Combine two big wellness trends—upping your protein intake and eating more plant-based foods—and it’s no wonder the hot protein source du jour is peas.
Though they get lumped in with vegetables (an occupational hazard of being green), peas are actually legumes, so they’re in the same family as black beans, chickpeas and lentils. And in fact, the peas used purely as a protein source are usually field peas, not garden-variety sweet green peas; that is, they’re grown to be dried (you know them as the same ones that are sold as split peas). Along with packing plenty of protein, those field peas are a good source of fiber, iron, manganese, potassium and folate.
Here are a few easy ways to hop on the pea protein trend:
- Ripple: This new product aims to shake up the nondairy milk sector with a beverage made from yellow peas. Why pea milk? According to company cofounder Adam Lowry (who also cofounded green cleaning product company Method), Ripple has less sugar and more vitamins A and D, iron and calcium than dairy, eight times more protein than almond milk, and it offers some omega-3s. We taste-tested the milk and found it very mild, somewhat akin to soy milk, but far more neutral. Ripple will be sold in “original” flavor (lightly sweetened), original unsweetened, vanilla and chocolate.
- Health Warrior Chia Protein Bars: These tasty, not-too-sweet snacks provide 10 grams of plant-based protein per two-ounce bar (from peas, chia and quinoa). Unlike many bars on the market, these have few ingredients, all recognizable. With appealing flavors like Honey Almond, Lemon Goldenberry and Dark Chocolate Coconut Sea Salt, you’ll look forward to grabbing one of these post workout.
- Go Macro Bars: The protein in these substantial bars comes from a mix of pea protein and sprouted brown rice protein, so you get that classic rice-and-beans mix in a convenient easy package. Flavors like Morning Harvest, Sweet Rejuvenation and Prolonged Power pack in wholesome ingredients like nut and seed butters, carob, coconut and dried fruit, making these sturdy vegan and macrobiotic bars a great option for traveling or stashing in your bag for snack “emergencies.”
- Kashi GoLean Clusters cereal, Vanilla Pepita: If you’ve been avoiding cereal for the lack of tasty, protein rich and relatively low-sugar options, grab a spoon. This cereal offers 9 grams of protein per cup (from peas), with six grams of filling fiber as well. It’s also full of whole grains like sorghum, oats and millet, with pepitas for added crunch and vanilla for sweetness.
- Gluten-Free Green Pea Flour: Use this handy product to make the quickest pea soup ever (just add a water-broth combo and bring to a boil). It’s also great for upping the protein in breads, crackers, muffins and pancakes, as a gluten-free flour to dredge fish or chicken before pan-frying, or to thicken dips.