Whether you’re looking to go vegetarian, vegan, or just want to add more protein to your diet, there are plenty of plants to choose from — and we’ll cover quite a few of them here. To start our protein-packed snack journey, let’s cover one of the more popular plant proteins: soybeans.
Soybeans are unique compared to your other options for on-the-go protein since they contain complete protein. A protein comprises 20 amino acids, and a complete protein food features all 20 in roughly equal amounts. This is important to note since most plant-based protein sources contain incomplete protein and must be carefully combined to get all 9 of the necessary amino acids your body can’t produce.
This fact makes soybeans and soybean products some of the best grab-and-go plant-based snacks you can get.
Of course, eating soybeans as they are may not be your cup of tea... or milk. If this is the case, consider trying soybean-based milk, or soymilk. It contains almost as much protein as cow’s milk, and you can use it as a milk replacement. You can pour it into your morning bowl of cereal or drink a glass with a meal. You can also use it to make soy cheese, which has fewer calories, saturated fat, and slightly less sodium than some dairy-based cheeses.
Tofu and Tempeh
Tofu and tempeh are used in many dishes as meat replacements, but they are slightly different and provide a few different benefits. Tofu is incredibly common and versatile but doesn't have much flavor on its own. So instead, tofu adopts the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish.
Tempeh contains more protein and is made of soybeans cooked, fermented, and then squeezed into a block. In contrast, tofu is made of curdled soy milk. Since whole soybeans are used to create tempeh, it has a more nutty flavor. It can also have grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes, which provide more flavor, protein, and fat.
Nuts and Seeds
Seeds and nuts are also great options for on-the-go protein. They contain healthy fats, vitamins, and more, alongside protein. They are also really tasty and can be eaten as-is or mixed into trail mixes or granola bars for extra flavor.
Sunflower seeds are versatile, and you can use them in everything from trail mixes to muffins to stir-fries. You'll find 8 grams of protein alongside vitamins E and B1, magnesium, and fiber in a single ounce of sunflower seeds. They are also one of the best snacks for healthy fats due to their high unsaturated fat content and the listed nutrients. Adding sunflower seeds to your diet can improve your heart health, reduce blood pressure and sugar, and even reduce your risk of stroke.
It’s no surprise that peanuts made it onto this list. You’ll have eaten 9 grams of protein in just a quarter of a cup. They also contain healthy fats and improve heart health. And, of course, you can’t discuss peanuts without bringing up peanut butter, which you can eat smooth, crunchy, or as a powder. So if you’re looking for a good on-the-go protein snack, consider a pack of peanuts or a classic peanut butter sandwich.
Chia and Hemp Seeds
Chia and hemp seeds can be used in similar ways and have plenty of fiber. Hemp seeds contain more protein than chia seeds, with 5 grams per tablespoon instead of 2 or 3 grams per tablespoon. They can be used in baking, mixed into smoothies, added to yogurt, and even soaked in water or milk to create pudding.
A quarter cup of almonds is equivalent to roughly 7 grams of protein, making them almost as good as peanuts. Almonds also contain vitamin E, fiber, and fat. Similarly to peanuts, you can also get almond butter, which you can spread onto a piece of bread, make into cookies, and more.
Of course, soybeans, nuts, and seeds are far from your only plant-based protein snack options. So if none of the above interests you, or if you’d like something a bit different, try snacking on at least one of the following foods.
Beans can be eaten alone or added to other foods like rice, which is necessary since beans contain incomplete protein. You could eat between 6 and 9 grams of protein and 6 to 8 grams of fiber in half a cup of beans. Beans can also help lower cholesterol, which improves heart health.
Lentils contain 12 grams of protein in just half a cup when cooked, and you can add them to a wide variety of dishes. In this same half-cup, you’ll also be ingesting 8 grams of fiber, which will leave you feeling fuller and can help you if you’re trying to watch your weight by keeping you full and helping you lose weight.