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Secret Source of Protein

 

Psst, I want to let you in on a secret. Many people aren’t getting enough protein in their daily diets.

Protein provides energy, helps your body produce enzymes, keeps the immune system functioning and maintains healthy skin, hair and nails just to name a few benefits.

Bottom line — without enough protein your body won’t function properly and you’ll pay the price in a multitude of ways from sluggishness and muscle loss, to illness or worse. Commonly known sources of protein are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and tofu. But try adding some of my secret sources of protein into your daily routine…

Pumpkin Seeds These nutty little gems aren’t just for Halloween. Ounce for ounce, they contain more protein than any other nut or seed. A quarter cup has about 8.5 grams and is a rich source of many other vitamins and minerals. Studies show that the phytosterols they contain reduce cholesterol levels, enhance the immune response and may even decrease the risk of certain cancers.

Non or low fat Plain Greek Yogurt It’s thicker and creamier and contains 50% more protein than regular yogurt because it contains less water. Sweeten it up with a teaspoon of “no sugar added” jam or some fresh fruit.

Sardines Before you say yuck, find out what the Europeans have known about these tiny fish. They’re yummy straight out of the can or on crackers and are packed with protein, calcium, iron and potassium.

Lentils A cup of cooked lentils has a whopping 18 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat. Toss them in a salad cold, or puree them in the food processor with olive oil, water and spices for a healthy spread for pita bread or fresh veggies.

Recipe courtesy of Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food

SERVINGS 4

INGREDIENTS

1 cup lentils (French green lentils or black Beluga lentils are the best varieties to use for lentil salads because they have lots of flavor and they hold their shape when cooked.)

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt

Fresh-ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions or

3 tablespoons finely diced shallot

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

PREPARATION

1. Sort and rinse the lentils. Cover with water by 3 inches and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook until tender all the way through (adding more water if necessary), about 30 minutes. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

2. Toss the lentils with the red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh-ground black pepper. Let sit for 5 minutes. Taste and add more salt and vinegar if needed.

3. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, scallions or shallot, and parsley. Stir to combine. If the lentils seem dry and are hard to stir, loosen them with a bit of the reserved cooking liquid.

Do you really want a quick way to use lentils? Try this tip:

Trader Joe’s sells steamed and vacuum packed lentils in their refrigerated case. Buy, open, eat.

Pretty fast!

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