An Effort to End Nutritional Ignorance
I’m not here to take sides. If you love meat, you love meat. I get it. Sometimes the smell of a cheeseburger on a nearby grill, sends me floating cartoon-style on a levitating wave of vapor in the direction of said burger. But most of the time, I’m looking for other protein options. I used to think Beef, Chicken, and Pork were the only proteins around. I later learned dairy, fish and beans were also good sources. But I now know there are so many more tasty, lean, healthy protein options other than meat. So, let’s get to know a few, shall we?
Eggs: the other “other white meat” and don’t be afraid of the yolk; lotta good stuff for your body in there! Eat ’em scrambled, as an omelet, or hard-boiled—dealers choice! May wanna get ’em from the local farmers market and make sure they are free-range and aren’t from chickens that are cooped up and shot up! unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Beans: we’ve all heard “they’re good for your heart…”, but who knew they’re good for muscles and other stuff too! So many from which to choose: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, edamame (Favorite!), garbonzo beans (you know, chick peas, the stuff they use to make humus), cannelloni beans, soy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans (not so sure why they’re so great and what they are north of? but tasty nonetheless), lima beans (yuck), mung beans (???), fava beans (Silence of the Lambs), the list goes on….Lentils (YUM), peas and legumes (which I’m still learning about) are also included here…”The more you eat, the better you feel, so let’s eat beans for every meal!” [delish edamame recipe here] [black bean chili recipe here] (and bean salad recipes coming soon)
Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, this list goes on. These are listed in approximate order from “healthiest” to more calorie dense). A heaping hand full has about the same amount of protein as a chicken breast. Plus they, too, have lots of fiber which helps prevent colon cancer! (nobody wants to have to have a cancerous colon removed, just ask around) Add them to salads and yogurt to keep you fuller longer!
Dairy options: Greek yogurt (not the fake stuff) has about 20 grams of protein in one lil ole cup, throw some walnuts in there and you’ve met your daily protein quota! Cheese (yes please!) and milk. Nowadays, I’m liking almond milk better than cow milk. It doesn’t spoil as fast and you can store unopened cartons in the cabinets. Almond milk has less sugar and fewer calories and carbs, and is less expensive than milk if you get plain no vanilla—I like Almond Breeze.
Tempeh: “What the heck is tempeh?” you say. (pronounced “temp-hay”) Oh only just the most proteinaceous, yummy, nutty, soy protein compilation around. Don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar. Try it somewhere they know how to prepare it, on a salad or in chili or something first. Then make your own: drizzle something yummy on it and bake it (directions on package) or add it to soup, stew or chili; or to stir fry. It’s usually found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated vegetable/produce section. Temp-Heeyyy!
Tofu: not for everyone, sometimes can be a bit mushy; but if it’s done well, this is another Fantastically-loaded-with-protein-almost-no-fat-few calories option like tempeh. So learn to prepare it different ways: crumble it up and add it to things like marinara sauce, soups, stir-fry, etc. [good tofu recipe here]
So before we close, just a word on how much protein we need. It varies depending on your body habitus, your activity level, muscle mass, among other variables. But in general we don’t need as much as we think we do.