By Carly Schuna
Following a raw food diet can be liberating, wonderful, and delicious. It’s also a great way to lose extra weight, eat more natural foods, and take in a broader range of nutrients. One challenge that many new to raw foods encounter, however, is how to get enough protein in their diets.
Physicians and health experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend getting approximately 55 percent of daily calories from carbohydrates, 25 percent from fat, and 20 percent from protein (1). Hitting that 20 percent figure isn't always easy on a raw food diet because most fruits and vegetables are much higher in carbohydrates than they are in fat or protein, and conventionally high-protein foods like meat, beans, and dairy are seemingly off the table because they need to be heated to be edible.
So how can you boost your protein intake while staying raw? Answer: Get creative, and include the following high-protein, nutrient-rich foods in your meal plans!
Nutritious, protein-rich legumes can be a staple of any raw diet—the key is to soak them or sprout them for long enough to allow them to soften and expand. Try making raw falafel with soaked and drained chickpeas, tossing sprouted grains or beans into a raw salad, or pureeing soaked legumes to make a tasty veggie dip.
Nuts are nutritional powerhouses—one reason why they’re present so often in trail mix, granola, and energy bars. A single ounce of almonds has 6 grams of protein, and the same amount of peanuts or pine nuts has 7 grams (2). Raw nut butters, of which Rejuvenative sells more than a dozen varieties, provide all the same protein-rich benefits.
Seeds of all types can act as protein-rich alternatives to nuts in a raw diet, and they’re especially useful if you’re allergic or intolerant to nuts. A quarter-cup of flaxseeds boasts 7.5 grams of protein, an ounce of sunflower seeds has 5.5 grams, and an ounce of pumpkin seeds has a whopping 8.5 grams (3). Rejuvenative’s offerings include tahini, pumpkin seed butter, hemp seed butter, and even protein-rich dessert seed butters.