Protein is essential for the healthy functioning of every cell in your body, so it’s not surprising it makes up part of most of our day-to-day foods. High-protein foods are found in every fridge and pantry; eggs, almonds, chicken breast, oats, yoghurt, and broccoli to name a few. But what if you want to stray from the beaten track? Some of the best sources of plant protein and animal-based protein are found in the strangest of places, so that’s exactly where you’ll need to look.
Crickets contain all of the essential amino acids your cells need to repair and generate. Containing about 65% protein, these springy insects taste nutty, with some reports hinting at flavours reminiscent of popcorn. If that doesn’t appeal to you, you can always try cricket flour – all of the health benefits without the legs.
Barnacles use a protein-rich adhesive cement to attach themselves to underwater objects. This, and the barnacle itself, provides a complete protein source that many have jumped at the opportunity to try. A rare culinary tradition, but popular in Spanish and Portuguese cultures, the Gooseneck Barnacle is often likened to octopus in terms of taste.
A 100-gram snail serving will provide 16.5 grams of protein, which compares well with that of seafood. However, snails also offer high levels of iron and other minerals, making them a great all-round snack for the adventurous.
Pumpkin seeds have an amazing 19g of protein packed into every 100g. While often roasted and incorporated into a number of delicious recipes, pumpkin seeds’ nutritional value peaks when they’re eaten fresh from the pumpkin.
Originating in Indonesia, this soy product rivals tofu, which many believe to be one of the best sources of plant protein. Tempeh is still relatively undiscovered in comparison, and yet offers a number of nutritional benefits over tofu. The fermentation process in production means enzymes break this protein down and allow us to digest it much more easily.
Weighing in at a whopping 57g of protein per 100g, spirulina algae contains all 8 essential amino acids as well as their micronutrients. It’s even been unofficially classified the most nutrient-dense food in existence. If you’re looking for the best sources of plant protein, Spirulina offers everything you could need and more – including powerful antioxidants and the ability to stabilise blood sugar levels.