Maybe you’ve heard the term “complete protein.” It derives from the idea that there are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein, and the human body can’t produce nine of them on its own. In order to be considered “complete,” a protein must contain all nine of these essential amino acids in equal amounts.
The thing is, we don’t need the complete amino-acid profile in every meal. We need only a sufficient amount of each amino acid daily. Dietitians confirm that plant-based foods contain a wide variety of profiles, and vegans are pretty much guaranteed to get their daily dose without even trying.
Still worried about your protein profiles? Here are 11 plant-based foods or food combos that are considered complete protein sources:
1. Buckwheat is hearty and versatile—and isn’t a type of wheat at all. In fact, it’s a cousin of rhubarb. Japanese buckwheat noodles, or soba, are a great protein source. Check out this spicy soba noodle recipe featuring shiitake mushrooms and cabbage, or try this heavenly buckwheat porridge with figs. What the heck—here’s a buckwheat pancake mix, too.
2. Hummus and pita might already be one of your go-to snacks. If you haven’t ever made hummus from scratch, we suggest that you take the plunge. Try this recipe to take your love of hummus to new heights.
3. You have to give it up for soy. Whether it’s in the form of tofu, tempeh, or edamame beans, it’s a powerful food that offers cardiovascular benefits, helps prevent prostate and colon cancers, decreases hot flashes in menopausal women, and protects against osteoporosis. Love a quick breakfast sandwich? Try this tempeh “bacon” sandwich. If you’re more of the lunch-sandwich type, we recommend this Vietnamese tofu bánh mì sandwich. And here are six other fun ways to prepare tofu.
4. Roasted and salted pumpkin seeds are a good snack to have on hand.
5. Peanut butter toast?! (Or bagel, or english muffin.) Don’t…