Meet Your Protein Needs Without Meat

Monday, September 29, 2014 11:33 AM comments (0)

Protein is an essential element of a healthy, well-balanced diet. In fact, protein makes up a large part of all your body’s cells, which is why it is so important that you get enough each day. And that’s especially true for those following a vegetarian, nearly vegetarian or vegan diet who don’t get their daily requirement from protein-rich sources like meat. The good news is that reaching your daily protein needs doesn’t mean having to include more meat or even any meat all.Vegetarian-Protein

Just how much protein do you need on a daily basis? Women need approximately 46 grams and men 56 grams of protein each day. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers need to add additional protein to their diets. On average, it is recommended that they get 70 grams each day. Athletes and active individuals also require more protein based on the length, frequency and intensity of their workouts, which could mean increasing their protein intake by 50% more than a non-active man or woman.

Nearly every food contains some amount of protein but there are plenty of protein-rich, vegetarian-friendly options out there too. It might surprise you just how much protein there is in some of these healthy, meatless foods.

Jennifer Panicko, RD, LDN at NorthShore, shares some of the best veggie-friendly options to maximize daily protein intake:

  • Lentils. These pack a serious protein punch with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup. 
  • Greek yogurt. All dairy products are good sources of protein but Greek yogurt kicks it up a notch with approximately 20 grams per 6-ounce serving.
  • Chickpeas. There are 8 grams of protein per serving of chickpeas. Chickpeas also happen to be the main ingredient in hummus. Put it on crackers or veggies for a high-protein snack.
  • Beans. This one won’t surprise you. Most beans—black, pinto, soy—are heavy hitters when it comes to protein, with approximately 7 to 10 grams per serving. They’re also lower in calories than meat-based proteins and have lots of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Fruits and vegetables. That’s right! They are great sources of protein as well. Avocados have about 5 grams of protein per serving and a cup of spinach has 5 grams too.
  • Eggs. Many vegetarians won’t eat eggs but for lacto-ovo vegetarians (consume dairy and eggs), they are a great source with 6 grams per egg.
  • Tempeh and Tofu. These whole soy alternatives are great sources of protein with 8-12 grams per 3-ounce serving.
  • Quinoa. This grain is a complete protein, meaning it has the same protein content and quality of an egg! This super grain packs 8 grams of protein in 1 cooked cup.

What are some of your favorite vegetarian protein sources?

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The 5 Seeds of a Healthy Diet

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 12:44 PM comments (0)

sunflower seedsSometimes the best gifts come in small packages and sometimes the best foods do too. They might not look like much but seeds can pack a hefty nutritional punch. Tiny titans of a healthy diet, seeds contain nutrients like protein, fiber, iron and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Jennifer Panicko, Registered Dietitian at NorthShore, discusses the big benefits of adding any of these five seeds to your already healthy diet:

Chia seeds. Packed with fiber, chia seeds are filling and nutrient-rich, adding omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium and iron to the mix too. Their pleasant nutty flavor means they can be consumed raw or added to yogurts, oatmeal and sprinkled on top of favorite whole grain snacks.
Recipe: Banana almond overnight oatmeal with chia seeds

Sunflower seeds. With lots of B vitamins, especially folate, sunflower seeds are a great snack for pregnant women and those looking to boost the strength of their immune systems. They also have lots of vitamin E, and, even better, are packed with protein and heart-healthy fats. Go natural and skip the salted variety.
Recipe: Shaved squash, sunflower seed and feta salad 

Flax seeds. Small but mighty, flax seeds are brimming with nutritional value. They contain heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, lignans—which are plant-based phytoestrogen that have been shown to lower one’s risk for some types of cancer—and both soluble and insoluble fiber. Make sure to grind the seeds before consuming to ensure you get their full benefits.
Recipe: Date and oat muffins with flax seeds 

Sesame seeds. The health benefits of sesame seeds go on and on. They are high in antioxidants, which help boost the immune system, and have been shown to lower hypertension and bad cholesterol, and reduce stress levels. With a delicate nutty flavor, they can be added to just about anything.
Recipe: Salmon with sesame and orange relish  

Pumpkin seeds.  A delicious source of B vitamins and iron, pumpkin seeds are also high in a particular amino acid that has been shown to reduce anxiety: tryptophan.  They’re also a fantastic source for omega-3 fatty acids, which can help lower bad cholesterol levels. Serve them raw or roasted, either will make a healthy snack. 
Recipe: Corn and quinoa summer salad with toasted pumpkin seeds

What is your favorite seeded recipe?

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