Meatless Protein - Not an Oxymoron

A recent discussion on protein supplements for athletes prompted me to think about protein intake for this Meatless Monday.

Studies have shown that vegetarian athletes can excel at their sports as well as their omnivorous counterparts. Also, it's fairly difficult to be deficient in protein in industrialized countries even for vegetarians and vegans. Protein is found in practically every kind of food we eat so it's more likely for Americans to overdose on protein than to be not having enough.

While animal sources are "gold standards" of complete protein*, it is possible to get high quality protein from plants, too. Soybeans, buckwheat, quinoa, spirulina, and amaranth are considered complete protein. And the added bonus from these foods is that they are low in fat and contains lots of fiber for good digestive health!

Here is the nutrition breakdown of a couple of my favorite protein-packed plant foods.
Quinoa per 3.5 oz or 1/2 cup uncooked grains
Protein: 14 grams      Calories: 368 kcal      Fat: 6 grams (0.6 grams saturated)

Edamame (young soybeans) per 3.5 oz or 1/2 cup serving
Protein: 11 grams      Calories: 127 kcal      Fat: 6 grams (0.5 grams saturated)

There may be a small place for protein supplements in the athletic world somewhere out there, but it's hard to surpass what the Earth has given us for thousands of years. If these grains and beans worked for our ancestors who hunted for a living, I have a feeling they'll work just fine for us, too. 

Quinoa with chopped kale and carrots
Quinoa, cooked in vegetable broth
Kale, chopped into small pieces
Carrot, diced
Garlic, rough chopped or minced
Salt and pepper

I apologize for having no measurements... I haven't formed the habit of measuring ingredients when I cook yet.

* Complete protein simply means that the food source contains all 8 of the essential amino acids that humans cannot synthesis in the body. Incomplete protein, usually from plant sources, does not provide all 8 of the essential amino acids but can be combined with other plant sources to form complete protein. 


delwin said...

Works for me =D

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