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Nut Free Vegan Diet - Balancing a Diet with Protein

Updated on February 24, 2016

Vegans Allergic to Nuts - A Balanced Diet

A balanced vegan diet brings with it great health benefits. While initially, planning and forethought are required to maintain proper nutrition, this lifestyle eventually becomes second-nature.

When a vegan has a nut allergy, it eliminates a few good sources of protein from the already restricted options. However, this does not mean that it cannot be done. In fact, there are numerous healthy options sources of proteins, complete and complementary, that are available. To begin, let's take a look at some protein intake guidelines. Once you know what you should be eating, it makes it easier to plan, shop, cook, eat and maintain a good health.

Daily Protein Intakes

Vegan Food Pyramid Adapted; Photo Credit: Madeleine Price Ball, via Wikimedia Commons
Vegan Food Pyramid Adapted; Photo Credit: Madeleine Price Ball, via Wikimedia Commons

The human body is a remarkable machine that requires proper maintenance and nutrition in order to continue functioning efficiently. At the heart of nutrition is protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. These building blocks are the foundation of every part of our body. Growth is not possible in the absence of proteins, so meeting the daily intake requirements is essential. For energy, rebuilding cells, including hair, bones, blood, muscles and organs, protein via amino acids is vital.

Amino acids combine to make a protein. The number of amino acids that a single food item contains determines whether or not it is a complete protein or a complementary food. For a food to be considered a complete source of protein, it must contain 8 of the amino acids needed to build a protein. Our body needs 23 amino-acids to function properly, and it can synthesize 16 of these. Actually the adults can synthesize 16 and the children only 15. In other words, there are 8 proteins that we cannot synthesize and we must get them from food. Furthermore, a good balance between these 8, (or 9), proteins is key for a good development of children, and a healthy life of an adult. For a more detailed document on amino-acids and proteins, check this page.

How much protein is required for healthy adults?

  • Men: A healthy 40 year old male should take in on average 56 grams of protein per day.
  • Women: A 40 year old, healthy woman needs about 46 grams of protein each day.

For any vegan or vegetarian, eating nuts is one of the easiest ways to get a good load of protein. Basically, if you can make yourself a peanut-butter jelly sandwich you have pretty much covered a lot of your protein needs. However, for a nut allergic peanuts are not an option.

Fortunately there are plenty of other healthy options, I will enumerate the best foods to replace the nuts as a protein source. Unfortunately, there are only a few people who have a healthy intake of proteins.
For a document with dietary guidelines check this link: http://www.health.gov/dietaryguidelines/dga2010/DietaryGuidelines2010.pdf.

Amino Acids Explained

Amaranth - A Complete Protein Source for Vegans - Amaranth Pilaf Recipe

Amaranth Pilaf Recipe

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 cups amaranth
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Lightly toast the amaranth in a saucepan over low heat, while stirring continuously.
  • Add the finely chopped onions, the salt, the oil, and the 5 cups of water and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the minced bell pepper and boil for another 5 minutes.
  • Finally add the shredded zucchini and the minced tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes or until cooked.
  • If needed add a bit more water. You can also add hot paprika, if you like it more spicy.

Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Amaranth, 16 Ounce
Arrowhead Mills Organic Whole Grain Amaranth, 16 Ounce

Amaranth are gluten free, and contain a lot of good quality protein. It contains a lot of calcium, magnesium, iron and a an impressive 18 grams of fiber per cup of grains.What makes it special is the amount of protein and its profile, which makes it a source of complete protein.

 

What is your favorite vegan protein source?

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Complete Protein Vegan Sources

Nut Free Sources of Complete Proteins for Vegans

What are some alternative sources for nut proteins that a vegan can eat? How can vegan foods be combined to form complete sources of protein?Of course nuts provide a great source of fats and proteins - both items essential to health. For those who have nut allergies, these benefits are obsolete. What can be used instead? First off, here are the complete proteins that every vegan (if not everyone) should add to their diets.

  • Quinoa - This complete food packs a big nutritional punch. It also happens to be versatile, gluten-free and delicious, so eat up!
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Hemp seeds, (THC free)
  • Chia seeds, ( Salvia hispanica)
  • Soy - Found virtually everywhere, soy is packed with protein and essential amino acids. This complete food can be enjoyed as milk, tofu and tempeh and in many other forms.
  • Spirulina - This blue-green algae is more of a supplement than a food, but it is a complete protein. Seeing as it is rich in both non-essential and essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals, it should be a part of a balanced diet.
  • Bee Pollen is a source of complete protein, and a source of other great nutrients. Bee pollen can be taken as is, as a supplement, or added in smoothies, etc...
  • Goji berries are a super-food, containing 18 amino-acids, which makes it a source of complete protein. Goji berries are delicious and are also a great source of vitamin C. They can be added to cereals, in smoothies, etc...
The complete list of the 9 essential amino acids is: Histidine, Valine, Isoleucine, Tryptophan, Leucine, Threonine, Lysine, Phenylalanine, Methionine.

Vegan Protein Supplement - Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Powder

Sunwarrior - Warrior Blend, Raw, Plant-Based Protein, Chocolate, 40 Servings (2.2 lbs)
Sunwarrior - Warrior Blend, Raw, Plant-Based Protein, Chocolate, 40 Servings (2.2 lbs)

This protein supplement is gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and non GMO.The mix is a blend of raw pea protein, raw cranberry protein, raw hemp protein, for a complete and balanced protein.

 

Organic Quinoa

Simple Quinoa Recipe

  • Add 2 and 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a pan, and bring to boil.
  • Add 2 small minced onions, and let it boil for 2-5 minutes. Boiling the onion more than the quinoa will make it disappear, but will give your quinoa a great taste.
  • After boiling the onions you should have in the pan 2 cups of liquid or a bit more.
  • Add one cup of quinoa to this liquid and boil for around 15 minutes, or until is done.
  • Serve warm.

Nature’s Earthly Choice: Organic Quinoa (1 x 4 lbs)
Nature’s Earthly Choice: Organic Quinoa (1 x 4 lbs)

Quinoa is one of my favorite seeds, it is a great source of protein, and is easy to cook.

 

Vegan Protein Rich Foods

Complete proteins may not be plentiful, that does not mean that meeting the protein intake requirement is out of reach - far from it. Many plant based foods are great sources of amino acids but they are not complete sources. Adding into your diet a variety of these complementary foods can combine to give you the nutrients your body needs. Here are a few protein and good-for-you-fat foods that will round out the diet of a vegan who is allergic to nuts.

  • Avocado - Assuming that one does not have an allergy to it, this food in high in omega-9 fatty acids, it is delicious too.
  • Spinach - A cup of spinach has about 7 grams of protein, not to mention other vitamins and minerals.
  • Sprouted grains and sprouted beans - These can include; alfalfa, mung bean, wheat, clover, adzuki, beans, and fenugreek
  • Barley
  • Lentils and other legumes
  • Kale
  • Peas

Some seeds are also exceptionally high in proteins and fats too. Here are a couple that are worth eating throughout the day:

  • Pumpkin Seeds - A superstar in the seed world, there are about 9 grams of protein per ounce and they are high in Omega- 3s.
  • Sunflower Seeds - Another protein packed seed with about 5.5 grams per ounce, these seeds are almost a complete food.
  • Sesame Seeds - Eaten whole or as tahini, these are highly nutritional.
  • Flaxseed
  • Hemp Seed

Nutiva Organic Hempseed Shelled

Just take a spoon of hemp seeds daily. You can eat it as it is, or add it in salads. It tastes great and is very easy to digest.A great recipe is the Couscous Salad with A Twist, you just have to make a couscous salad and add the shelled hemp seeds at the end.

Nutiva Organic Hempseed, Raw Shelled, 3 Pound
Nutiva Organic Hempseed, Raw Shelled, 3 Pound

The hemp seeds are one of the best sources of quality protein and essential fatty acids.The hemp seed protein makes up 33% of the total mass, and contains all 21 known amino-acids including the 9 essential ones. It is one of the best source of protein on Earth.

 

Vegan Complete Protein Combinations

Protein Combining for Nut Allergic Vegans

There are far more incomplete protein foods than complete foods. However, as aforementioned, foods can be combined to provide complete proteins. While making sure to have correct combinations at each meal is unnecessary, an idea of what goes with what can ensure a balanced, well thought out diet.

