Going Vegan: Where Do You Get Your Protein?
When you first talk to others about going vegan, without a doubt, you will hear a few “but where will you get your protein?” protests from omnivores. There’s a prolific misconception that meat is the best/only source of protein for any diet, anywhere.
Vegans and vegetarians alike will no doubt encounter this misconception at some point, no matter how enlightened your social circle is. While it is certainly important to get enough protein in your diet, it is also important to get enough of your other vitamins in your diet, say calcium, vitamin C, vitamin Bs, iron, etc. Strangely, the main critique of vegan or vegetarian diets seems to revolve around protein, however.
If you do your research into the nutritional values of certain foods you are consuming, and you should (though most protesting omnivores don’t), you’ll find there are a great many plant-based sources of protein, easily substituted for meat. The best source of plant-based protein? Legumes (nuts, and seeds). Each food item varies in protein quality and quantity, but many are even superior sources of protein to meat.
The best way I’ve found to easily integrate plant-based protein sources into my diet is to generously integrate legumes into my dishes — an easy thing to do when you consider the high protein levels of non-dairy milk like soy milk and almond milk.
Another favourite of mine are these super easy, super tasty, protein-packed and nutritious Seed Crackers! You can easily substitute these high protein treats for high-carb cracker alternatives and sneak in some proteins where you wouldn’t normally.
These crackers are also great for gluten-free or paleo diets as they are entirely seeds, seasoning and water, and they are perfect on their own or with a dip (SO GOOD with hummus).
The “dough” is made from mixing water with chia seeds that bond with the other seeds. You then spread the “dough” thinly and bake until crispy. So easy! You can also easily experiment with the recipe to find your favourite mix of seeds, or even nuts (ground).
Vegan Gluten-Free Seed Crackers
Prep time: 5-10 minutes (for chia to set)
Cooking time: 50-60 minutes
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts (seeds)
- 1/2 cup chia seeds
- 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2/3 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- (or seasoning to your preference)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until the mixture has absorbed all the water.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease lightly (or line with silicon baking matt). Spread the seed mixture over the sheet to 1/4 inch thick. You want to get it as thin as possible, without causing breaks in the “dough.”
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove from oven and slice into crackers with a sharp knife or pizza wheel cutter. Slicing the crackers at this point allows them to cook more evenly/thoroughly.
Flip the crackers and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The crackers should look slightly browned and be firm to the touch. If you can squish any of the crackers, bake for longer. Your crackers must be dry when they are finally removed from the oven.
Wait for crackers to cool before eating, and enjoy the gentle crackle of seeds cooling. These crackers are best with some bean dip like hummus.
Save in an airtight container for up to a week. Makes 4+ cups of crackers.
The original recipe comes from guest blogger Linda Whittig on the Eating Rules Blog. Her recipe calls for flax seeds rather than hemp hearts. I’ve made both versions and found the hemp hearts to be much preferable in the mixture, both in terms of flavour and texture. The flax is much seedier with that Omega (slightly “fishy”) taste, while hemp hearts give a more cracker-like texture and slightly nutty taste.
You can also opt for ground flax seed in place of the chia seed for the binding component, but make sure that the flax is ground, otherwise it won’t bind as effectively. You may find this version a bit wetter, but that will aid in getting thinner crackers. The most fun variation is experimenting with the seasoning.
Stay tuned for more Vegan Protein Source recipes and articles!