What I Ate Wednesday by Megan McCafferty
Protein. The thing all the cool kids are talking about. But what is it, why do we need it, and how can we get more of it?
Protein is a vital nutrient required for building, maintaining, and repairing tissues, cells, and organs throughout the body. When you eat protein, it is broken down into the 20 amino acids that are the body’s basic building blocks for growth and energy.
Most animal sources of protein, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy, deliver all the amino acids your body needs, while plant-based protein sources such as grains, beans, vegetables, and nuts often lack one or more of the essential amino acids. However, that doesn’t mean you have to eat animal products to get the right amino acids. By eating a variety of plant-based sources of protein each day you can ensure your body gets all the essential amino acids it needs.
Multiple studies have suggested that higher-protein diets result in greater weight loss, greater fat loss, and higher preservation of lean mass than diets poor in protein. It helps fill you up without having to rely on carbohydrates. Having protein in your meals slows down digestion making us more satisfied and less likely to go back for seconds. Protein also fuels fat burning! Hurray! Your body cannot effectively burn and use fat as energy if it doesn’t have help from either carbohydrate or protein. It is also important to increase your protein intake on days that you exercise, as protein promotes muscle repair and growth. Despite all this, most people's diets seriously lack in the protein department.
Supplements like protein powders and bars are all the rage at the moment, but these can be expensive and not exactly the tastiest. This Wednesday I dedicated my meals to ensuring I got a good level of protein in the most simple and tasty way possible.
Breakfast: Egg cups!
Leftover veggies will never go to waste if you use them in these delicious breakfast egg cups. Eggs are an amazing source of protein, one large 2 oz. whole egg without the shell contains 6 g protein. Of this protein, 3 g is contained in the egg yolk and 3 g in the egg white.
1. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 190°C (375°F).
2. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add your veggies! You can mix and match your fillings to suit your taste. Here are some ideas;
Onion, finely diced
Red, yellow or green peppers, finely diced
Broccoli, cut into small florets
4. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes until centers are set and no longer runny.
5. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
Extras may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to a month. Microwave thawed egg cups on high for 45-60 seconds or until hot.
Snacks: Apple slices in a nut butter
My favourite healthy snack has to be apple slices in Almond butter or peanut butter! Nothing could be simpler or tastier! Just slice up an apple, and scoop your chosen spread into a little side dish and voila!
Nut butters are a great source of vegetable protein. Both of which are available in most Irish supermarkets. As it turns out, peanut butter has a small lead over almond butter in terms of protein content. There are 6.7 grams of protein in a serving of almond butter, and 7.1 grams of protein in a serving of peanut butter. That’s more than one large egg!
Another idea is to sprinkle some seeds over your buttery apple slices. 1oz of seeds contains 9g of protein and gives it a lovely extra crunch.
Lunch : Quinoa
Add it to salads or as a replacement to rice or pasta, quinoa (pronounced ‘keen-wa’) is your new best friend! As a complete protein, quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids.
Quinoa seeds have a naturally bitter coating to deter birds that must be soaked off before preparing. Packaged quinoa has likely been pre-soaked, but check before cooking.
To cook it, soak 1 cup quinoa in 2 cups water for 5-10 minutes (to dissolve any remaining bitter coating). Drain and rinse. Pour into a pot and add 1 1/2 cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt. Boil, then cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Fluff with a fork and serve. Quinoa can be eaten on its own as a side dish, with a bit of butter or oil, salt and pepper, or other seasonings. My own personal tip would be to cook it in vegetable stock, it gives it the perfect amount of extra flavour! Trust me.
Now we all know Chicken is the king of protein, but let’s spice things up and talk about salmon.
Did you know there are 6 different species of salmon? A 3 ounce serving of salmon can contain up to 23 grams of protein, which can easily help you meet about half your daily recommended protein needs, which FYI are 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.
Salmon is surprisingly versatile and there are a multitude of recipes out there to keep things interesting. My favourite way to season salmon is to marinate it in a little honey and soy sauce with half a garlic clove. For this there are no exact measurements, just do a little taste test and see how you like it! Another way to season is with butter, salt, lemon juice, and maybe even some chilli flakes depending on your taste. Personally I prefer my Salmon baked. To do so bake, uncovered, at 200°C (400°F) for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
I hope you enjoyed these little recipes. If you try them out make sure to take a picture and use the hashtag #Besteverme, and follow us on our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Sign up today to join a Community of Beauty, Rejuvenation and Wellbeing Experts, and you, the Consumers who want to learn all about the Treatments, Services and Products available and find places local to you that offer them.
Until next time!