Nutritionists recommend eating a variety of foods, particularly proteins, as the day goes on to be sure you receive a complete array of amino acids.The amino acids in grains compliment those in legumes. Combining rice and beans or oat bran and soy milk, for example will give you a complete protein. Seeds and legumes are also complimentary. Hummus for example uses chickpeas and tahini, a delicious combo that gives you a complete protein.

Having a nut allergy does not mean you have to forgo your recommended daily intake of protein and fat. Healthy, great-tasting options are plentiful. With knowledge, forethought and planning, eating a balanced nutritional diet will be no problem.

While most vegan foods are not a complete source of protein, many foods can be combined to provide the proper amounts and kinds of amino acids needed for a complete protein intake.The protein can be stored in our body, so we don't have to eat complete protein meals every time. But it is very important to eat within a day or two from all food groups in order to make up the complete protein.There are three groups of food that combined will make up the complete protein.

  • The first group contains the Legumes, (beans), and the vegetables, such as black beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans, asparagus, green beans, sweet potato, potato, cabbage, broccoli, squash, etc...
  • The second group contains the nuts and seeds, but of course we will focus on the seeds only. The seeds can be pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc...
  • The third group is the grain group, with barley, wheat, corn, buckwheat, oats, etc...

Besides these three food groups, there is another group of vegetable super-foods that are sources of complete protein. The foods in this group are complete proteins, so they don't need to be combined with other foods. My personal favorites are:

  • quinoa
  • sorghum
  • amaranth
  • teff
  • chia

While amaranth, quinoa, and teff are imported, sorghum is a grain that grows in Northern America, and it grows in various climates. That means you can get it locally in most of the country.

Source

Super Grains

There are a lot of grains that are getting the culinary and medical world's attention, because of their fantastic nutritive value. We are only going to focus on one aspect though, the protein content, more specifically the essential amino acids.

Quinoa

Quinoa has been touted as a great source of complete protein, because it contains all of the essential amino acids in a great amount. It is indeed a great food, and a great replacement for meat in vegetarian diet plans. We cook fairly often quinoa because we love it, however it is not the best vegetable protein.

Chia seeds

Chia it is indeed a miracle grain, although with a fairly high content of all essential amino-acids, that is not why it is so prized. Chia is prized for its nutrients, trace minerals, for the high content in antioxidants, and the low calorie content.

Teff

Teff is indeed one of the grains with most content of protein. It contains two times more essential amino acids than Quinoa. 200 grams of uncooked teff grains will cover 85% of your protein needs. When we take in account the high mineral content, we realize that this is a miracle grain indeed. My favorite way to cook them is to make crackers.

Millet

I am not sure why millet is not as popular as quinoa, because it has a similar amino acids profile. Millet is also very tasty, and versatile in recipes. You can try it.

Sorghum

Sorghum is my favorite, probably because it grows in the Northern hemisphere, and it is such a hardy plant that can withstand the cold temperatures in Canada. I buy my sorghum locally at Maple Hill Urban Farm, but you can also find it on Amazon, if you want to try it. Sorghum has a fantastic protein profile, and it is actually better than quinoa, as a complete protein. It is also very versatile, you can use it in salads, with beans, in soups, etc... You can make a delicious tabouleh with it.

Amaranth

Amaranth is another miracle grain, loaded with proteins. Most of the grains, even the most complete protein ones, lack lysine, one of the essential amino acids. Amaranth contains 5% lysine, and 4.4% Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids, which makes it a great complement to any other grains.

Dried Beans

Dried beans are trivial, aren't they? However, you might include them in your list of must eat, because they contain a lot of lysine, an amino acid that is missing in most grains, even in super grains.

Buy Sorghum on Amazon

Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Sorghum 24 Ounce
Bob's Red Mill Whole Grain Sorghum 24 Ounce

Sorghum is a gluten free grain, with a great amino-acid profile, a great source of protein for anybody.

Sorghum's amino acid profile is better than quinoa, and it contains a lot of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. It is great for maintaining a good health, because it contains phytonutrients and other antioxidants, fiber, and it has a fantastic nutritional value.

Research has shown that sorghum can lower the risk of certain cancers, protects against diabetes and insulin resistance, and lowers cholesterol levels.

