It’s amazing how many uniquely named foods provide you with essential protein, vitamins and minerals for a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet.
Food: Kasha (“kah-sha”)
What It Is: Kasha is roasted whole-grain buckwheat that’s commonly used as a side dish or in recipes for breakfast cereal. It’s actually a wheat-free whole grain, so even people with gluten intolerance can eat kasha.
Health Benefits: One cup of cooked kasha provides 18 percent of your daily value of fiber, which can lower bad cholesterol. Kasha is low in sodium and also provides a healthy dose of potassium, lowering your risk for heart disease, stroke and kidney issues.
Food: Tempeh (“tem-pay”)
What It Is: Made from cooked and lightly fermented soybeans, tempeh is high in calcium and protein with a nutty flavor. It’s a great low-fat addition to a vegetarian diet and has more protein per gram than tofu. Add it to stir fry, soup or meatless chili.
Health Benefits: Tempeh can help keep your digestive tract healthy and prevent many chronic diseases. That’s because it’s packed with a ton of fiber! It’s easy to digest and is very low in sodium but high in natural antibiotics.
Food: Seitan (“say-tahn”)
What It Is: Seitan, also known as “wheat meat” or “mock duck,” is made from wheat gluten and has the consistency of meat when cooked. It takes on the flavor of whatever it’s paired with, so consider marinating seitan before grilling, baking or pan-frying.
Health Benefits: Because seitan contains wheat gluten, it should be avoided if you’re on a gluten-free diet. Otherwise, it’s a good source of plant-based protein that’s low in fat, with just 1.5 grams in a 3-ounce portion.
Food: Ghee (“gee”)
What It Is: Originating in South Asia and commonly used in the region’s cuisine, ghee is a type of clarified butter. It’s made by melting butter, cooking away the water, and separating the golden butterfat from the milk solids.
Health Benefits: Ayurvedic practice recommends using ghee to treat everything from poor digestion to memory loss. It’s believed to lubricate connective tissue and help with flexibility. The butyric acid found in ghee also has antiviral and anti-cancer properties.
Food: Quinoa (“keen-wah”)
What It Is: Quinoa is actually a seed that can be prepared similar to rice or barley. It contains the highest amount of protein found in whole grains and provides nine essential amino acids, which actually makes it a complete protein. Plus, quinoa is gluten-free, kosher and contains no cholesterol.
Health Benefits: With nearly twice as much fiber as other grains, quinoa helps prevent heart disease and lowers high blood pressure. Its iron content keeps red blood cells healthy, improves brain function and helps regulate body temperature. Quinoa is also a source of magnesium, lysine, riboflavin and the antioxidant manganese.
Food: Kamut (“kuh-moot”)
What It Is: With a rich and buttery flavor, kamut is a cereal grain that originated in Ancient Egypt. Unlike other types of wheat, kamut hasn’t been altered or modified through modern agriculture, so it’s very nutritional, even though it does contain gluten.
Health Benefits: Kamut boasts 20 to 40 percent more protein than common wheat and is made up of Vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and more. The grain can lower your risk for Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancers. Kamut is also helpful in weight management because it promotes a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements.