary, so from all the nutrients, one slice is all you need. You'll be amazed at how full you feel and won't get that horrible energy crash you sometimes get from all of the processed white breads out there.  

My tip is to have one piece, lightly toasted and topped with avocado. You'll feel like you're eating at a very healthy, very fancy cafe!

 

Breakfast = sorted. Image: Supplied.

 

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5. Add beans to everything

My last hack is to add beans to as many meals as possible! 

Lentils, chickpeas, pinto beans, any tinned beans - they’re all great sources of protein. What I’ve learnt since cooking more vegetarian food is that beans really help add flavour and bulk out a meal, and you can add them to almost everything. For example, I love to throw in some lentils with grated carrot and zucchini to make an epic vegetarian bolognese.

Image: Supplied.

You can also use beans in lots of different sauces, too. I am adding this hemp, lime and white bean pesto to my recipe list to try. It looks incredible. 

You can find Mt. Elephant naturally nourishing Baking Mixes in the Woolworths Baking aisle or online at www.mtelephant.com.au 

 

Mt. Elephant
Our deliciously decadent baking mixes are all plant-based, naturally nourishing and have been designed to make the ordinary, extraordinary. Naturally gluten free, vegan-friendly and free from refined sugar, everything we create is specially formulated to provide you with the nutritional support to help your mind and body shine. We're here to show you that living a nutritious lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated.
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