PROTEIN IS THE key ingredient for muscle-building and muscle recovery. But downing eggs and fatty cuts of meatevery day isn’t the healthiest way to get your fix. In fact, diets rich in animal protein and fat have been linked to chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.
But hey, we get it: Going meat-free isn’t easy, either—especially because lean meat proteins like chicken and fish can get pretty boring.
Ready to try going vegetarian (or even vegan) without sacrificing your gains? We asked Lisa Moskovitz, R.D., founder of The NY Nutrition Group, for the scoop on 10 of the most nutrient-dense meat alternatives—and the best ways to prepare them.
What it is: A tiny, gluten-free whole grain that has a mild, nutty flavor
Protein payout: 10 grams per cup, cooked
Other notable nutrients: Fiber, essential amino acids, calcium, iron and vitamin C (which isn’t normally found in grains)
How to eat it: Moskovitz suggests breakfast porridge: Combine 1/4 cup teff with 3/4 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it thickens. Remove from heat and top with honey, berries, and unsweetened coconut flakes.
9. Hemp seed
What it is: Hemp seeds, sometimes called hemp hearts, come from the cannabis plant (but no, eating them won’t get you high).
Protein payout: 10 grams per 3 tablespoons
Other notable nutrients: Omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, iron, and magnesium
How to eat it: Add the seeds to smoothies (we love this “blue, green, and blue” smoothie recipe), cereals, yogurt, salads, and trail mixes, suggests Moskovitz.
What it is: A hearty, whole grain wheat-rye hybrid
Protein payout: 13g per half-cup
Other notable nutrients: Iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber
How to eat it: Moskovitz likes to use triticale berries in place of rice. She also suggests trying triticale flour in lieu of white flour.
What it is: A versatile, low-carb meat substitute made from wheat gluten and seasoned with salt and savory spices. “Its texture is similar to that of meat, and it has more protein than tofu and tempeh, making it a great alternative for men who don’t love the thought of vegetarian alternatives,” says Moskovitz.
Protein payout: 21g per half cup
Other notable nutrients: Phosphorus, selenium and iron
How to eat it: Bake, grill, braise, or boil it. Use it in any recipe that calls for poultry.
What it is: Renowned for their medicinal and healing properties, high-protein seaweeds include arame, dulse, kelp, kombu, nori, and spirulina.
Protein payout: 8-32g per cup
Other notable nutrients: Calcium, iron, iodine, potassium, and vitamin A
How to eat it: “Many sea vegetables are high in iodine, making them great salt substitutes in soup and grain dishes,” notes Moskovitz. Need more specific instructions? Fill a nori wrap with sweet potato, brown rice, avocado, and greens.