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Five High Protein Sources You Need In Your Life If You Are A Vegetarian

For vegetarians, the quest for ample protein sources can be a tiring one with several confusing questions.

By Nandita Iyer
New Update
vegetarian sources of protein

Navigating the world of nutrition and healthy eating often feels like deciphering a complex code, as if a Ph.D. is required to plan and cook a healthy meal for yourself and your family.

However, simplifying this process can be achieved by following a straightforward rule: build your meals with a balance of protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates (this provides fibre). This trio ensures not only great overall health but also aids in weight loss, thanks to the satisfying nature of a meal rich in protein, fats, and fibre, which diminishes the desire to snack between meals.

For vegetarians, the quest for ample protein sources can be a tiring one, with questions like "Is dal sufficient as a protein source?" or "How can we meet our daily protein needs?" looming large. 

In this column, I present five top-notch protein sources for vegetarians, along with a bonus revelation, and dal is not one of them.

Skyr – 11g/ 100g

Skyr is an Icelandic yogurt with a higher percentage of protein, vitamins, and minerals as compared to Greek yogurt with less fat. It’s a moment to rejoice that an Indian brand has added skyr to its portfolio, and it’s fairly reasonably priced too (Rs.30/100g). To compare 100 grams of Milky Mist brand’s Greek yogurt and Skyr head to head, Greek yogurt has 74 calories, 7 grammes (gms) of protein, 6.5 gms carbohydrates, and 2.2 gms of fat while Skyr has 95 calories, 11 gms of protein, 9.5 gms carbohydrates and 1.5 gms fat. 

How To Eat:

It’s good to stock this in the fridge for an instant protein-rich snack or pick me up. Here are some ways to add it to your meals:

Chop up cucumber, onions, lettuce, roasted sweet potatoes, and cherry tomatoes (add grilled chicken chopped into bite-sized pieces to this or hard-boiled eggs). Make a dressing by combining 100g Skyr with some olive oil, grated garlic, roasted cumin powder (or mustard sauce), and salt. 

Grated cabbage, steamed cooked until soft (or microwaved) combined with Skyr and a tempering of green chilies, mustard seeds, and curry leaves tastes as good as curd rice. You can add part soft cooked rice and part cabbage too.

Skyr can also be blended with a fruit of choice or frozen berries along with some soaked chia seeds and set in popsicle moulds for a healthy protein-fibre-rich summer treat.

Greek Yogurt – 7g/100g

The difference between Greek yogurt and regular dahi – process, is that the protein in regular dahi is 3.5-4g/100g, and Greek yogurt gives you double. 

How To Eat:

Buy the unsweetened unflavoured Greek yogurt. You can use Greek yogurt in the place of Skyr in all the recipe ideas given above. My son’s discovery from YouTube shorts is a post-workout snack made of Greek yogurt, olive oil, and roasted almonds (chopped), topped with some seasoning of salt and pepper. Either have it with cucumber sticks or as is. 

Both Greek yogurt and Skyr can be used to prepare whey protein shakes to further increase the protein content of the drink. 

Tofu – 15g/100g

Many people have a mind block against tofu, treating it as paneer’s poor cousin, and giving it a wide berth. Learn to use it properly, as a blank canvas ready to take on any flavours and you get a whopping 30 gms of protein from a 200 gms block. 

How To Eat:

Some easy ways to build a gradual acceptance of tofu in your life are to make it into a spicy bhurji, toss it in Korean or Chinese sauces and condiments and either air fry or pan fry it. This can be topped on a grain of choice, in wraps, or salads. Marinated and pan-fried tofu slabs can be used in sandwiches with tomato, lettuce, and chutney. You can even skip the bread and make a tofu sandwich by layering chutney and other veggies between two marinated and grilled slices of tofu. 

Tempeh – 19g/100g

A more recent entrant in the Indian market, tempeh is made by cooking and fermenting soybeans, which then turn into a block. This is cut into cubes and used in a variety of dishes. It has a higher protein content than paneer and tofu. Given the fermentation, its taste and texture can take some getting used to but there’s no denying the superlative quantity and quality of protein it provides along with being a decent source of iron, vitamin B12, and gut-friendly. 

How To Eat:

Marinate plain tempeh in your choice of spices and saute in a little oil for 6-7 minutes. Add it to curries, wraps, and salad bowls. Pre-marinated tempeh can be straight pan-fried and eaten as is. Grated tempeh can be prepared as a masala dosa filling, bhurji or made into kababs. 

Whey protein – 24g/scoop or more

While it is always better to consume protein from natural sources, whey protein is a valuable protein option for vegetarians. Whey protein isolates are excellent for post-workout muscle recovery, as a high protein supplement on the go or at work where there is no option for a healthy meal. It gives a big boost of protein without too many calories, which is useful when you are aiming to lose weight. Shake up whey protein powder and water in a shaker for the simplest way to consume it. You can also combine it with dairy, berries, or any other ingredients to make a more filling meal. 

If you are not convinced about the safety and usage of whey protein, read my detailed piece here

High protein buttermilk – 15g / pack

Amul sensing the need for protein among the health-conscious people in the country has launched this among their other protein-rich products. At 15 gms protein for a 200 mililitre (ml)  pack, it is impressive. As a mid-day beverage, it will keep you filled up while contributing to your macros. I haven’t heard great reviews on the taste but there’s nothing some chaat masala or roasted cumin powder can't fix. Amul has also launched 200 ml protein shakes that offer 20 gms of protein. 



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