Starting your day with a quality plant protein kick starts your healthy eating habit

A healthy, protein rich breakfast doesn’t have to be hearty to be healthy…

Best Protein for Breakfast

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And while the breakfast industry has embraced that slogan, its value extends beyond puffy cocoa and fruity loops. Water and protein are the two most abundant elements in your body and starting your day with a glass of water and quality plant protein may give you the competitive edge you’re looking for.

What is Breakfast Anyhow?

Steel cut oats are hearty, easy to prepare overnight, and can be topped with all your favorites…

Most of us already know that breakfast is literally “breaking” your “fast.”

As you sleep, you experience the benefits of fasting. This is when your body can concentrate on cell renewal and healing instead of digesting food. Unless, of course, you eat shortly before going to bed or sleep-eat.

Why is there an empty jar of peanut butter on the kitchen counter…??

Now, what you eat for breakfast is really a personal choice. The more you learn about nutrition and food, the more you’ll embrace the healthy eating habits that are right for you and your lifestyle.

Some say you want a big, hearty breakfast. If you’re going out to herd cattle, that could be the perfect choice. However, if you’re like most people and start your day with a long commute, something lighter may be in order.

Working out in the morning? Some eat before their workout; some eat after. Personally, I can’t eat before a workout simply because it doesn’t sit right in my gut. I do better on an empty stomach with perhaps a cup of coffee. For you, it might be different.

What I do start each morning with is a glass of water, preferably with lemon. This gives you that first burst of hydration.

It’s interesting to think that after water, protein is the most plentiful substance in the body. It’s the building block for your cells so maintaining and replenishing your levels of protein is important.

That’s why many people begin their day with a meal that contains protein.

Best Protein Pancake Mix

Using real maple syrup on your pancakes give you added minerals and REAL flavor IMHO…

You can’t talk about breakfast without talking about pancakes with REAL Maple Syrup…and bacon.

You can purchase a ready-made protein pancake mix, or you can combine your own by taking your favorite pancake mix (preferably made with a blend of flours for added flavor and fiber), adding a scoop of your favorite protein power, mixing in higher-protein milk like Fairlife and adding an egg. All of this combined gives you a pancake that packs a protein punch!

It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive and it will be delicious.

Best Plant Protein

Pea protein and edamame top the list for green protein…

According to Cherie Calbom, M.S., the author of “The Juice Lady’s Guide to Juicing for Health” protein is necessary for repairing cells damaged by free radical attack. A lack of protein, she states, prevents cellular repair and accelerates the aging process.

Now, think about all the free radicals and pollutants we are exposed to every day. Remember that morning commute? Pollution. Stressed out at work? Pollution. Chemical residue on your food? Pollution.

You get the idea.

Rather than stress about what you cannot control, you can balance out and overcome some of life’s “radicals” by adding in quality live foods and plant proteins.

While all plant-based foods have protein, not all are complete proteins (those that contain all 22 amino acids that make up a complete protein) and the amount of protein per serving varies. Some only have a little bit.

Don’t let this confuse you. When you eat a colorful mix of plants, chances are good you’re going to get plenty of what your body needs.

So, how much protein do you need each day?

That depends on your age and your level of activity. Athletes need more than non-athletes and when you are training, there are different levels you should strive for. As a general rule of thumb (and this is up for debate), 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight is a minimum for younger adults; older adults should get at least 1 to 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This is the suggested amount by Prevention Magazine.

I like the additional information and eating approach by Mark Sisson in Primal Blueprint. He talks about protein intake in relation to lean muscle mass on pages 86-87. He favors an average of 0.7-1.0 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass per day.  That’s not the number on the scale. Instead, that accounts for your percentage of body fat and level of activity.

I also love how he stresses that once you are eating and living healthy and intentionally, you will “find yourself intuitively arriving at a comfortable number or range of protein grams within a week of Primal Blueprint-style eating.”

Try it. You’ll find your body gives you clues and when you tune in, listen, and respond, your level of health will increase easily.

When you’re intentionally looking for high amounts of plant-based protein, reach for these:

Edamame: 18 Grams of Protein for a 1-cup serving. Choose organic and a sprinkle of salt is a great addition.

Mung Beans: 12 Grams of Protein per ¼ cup (dry). I like the Sprouted Mung Bean Burger recipe from Holy Cow Vegan. First, because you can make ahead and freeze. Next, because depending on your level of veganism….I can totally see adding a easy-over egg to the top for a twist on breakfast.

Tofu: 8-15 Grams of Protein for a 3oz. serving. If tofu turkey isn’t your thing, you’re not alone! Tofu can easily be added to your morning shake. It has the texture of scrambled eggs so why not add some to your morning eggs. Or, a personal favorite is soaking tofu in chicken or vegetable broth (it soaks up the flavor nicely), cut into cubes, and then add into steamed broccoli and sautéed mushrooms, sprinkled with walnuts or pine nuts. Even for breakfast, this is a different choice than your typical “American” breakfast.

Hemp Seeds: 10 Grams of Protein for a 3 Tablespoon Serving. Seeds are very easy to add to your morning. Add to shakes, top your yogurt or oatmeal, or add some to your next batch of home-made bread, muffins or cookies.

Green Peas: 8.5 Grams of Protein for 1 cup. There is a reason many people reach for pea protein in the powdered form. In a shake, frozen peas will give you a smooth consistency and you can even buy it in a hummus-spread!

Quinoa: 8 Grams of Protein for a 1 cup serving. Anything your do with rice or oatmeal, you can probably do with quinoa. Bonus: This is a complete protein meaning it contains all 22 amino acids. And, it’s high in fiber.

Black Beans: 7.6 Grams of Protein for a 4 oz. serving (cooked). Toss some black beans in your next Southwest Omelet.  

Peanut Butter: 7 Grams of Protein for 2 Tablespoons. Add it to your morning shake, spread on whole wheat bread, top your oatmeal, spread on a banana.

Almonds: 6 Grams of Protein for ¼ cup serving. Choose raw when possible. Chopped, you can add them your morning yogurt. Toss them in a shake, add to oatmeal, or choose almond butter to spread as you would peanut butter.

Chia Seeds: 6 Grams of Protein for 3 Tablespoons. Before they were a “thing”, chia seeds were an economical way to add protein and omega-3’s to your diet. The price tag has gone up a bit although it is still an easy addition to smoothies, oatmeal and pudding. They soak up liquid and have no flavor so you don’t have to worry about any competing tastes in your morning breakfast meal.

Steel-Cut Oatmeal: 5 Grams of Protein for ¼ cup (dry). Steel cuts oats also have a different consistency than rolled oats and that gives them more “staying” power, meaning they keep you fuller longer. They also take longer to cook! For busy mornings, put all your ingredients (oats, water, your choice of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and spices) in a slow-cooker crock pot the night before and then set on low. You will use about 1 cup of steel cut oats to 3 ½ cups of liquid. In the morning, your oats will be ready. Bonus: Add cinnamon and your house will smell amazing too!

Broccoli: 4.2 Grams of Protein per medium stalk.

Avocados: 2 Grams of Protein for ½ of an avocado. Ok, 2 grams of protein isn’t anything to write home about but who eats ONLY half of an avocado!? In addition to guacamole (of course) try it spread on toast or blend in a smoothie.

Everything Else: 5 Grams of Protein per serving or less. Okay, so it’s not really “everything else” but many of the vegetables that can easily be added to your breakfast meal or shake have some amount of protein. Don’t forget those power-packed green foods like seaweed, blue-green algae and spirulina. They have protein, important micronutrients your body will love, and in powder form can be easily added to your morning power shake.

For a list of the level of Protein in Vegetables, check out the Food Date Resource.