Protein, like carbohydrates and fats, is one of the three macronutrients needed as part of a complete and healthy diet. Protein plays many important roles in the body including but not limited to:
· As structural building blocks and as fuel for energy
· To maintain and build muscles and other body tissues
· Required for cell growth and repair
· To transport nutrients within the body
There are many different sources of protein out there including animal sources sources like beef, chicken, eggs, fish, milk, yogurt, and cheese as well as vegetarian sources likes nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, soy milk, and tofu.
Aim to included a source of protein at all meals, ideally making up a ¼ of your plate.
Proteins are made up of tiny building blocks called amino acids. Animal based protein sources likes meats, seafood and dairy, as well as soy products, contain all the amino acids that humans require to live. Vegetarian protein sources like nuts, seeds, and legumes, do not contain all the amino acids independently, and therefore need to be paired together for a healthy diet.
Tips for choosing the best protein sources:
· Choose lean protein sources more often like chicken, turkey, eggs, fish, and tofu rather than fatter options like beef or cheese.
· Remove the skin from chicken and other poultry whenever possible, and cut off the fatty portions from your cuts of beef, pork or lamb.
· When choosing vegetarian protein options, make sure to have a variety of protein sources at each meal such as beans and seeds, or nuts and whole grains, to ensure nutritional adequacy.
Baked Lemon Chicken
4 chicken breasts
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons oil, olive or canola
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 lemon, sliced (if desired)
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pound chicken breasts lightly so they are of even thickness.
2. Whisk together lemon juice and zest, minced garlic and oil in a small bowl then pour into a baking dish. Lightly dredge the chicken through to coat it, then place chicken breasts side by side in the dish.
3. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning, then rub it in with your hands. Place chicken breasts side by side, making sure there is no overlap. Arrange a few lemon slices on top of the chicken.
4. Bake in a preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, basting once or twice, or until juices are clear and meat is fully cooked in the middle.
6. Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes while the juices settle before slicing.
7. Serve immediately, garnished with lemon slices, if desired.
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
1/2 cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons vinegar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
2. Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.
Easy Marinated Tofu
1 block of firm tofu (275 g), diced
1/4 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp syrup or honey
1 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cayenne powder
1 tsp cornstarch
Oil, canola or olive, to coat the pan
Chopped chives (optional)
1. Mix water, soy sauce, vinegar, syrup or honey, garlic powder and cayenne powder in a bowl until well combined.
2. Add the diced tofu and let it marinate, covered in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. If you let it marinate longer, it will have a more intense flavor.
3. Strain the tofu; but don’t discard the liquid.
4. Heat oil in a pan and sauté the tofu in a frying pan until golden brown.
5. Add the marinade liquid to a bowl with cornstarch and mix until well combined. Pour the sauce into the frying pan with the tofu and cook until it thickens.
6. Serve and garnish with some chopped chives (optional).
7. Keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for 4 to 5 days.