Day 4: Veg Out!

beans

This is part of a series of blog posts called “14 Days to a Healthier You”

Many of my clients worry that they won’t get enough protein unless they eat meat on a daily basis.  The truth is, most Americans get too much protein! Thanks to popular diets like Atkins and South Beach, we’ve become a protein-obsessed society.  That doesn’t mean protein isn’t important — it is. But there are many non-meat options that also provide adequate amounts of protein.

I eat meat (and, indeed, like it quite a bit) but not every day. Meats are heavy foods and are difficult for our bodies to digest. I like to give my body a break a few times a week by eating a vegetarian diet and, when I am eating meat, keeping the portion small (about the size of my fist).

Some of my favorite vegetarian sources of protein include:

  • Beans — I LOVE beans! Black beans and black-eyed peas are my favorite. In the winter, I make a lot of bean-based soups and chilis, which are easy to take to work or freeze for later.  In the summer, I could live on black beans, brown rice, and fresh corn.
  • Lentils — Lentils are full of protein and iron and are a terrific substitute for red meat. You can buy red lentils (which are more soupy), french lentils (which keeps their shape when cooked), and brown lentils (which are in between the other two in terms of texture — these are the lentils most commonly found in lentil soup).
  • Nuts and seeds — The perfect snack, because it has protein and good fats, which keep the body satisfied. I always keep some almonds lying around for noshing in between meals. I also love peanut butter in my morning smoothies.
  • Tempeh — Made of fermented soybeans (sounds gross, but it’s tasty!), tempeh has a ridiculous amount of both protein and fiber, so it’s very filling. I use it in stir fries or bake and marinate in the oven.
  • Tofu — This is one of the most processed forms of soy, so I try not to make this a staple of my diet.  I love tofu sauted or blended into a dessert, like tofu cheesecake.

RECOMMENDATION: Go vegetarian one day a week. If you find you have more energy, try adding another day or two per week.

RECIPES:

Zucchini Ricotta Cheesecake
Mexican Bowl
Easy Chickpea Salad
Quinoa with Black Beans and Cilantro
Coconut tofu, black  beans, and mango
Spring smoothie
White Bean, Mushroom, and Zucchini-Stuffed Peppers
Sizzling Tempeh Cutlets

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