Powerful Pea Protein - Nutrition Advice from Your Pawling Hannaford Dietitian

Increasing numbers of individuals living with allergies and elevated interest in vegetarian/vegan diets have led many in the U.S. to seek alternative protein sources. Historically, foods for this population contained soy protein, but with fewer seeking soy, the food industry has had to pursue other sources of protein that are not only soy free, but also nut, wheat, fish, and dairy free, too, as these make up the top allergens in the U.S. Enter pea protein, the vegetarian protein that is showing up across your supermarket from the frozen section to the aisles.

According to a report by Global Market Insights, Inc., the pea protein market will exceed $200 million by 2023. Analysts point to growing interest in functional foods and supplements, along with the need for allergy friendly and GMO-free foods, as the base for this exceptional growth in the pea protein industry. Even today, we can see how its use is expanding in the food industry.

Ice cream

Dairy-free options in the ice cream section have significantly increased in recent years, including many choices that aren’t only dairy free, but also protein rich. While I wouldn’t say this turns our ice cream into “health food,” it is a trend worth noting. Pea protein has been center stage in this growth of protein-rich alternative dairy sources, while cashew, almond, and coconut make up the texture and fat content.

“Meat” alternatives

When I speak with customers and introduce them to soy-free meat alternatives they are delighted. There is no doubt that vegetarian options such as burgers and the like have historically been rich in soy, which has contributed not only to significant soy intake for this population, but has been very limiting for vegetarian consumers attempting to avoid soy. Read the ingredient lists on packaging to find the products that make use of pea protein.

Pea Powder

Available as a pea powder, a ¼ cup will add about 20 grams of protein to your smoothies and some other recipes. It’s important to note that when used this way, it can add a bitter taste to your recipes so in some cases you may only be able to use a tablespoon or two. That said, it can be a clean, allergy friendly way to add satiating protein to (often carbohydrate-rich) smoothies.

It’s important to note that pea protein, as an addition to processed foods or as a powder, is an isolated and concentrated protein source. This is different from peas that may round out family dinner. While a ½ cup of raw peas is quite rich in vitamin A and potassium (among other nutrients), it isn’t a significant protein source (4 grams per ½ cup).

As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit www.hannaford.com/dietitians for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours, or call 845-855-0553 for more information.


Extra quinoa on hand? Try these allergy friendly, vegan (3 Guiding Stars!) Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers. They may not be made with pea protein, but they are protein rich and worthy of your regular dinner rotation. Please visit www.guidingstars.com for more on the Guiding Stars nutrition guidance program.


1 15½ ounce can low-sodium black beans

1/2 cup cooked quinoa

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


1. Drain and rinse the can of black beans. Cook quinoa according to package directions.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the beans and cooked quinoa with the remainder of the ingredients.

3. Mix the ingredients together, mashing the beans as you go. Divide the mixture into four equal balls, and form each into a patty.

4. In a medium saucepan over high heat, cook the patties in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil for 1 minute on each side, or until lightly browned.

5. Transfer the saucepan to a 400 degrees oven and bake for 15 minutes.