We know plant-based diets have benefits for sustainability. When followed as part of a balanced diet, carefully chosen plant-based products can also be part of a healthy diet. Some options, however, contain high amounts of saturated fat, sodium, or other negative attributes. Seek Guiding Stars-rated choices. This will ensure your plant-based diet is helping you meet all your health goals.
Edamame (3 Guiding Stars)
Versatile edamame is delicious “as is” served in the pod, steamed, with just a bit of kosher salt. Consider combining edamame beans with other beans, corn, or diced veggies and grain to create a protein-rich salad. Or, go ahead and puree them with seasonings, sesame oil, and low-sodium soy sauce to develop a dip or dumpling filling.
Shopping tip: Keep it super simple with steam-in-bag edamame that cooks in about 5 minutes.
Quinoa (3 Guiding Stars)
Though technically a seed, we think of quinoa as a whole grain. Rich in plant protein, quinoa can be enjoyed warm or cold, as part of any meal (even breakfast). A gluten-free option that serves as a simple substitute for cous cous or other small grain, quinoa deserves a regular spot in your pantry.
Shopping tip: Pick up microwave pouches to save time and enjoy quinoa in 90 seconds.
Lentils (3 Guiding Stars)
The small but mighty lentil is packed with plant-based protein and deserves a spot in your menu rotation. Cooking times and texture for different lentils vary, making them ideal for an assortment of recipes. Try red lentils in cold salad, stew, added to a wrap, or in another dish that needs a protein boost.
Shopping tip: Try Guiding Stars-rated noodles made from lentil flour to enjoy the protein power of lentils in your favorite pasta dish.
Dried Chickpeas (3 Guiding Stars)
Chickpeas might just be the most versatile little legume around. Recipes abound using chickpeas “as is” added to a soup, salad. or stew or use chickpea flour to make a protein-rich version of a family favorite. If you’re passing on dried chickpeas, choose low sodium, 2-Guiding Star, canned options
Shopping tip: When you’re looking for something crunchy, satisfying snack, look toward Guiding Star rated chickpea snacks. Available in a variety of flavors, these packaged protein-rich snacks are an ideal add on to a packed lunch or pick-me-up between meals.
Hemp Seeds (3 Guiding Stars)
All you need is three tablespoons of hemp seeds to get about 9 grams of protein (and about 12 grams of heart healthy fat too!). With a “nutty bite” and crunch, these seeds easily add plant protein to yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and more.
Shopping tip: Look for granola bars made with hemp seeds for extra, on-the-go protein.