 

How to Cook Sorghum

Sorghum vs Quinoa

Source

Chia Seeds - Chia Seeds, The Amazing Superfood

Chia Choco Pudding1 cup almond milk4 tablespoons chia seeds1 teaspoon cocoa powder1 teaspoon caroob powder1/4 teaspoon cinnamon1 tablespoon maple syrupMix all the ingredients together, and put it in the fridge. After one hour stir again.Serve next day.

Healthworks Chia Seeds Raw Pesticide-Free, 2lb
Healthworks Chia Seeds Raw Pesticide-Free, 2lb

Chia seeds are a miracle food, packed with calcium, boron, antioxidants, iron, soluble fiber, potassium, omega 3, and more protein than any other bean seed or grain.If mixed with water it can expand it's size 3 times, forming a specific gel, great for keeping your body hydrated.

 

Fat Intake In Your Food

There is an unhealthy trend to remove fat from diet as a way to control the weight. First of all, removing the fats from a diet will affect other aspect of the metabolism, like vitamin absorption. Secondly, we need fat for a healthy skin, for testosterone production, etc... The subject is too complex, and is not within the scope of this writing. Nuts are a very healthy source of oils, that a vegan allergic to nuts will have to replace with other sources. Fortunately, this is very easy, just about any non-nut bottled oil would do it.Here are some options for you:

  • Seed oils - Just about any non-GMO seed oil has omega fats that are good for you and will help ensure you receive the fat needed to keep healthy.
  • Olive Oil - Extra virgin olive oil is a great-tasting and healthy way to keep good fats in your diet.
  • Flax oil - This particular seed oil is great for you. Just keep in mind that it is a 'delicate' oil and needs to be stored and used properly for best results.
  • Coconut oil
  • Sunflower oil

Guestbook Comments

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    • jolou profile image

      jolou 4 years ago

      I love quinoa and eat it sometimes for breakfast and other times dinner. Although I still eat meat there are many protein sources and they don't have unhealthy fat.

    • Fridayonmymind LM profile image

      Fridayonmymind LM 4 years ago

      Thank you for the suggestions.

    • profile image

      Auriel 4 years ago

      Great lens. interesting tips.

    • profile image

      vgopal 4 years ago

      Great tips, enjoyed this lens.

    • chi kung profile image

      chi kung 4 years ago

      this is a great lense for those who have nuts allergy!!! so great to know there is an alternative for them as well!!!Luckily I have no issues with nuts yet I found great alternatives myself here as well :)

    • iwrite100 profile image

      Maribel Forayo 4 years ago from Philippines

      Nut-free! Got to try one of those recipes.

    • profile image

      savmoy 4 years ago

      Very nice lens. I learned so much! I had never eaten Amaranth before. I tried your Amaranth pilaf recipe with one tiny change. After adding the chopped onions, the salt and the oil, I continued cooking for another 2 minutes while stirring all the time, before I added the water. Most pilaf recipes require for the rice (or other grains used) to be fried for a short while in oil before the water or bouillon is added. This provides special texture and additional flavor to the pilaf. But next time I will do it your way, as I am curious of the result. Thanks again!

    • PhilVardy profile image

      PhilVardy 4 years ago

      Excellent suggestions. nice lens. Thanks!

    • tammywilliams09 profile image

      tammywilliams09 3 years ago

      Great lens! Usually when I think of Protein I think of nut, seeds and Quinoa. I am glad to know about these other sources even though I an not a vegan.

    • Valerie Bloom profile image

      Valerie Bloom 3 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thanks this lens! I'm going to share it on the Vegan Journey Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/the.vegan.journeyMost of your info is fantastic...But I should point out that bee pollen isn't vegan.

    • Coffee-Break profile image
      Author

      Dorian Bodnariuc 3 years ago from Ottawa, Ontario Canada

      @Valerie Bloom: I guess it's a bit debatable, but I think you are right if we look from the polen's provenience perspective. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 2 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi,

      Thanks for a good hub. This is opening a new horizon showing path for getting protein for the vegans. Please write more hubs for the readers to enjoy. You can feel free to read my hubs, comment on those and rate . I have rated this article up and useful.

    Click to Rate This Article