New Year, New You: The Power of Protein

Proteins provide us with the building blocks that you need to make and maintain your muscles, organs, and immune systems. Protein can also be used for energy when you don't have enough carbohydrates in your diet. Protein is the only food source of nitrogen and is made up of chains of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids, eight of which are called Essential Amino Acids. Essential Amino Acids cannot be made by our bodies therefore we must get them from food.

What does protein do?
• Proteins are the basic building blocks of the human body, without them we couldn’t live.
• Protein is the nutrient responsible for new growth in our bodies. We lose protein in the form of hair, skin and nails on a daily bases. Protein makes new cells to replace the ones lost.
• Anti bodies which consist of protein are essential in helping our bodies fight and resist diseases.
• Protein is supplied to the body to help heal and repair injuries.
• For growing children protein is needed for growth of the entire body.

Where do we get protein from?

Protein comes from the food we eat and are classed as either Complete or Incomplete proteins.

proteins come from animal products such as chicken, fish and dairy products and they contain all the essential amino acids which are needed to help keep our body fit and healthy. Animal protein sources provide all of the essential amino acids so they are called complete proteins. People who eat meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs get all of the essential amino acids each time they eat any of these protein sources. This does not mean that protein derived from other sources (plant-based proteins) are incomplete.

Incomplete proteins
are found in plant foods such as grains, nuts, beans and vegetables and provide a limited array of amino acids. To meet your daily amino acids quota eating a variety of incomplete proteins throughout the day will enable you to receive all that is needed for protein building.

How do Vegetarians and Vegans Get Enough Protein?

There are 20 different amino acids and when combined make the protein in your body. Your body can make 12 of these amino acids all by itself, but it needs to get the other 8 from food. These eight are called, essential acids.

Vegetarians and vegans rely on plant proteins to get their amino acids. Soy and Quinoa, on their own, contain all of the essential amino acids making them a complete protein. Other plant protein sources are incomplete proteins, meaning that they don't provide all of the essential amino acids on their own. However, vegans and vegetarians who eat a variety of plant proteins throughout the course of the day will get all of their amino acid needs met.

Here are some combination's of plant proteins that will provide you with all of the amino acids you need

• Grains + legumes (black beans and rice)
• Nuts and seeds + legumes (Lentil soup with a serving of almonds on the side)
• Corn + legumes (veggie chili with beans and corn)

There are lots of possible combination's

• Try whole grain pasta tossed with peas, almonds, and your favorite sauce.
• Whole grain toast with almond butter will give you a complete protein.
• Bean soup with whole grain crackers.
• Corn tortillas with beans and rice.
• Quinoa and Soy on their own are complete proteins!

How much protein do we need?
The body’s protein needs on a daily basis depend on your age, sex and weight, on average the amount of protein you need can be worked out by multiplying your weight in pounds by the numbers shown below:
• An adult who doesn’t exercise much – weight x 0.5g
• An adult who exercises on a regular basis – weight x 1g
• An athlete – weight x1.5g plus
• An adult who is body building for muscle mass – weight x1.5g plus
• A growing teenage athlete – weight x1g

Protein Sources

Peas 1 cup 9g

Lentils 1 cup 16g

Spinach 2 cups 10.8g

Whole grain bread 2 slices 7g

Corn on the Cob 1 ear 4.2g

Brown Rice 1 cup 4.8g

Quinoa 1 cup 8g

Sunflower Seeds 2 oz 7.5g

Beef fillet steak 3.5oz (100g) 29g

Chicken Breast 3.5oz (100g) 32g

Turkey Breast, roasted 3.5oz (100g) 33g

Canned Tuna 1 small tin (100g) 24g

Grilled Salmon 3.5oz (100g) 24g

Cheddar Cheese 1 matchbox (30g) 8g

1 Egg 6g

Natural Yogurt Small carton (125g) 6g

Natural Peanut Butter 1 tbsp 4g

Hummus 1 tsp 1.11g

Tofu Half packet(125g) 10g

Whole Grain Pasta 1 bowl (100g) 17g

Almond Butter 1 tbsp 5g

What's for dinner?

Mom's Lentil Soup

My mother first made this lentil soup when she was off work and undergoing radiation. She had insomnia from the radiation and all the meds so she would stay up all night and cook. She took a recipe from a book or magazine (not too sure) and wrote it out on a recipe card with her own edits. The result was a delicious, nutritious and comforting soup. Made with love and packed with 32 grams of protein. My Mom's Lentil Soup rocks and so did she. It would have made her smile ear-to-ear knowing I make this soup and am sharing it with others. Bon Appetit!

Mom's Lentil Soup

2 cups dried lentils
8 cups water
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup chopped celery
3 fresh or canned roma tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
½ tsp dried oregano

Wash and pick over lentils
Soak overnight in 2 cups water
In soup pot sauté onion, garlic, carrots and celery in olive oil until tender.
Add lentils, water, tomatoes, salt, pepper, bay leaves and oregano; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and cook for 2 ½ - 3 hours, until lentils are soft.
Remove bay leaves.
At this point mixture can be pureed until smooth (optional)
Thin with water (if necessary)
Return mixture to soup pot and heat.
Stir and serve.

Yield 8 servings
Protein 32 grams