Pea protein: it's pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a plant-based protein that's been extracted from peas, yellow ones. The process for isolating the protein is a lot less scary than you might expect: manufacturers simply mill dried peas into flour, separate the starch from the protein, and then use the protein as a food additive in everything from almond milk to vegan meatballs.
But even if you are the furthest thing from a vegetable-lover — like, your idea of eating your veggies amounts to the lettuce and tomato on your beloved BLT — you still ought to give pea protein a chance, and here's why:
It's surprisingly high in protein. An average serving of pea protein isolate has about 20 grams of highly bioavailable protein. That's more than three times the amount of protein in a large egg, twice the protein as 10 almonds, and equal to the amount of protein in a hamburger.
It's super hypoallergenic. Pea protein is naturally dairy-free, soy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free. So if you are allergic or avoiding any of these foods — no problem!
It has a neutral flavor. Looking to amp up the protein in your go-to pancakes, muffins, or bread recipe? Look no further than pea protein. Unlike most protein powders out there (think: very, very vanilla), the flavor is pretty much unflavored.
It's all about diversity. Even if you're perfectly content with your current sources of protein, why not throw pea into the mix? "A healthy diet is a diverse diet, and we see pea protein as part of that diversity," commented Brian Kincaid of Beyond Meat, an innovative producer of plant-based meat substitutes backed by Bill Gates and Twitter cofounder Biz Stone.
Ready to give it a go? Read on for our roundup of six taste-tested pea-protein products readily available at a supermarket near you.