Though most of us do just fine meeting our needs, sometimes it can be a challenge to work protein into our diet. How do you get enough protein? If you are a vegetarian, you might hear this question a lot.

While protein is most commonly found in meat and dairy products, it is also a key component in many types of plants and grains. Protein helps to build muscles and decrease your recovery time after a hard workout. The good news is that adding protein throughout the day as a vegetarian is easier than you think. Make protein powder, bars, and fortified foods your last resorts instead of staples, and instead, try these five easy real-food approaches to up your protein intake:

1. Beans and legumes – Beans and lentils are high in protein and come in all shapes, colours and sizes! Add them to soups, casseroles and salads.
2. Nuts – Almonds are at the top of the list containing the highest protein, followed by walnuts, pistachios, cashews and hazelnuts. Nuts are easy to include in salad or blended into nut butter.
3. Leafy greens – Surprisingly enough, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale have a high amount of protein. Try including these as a side dish or part of your main meal.
4. Quinoa – the perfect substitute for rice or couscous, quinoa contains more protein as well as nine amino acids.
5. Soy – Found in many foods including soymilk and tofu, soy is a great source of protein that is easy to include in your meals.

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