Low FODMAP vegan foods with the highest protein are shelled hemp seed, tofu, white almond butter, quinoa and chia seed.
All are super affordable, easy to find in supermarkets and kind to your gut!
1. Quinoa: ‘The Staple’
One typical adult serving of quinoa (around half a cup or 90g of uncooked grain) contains 4.5g protein.
Quinoa is a super-easy staple, great for when you’re busy or tired. It cooks in 15 minutes, never sticks together and has a fabulous nutty flavour.
You can use it instead of rice for a pilaf or instead of couscous for tabbouleh. Both are wonderful, fresh summer lunch or light supper options, which you can switch up depending on what’s in the fridge.
Quinoa can also be used as a base for veggie burgers (with chia seed as your vegan egg – which adds extra protein – to help the mixture to hold together).
What is the difference between white, black and red varieties of quinoa?
Nutritionally, they are all quite similar, but black quinoa has a fewer calories per 100g and a more intense, nutty flavour. Using a ‘tricolour’ mix looks visually appetizing and so is great for entertaining.
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2. Tofu & Tempeh: ‘The Substance’
Classic protein sources for those on a plant-based diet, tofu packs 12.6g protein per 100g unpressed and 100g tempeh has 16.5g!
These two guys are just so versatile. They take up flavour well and can be marinated with spices and sauces from any regional cuisine. This makes them great for ‘veganizing’ your favourite dishes.
As long as you don’t have a problem with soya, tofu and tempeh can be useful if you’re missing the ‘third ingredient’ of your plate [carbs, veg and …tempeh!] or if you would like to add a rich, savoury flavour to your meal.
What is the difference between block tofu and silken (Asian) tofu?
Block tofu is less fine textured and a more substantial tofu, and the type most often seen in chiller cabinets in supermarkets. If you’re going to make tofu ‘bacon’ or use tofu in a stir fry, then this type is best.
Asian (silken) tofu is usually sold in tetrapak cartons and does not need to be refrigerated until the package is opened (after which it will last 2-3 days). It comes in soft and firm textures. Even the firmer variety is still quite soft so is less suitable for stir-fries. It does, however, go incredibly smooth when blended, so it is brilliant whizzed as a Paleo vegan white sauce, mayo replacement or used to boost the protein content of smoothies.
Two secrets to tofu yumminess? Press and marinate.
It’s easy to dismiss tofu as bland. I thought this too until I learned how to prepare it properly. The keys are: press and marinate…
Pressing changes a somewhat soggy tofu experience in to a more satisfying affair. Sometimes a tofu block will say ‘pre-pressed’, in which case, great – carry on. But if not, then you definitely need to press it yourself using a tofu press to remove excess water.
Which is the best tofu press?
There are a variety of tofu presses on the market for every budget and I review the 6 best tofu presses here. Prices range from around £5 to over £40. Pressed tofu is a completely different beast from unpressed – firm and substantial, it definitely has ‘substance’!
Marinating is also essential for tasty tofu (it is almost flavourless on its own). See my top tips for marinades for the tastiest tofu ever here.
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is made from cooked, dehulled soybeans that are then incubated with a particular microbial culture. In the space of a few days, a loose collection of soybeans changes into a white block of tempeh that can then be used for cooking. The white ‘bloom’ is edible and similar to the bloom on brie cheese.
The flavour is savoury and slightly mushroomy. If you are after a dense texture and savoury flavour, then tempeh is better than tofu. Tempeh holds together well and is fabulous marinated with soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke (see recipe HERE) – ideal for a summer barbeque!
Tempeh can be a little pricey to buy, but if you’re handy in the kitchen, why not try making it? Starter cultures can be bought on Ebay and there are lots of ‘how to’ videos on YouTube.
It is quite easy, but does take a little time so best to set aside an afternoon for the job. I have done it a few times – made a big batch and then frozen some of it. This works very well!
3. White almond butter: ‘The All-rounder’
White almond butter is made from blanched (skinned) almonds and has a whopping 30g protein per 100g.
The lack of brown skins makes this type of almond butter easier to digest. In fact, this is how I came to start LOVENUTTY – see MY STORY. It is also much lower in ‘antinutrients’ than brown almond butter [most antinutrients are in the skins].
There are several white almond butters available, and I am not biased at all when I say that LOVENUTTY is the best. We roast our almonds carefully before stonegrinding to give a creamy texture and rich, buttery flavour with a hint of natural sweetness.
White almond butter is a versatile ingredient. To boost the protein content, it can be used:
- to make a quick almond milk
- to add creaminess to porridge.
- in smoothies to boost flavour and protein
- to make salad dressings
- for a quick keto/paleo snack – straight from the jar
- in an AB+jam sandwich!
4. Chia seed: ‘The good egg’
These wonderful little seeds have 2g of protein per tablespoon and 22.1g per 100g.
When soaked in liquid for 1-15 minutes, chia seeds soak up water and a kind of gel forms around each seed – a bit like egg white.
Used whole, chia can be soaked and used as an egg replacer in baking – see my chocolate brownie recipe.
Chia is my vegan egg of choice for veggie burgers, which can be crumbly without a binder, and chocolate brownie. Milled chia turns into a gel even more quickly than chia seed and makes a smoother bake.
5. Hemp hearts (shelled hemp): ‘The Garnish’
Shelled hemp has 30g of protein per 100g and are packed with nutrients – and are also good for the environment too as they need little pesticide treatment.
Hemp-seed hulls can be tough and kinda ‘scratchy’, but shelled hemp, also called hemp hearts, don’t have this quality and make for a much nicer ‘eating experience’!
Sprinkle a tablespoon or two on salads or in smoothies for an extra boost of protein, good fats and other nutrients – hemp seeds are a source of vitamin E and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
I’m Dr Sian and I LOVE experimenting in the kitchen with plants and I am so happy to be able to share my recipes with you here. I live in Wiltshire, UK with my partner and two children.
I post new recipes and articles about heath (particularly gut health) regularly – watch this space! xx