Health Benefits of Adding More Plant-Based
Whole Foods to Your Diet
There are many benefits of incorporating more plant-based whole foods into your diet, even if you’re not vegan or vegetarian. That’s right — you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to benefit from this eating style! In fact, virtually every "name brand" diet recognizes the importance of plant-based foods to some extent, encouraging the addition of whole foods like antioxidant-rich leafy greens and fiber-filled veggies.
If you think about it, plant-based foods in their whole form are some of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet! Foods like colorful fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, whole grains, beans, and legumes are not only balanced in macronutrients (including plant-based protein), but they’re also full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
A diet rich in plant foods is associated with:
Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
Heart health improvements
Reduced risk for cardiovascular disease
Reduced risk for Type 2 Diabetes
Weight loss support
The Benefits of a High Protein Breakfast
A protein-rich diet is equally as important! Similar to the benefits of plant-based whole foods, kicking off your day with a protein-packed meal is very beneficial.
A protein-packed breakfast increases satiety and prevents overeating, reduces cravings for not-so-healthy foods, regulates hormones (especially ghrelin and leptin, our hunger hormones), and supports energy and metabolism.
The good news is that getting adequate amounts of plant-based protein in your morning meal is easier than you think. Prepare to be fueled, satiated, and satisfied!
10 Ways to Add More Plant-Based Protein to Your Breakfast
#1 Protein-Packed Smoothies
Sans protein powder! That’s right — you can make a protein-rich smoothie with whole food ingredients — no protein powder needed.
My favorite smoothie ingredients for a nourishing protein-packed, plant-based breakfast include:
Almond butter: 1 tablespoon = 3.5 grams of protein
Peanut butter: 1 tablespoon = 4 grams of protein
Hemp seeds: 1 tablespoon = 3 grams of protein
Chia seeds: 1 tablespoon = 2 grams of protein
Kale: 1 cup = 3 grams of protein
Avocado: ½ avocado = 3 grams of protein
Oats: ½ cup = 6 grams of protein
With this in mind, let’s blend up something nutritious and delicious, shall we?! Packed with plant-based protein from almond butter, avocado, and chia seeds, whip up this Blueberry Banana Protein Smoothie for a healthy start to the day.
1 banana, chopped
1¼ cups unsweetened almond milk
¼ tsp ground ginger (optional)
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup baby spinach
1 tbsp almond butter
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 cups frozen blueberries
Step #1: Place all the ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. If using fresh blueberries, add some ice to make the smoothie nice and cold.
#2 Meal-Prep Overnight Oats
Did you know that a ½ cup of oats contains nearly 6 grams of plant-based protein? And that’s without any additional ingredients added! If you include other protein-rich ingredients like nut butter, plant-based milk, and chia seeds, you’re looking at a mighty tasty breakfast loaded with plant-based fuel. One of my favorite ways to combine these tasty ingredients is with a mouth-watering overnight oats recipe! The perfect busy-morning breakfast.
Need some meal-prep inspiration? Try this Blueberry Almond Overnight Oats recipe!
1 tbsp almond butter
½ cup oats
⅔ cup blueberries
2 tsp chia seeds
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ cup unsweetened almond milk
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Step #1: Mix together the almond milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and almond butter.
Step #2: Add the remaining ingredients and stir well to combine. Place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours for the oats to soften.
Step #3: Serve cold right from the fridge, room temperature, or heat up in the microwave. Add an extra splash of milk if needed if the mixture becomes too thick.
#3 Plant-Based Protein Energy Bites
Make a batch of protein-packed energy bites using plant-based ingredients. When you’re in need of on-the-go energy, it’s the easiest way to fuel your morning while satisfying your sweet tooth. Plus, you can easily adjust the flavor or customize the recipe with your favorite ingredients (like adding in cacao powder or swapping out PB for almond butter).
Try this yummy Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookie Dough Protein Ball recipe! Made with creamy peanut butter, fiber rich chia seeds, and protein-packed chickpeas, it will keep you satiated and satisfied all morning long. P.S. while it tastes like a decadent treat (ahem, raw cookie dough), it’s made with whole food ingredients.
1 tbsp chia seeds
½ cup peanut butter
⅓ cup chocolate chips
1 tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp vanilla extract
15 oz chickpeas
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp maple syrup
Step #1: Drain and rinse chickpeas. Dry them with a paper towel and discard any chickpea skins that fall off. Don’t worry about removing them all, just the ones that naturally come off.
Step #2: Add chickpeas, peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract, chia seeds, and cinnamon to a food processor. Blend until smooth and creamy. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Step #3: Use your hands to roll into 1 inch balls. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
#4 Chickpea-Topped Avocado Toast
Give traditional avocado toast a plant-powered upgrade. Make your favorite avocado toast recipe, and simply top it with a serving of roasted chickpeas! In addition to adding 5 grams of protein per half-cup serving, roasted chickpeas also provide a tasty and flavorful crunch!
Some other protein-packed plant-based toppings? Try a sprinkle of hemp seeds or nutritional yeast!
#5 Loaded Breakfast Tacos
This savory breakfast option is a satisfying way to fuel up on protein-packed plant foods. Protein-rich ingredients like black beans, chickpeas, avocado, and kale make for filling and flavorful additions! You can even add in crumbled tofu or tempeh for an added boost. Wrap it all up in your favorite breakfast tortilla (which can be protein-packed too… hello chickpea tortillas!) and dig in.
When you’re craving dinner for breakfast, give these Vegetarian Burrito Bowls a go! Made with cauliflower rice for a lighted-up option that’s full of protein.
1 cup cauliflower rice
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp taco seasoning
14 oz tofu, extra firm, crumbled
14 oz kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp tomato paste
guacamole, to serve
cilantro, to serve
Step #1: Start by heating the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
Step #2: Next, add the crumbled tofu, kidney beans, tomato paste, and taco seasoning and stir well to combine.
Step #3: Cook for 2 minutes and then add a tablespoon of water to the pan. Cover and cook for 4 more minutes.
Step #4: Add the cauliflower rice to the bottom of a serving bowl and top with the tofu taco mix.
Step #5: Serve with guacamole and cilantro. Enjoy!
#6 Creamy Chia Pudding
Aside from their rich fiber content (a whopping 5 grams per tablespoon), chia seeds are packed with healthy fats and plant-based protein. The takeaway? They make for the most satiating, nutritious meal!
Try this simple Easy Prep Vanilla Cinnamon Chia Seed Pudding recipe!
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 tbsp chia seeds
3 tbsp sliced almonds
½ tsp cinnamon
½ cup mixed berries
2 tsp coconut sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
Drizzle of nut butter, such as almond or cashews
Fresh berries of choice
Step #1: Combine the almond milk, coconut sugar, and vanilla. Taste and adjust sweetness and vanilla strength if needed.
Step #2: Stir in the chia seeds until well mixed.
Step #3: Refrigerate for 4 hours. Stir before serving. Add the mixed berries and sliced almonds. Option to serve with toppings of choice!
Fuel Your Day, The Plant-Powered Way!
As you can see, starting the day with a nourishing protein-packed breakfast can be quite simple. There are so many ways to mix and match your favorite plant-based foods to create a tasty, protein-rich meal. And, you don’t have to be fully plant-based to reap the benefits! Any eating plan can benefit from the addition of extra plant-based protein or plant-based whole foods, in general! So, go ahead and fuel up the plant-powered way.
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