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8 Sources of Plant Based Protein

A question people ask me all the time is how to get more protein into their diet, especially if eating predominantly plant-based. Protein is absolutely essential to a healthy body and mind. Because it is one of three macronutrients, protein rich foods sho
Mar 12, 2015 | Joy McCarthy

A question people ask me all the time is how to get more protein into their diet, especially if eating predominantly plant-based. This is a GREAT question because many people are making the assumption they are eating enough protein when they simply aren’t.

Or they are eating plant-based proteins every day, but always eating the same three or four foods. This can be extremely unhealthy and a fast-track route to developing food sensitivities and creating nutritional gaps in your diet.

Protein is absolutely essential to a healthy body and mind. Because it is one of three macronutrients, protein rich foods should always be included at every meal and snack. 

You might be wondering why it’s so important? As I discuss in my video, it is a building block for life and essential for the cells of your skin, muscles, bones and cartilage. It also helps to make many chemicals in your body such as enzymes and hormones. 

Find out some of the best plant-based protein sources that I recommend.


  • 1/2 tbsp has 2 g protein, which is 65-70% protein by weight
  • Not a protein-heavyweight but definitely has a wide variety of amino acids, 22 to be exact
  • Rich in beta-carotene, calcium and iron
  • Wonderful source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) — a important fatty acid for reducing inflammation
  • You can find 1450mg of spirulina in my fave greens superfood powder, greens+. Here’s a smoothie recipe.

Coconut Flour

  • 2 tbsp has 5 g protein
  • Not only is it a good source of protein but it is very high in fiber, more so than whole wheat flour and of course, it’s gluten-free!
  • Be sure to check out my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Black Beans

  • 1/2 cup has 21 g protein
  • These gems are incredible for digestive health and blood sugar balance.
  • Plus an outstanding source of phytonutrients including anti-inflammatory quercitin.

Hemp Seeds

  • 1/4 cup has 15 g protein, plus they are a complete protein with all the essential amino acids
  • Just like spirulina, hemp hearts have a good source of GLA
  • I love sprinkled hemp hearts on salad, adding to a smoothie or making my Hempseed Maple Butter in my book!
  • Hemp hearts are a superfood for healthy hair

Chia Seeds

  • 2 tbsp has 4 g protein and a whopping 11 g fiber! Just like spirulina and hemp, chia has all the essential amino acids
  • Chia is a good source of calcium, magnesium and some B vitamins too
  • There are many wonderful ways to add chia to your meals. Learn more about this superfood here
  • Chia is also a beauty food, great for nail health


  • 1/4 cup has 8 g protein, pretty decent! The perfect amount for a mid-aft powersnack!
  • Almonds are a total beauty and heart health food because they are an excellent source of vitamin E and fiber top
  • Have you ever made your own almond milk before? Check out my recipe video. Just keep in mind you won’t get the same amount of protein in the milk because you’re not eating the whole food, but it’s still nutrient-dense and a wonderful alternative to animal based milk.

Lentils and Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)

  • 1/2 cup lentils has 9 g protein and 1/2 cup chickpeas has 20 g protein
  • Packed with fiber, minerals such as iron, magnesium, calcium, B vitamins and more
  • Lentils and chickpeas, just like black beans are very blood sugar balancing

Bee Pollen

  • The protein content varies greatly from harvest to harvest but one thing is for sure, they are a wonderful source of easily digestive free form amino acids
  • Bee pollen is also rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants
  • Learn more about this healing superfood in this post

As mentioned in my video, I almost always add a plant-based protein powder to my smoothies. Genuine Health has come out with a new vegan protein called Vegan Fermented Proteins+ which I love. It’s extra special because it is fermented making it wonderful for digestive health and it has 7 different plant based proteins. I add it to all my smoothie recipes.

The good news is there are far more plant-based proteins available to eat (like quinoa!), so they key thing to remember is VARIETY!

I hope you found this video and post useful. Please post any questions you have for me for a future video below.

Have a joyous day!


Alyssa   •   July 12, 2017

I walk for about an hour a day, as well as do some yoga and pilates depending on the day, and my husband uses a heavy bag 3-4 times a week for about 30 min each. Are we working out enough to use protein powder? We like to make smoothies in the morning and we have been thinking about ordering the one mentioned in this post. Is it necessary to take their probiotic if we are using this powder? Thanks, Alyssa

Rachel Molenda   •   July 13, 2017

Gracie   •   April 2, 2019

How much chia do you/should you eat once you have gradually incorporated it into your diet? Would 2 tablespoons be fine?

Joy McCarthy   •   April 3, 2019

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