Resolution Focus: Protein
Jan 12th, 2016
This week, focus on fueling your resolution for a healthier year with protein. A diet comprised of adequate protein intake is pertinent to overall health. From building and maintaining muscle mass to strengthening hair and nails, protein is a vital part of any diet. Whether you follow a non-restrictive diet, a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle or practice the Paleo approach, we have versatile recipes to help you achieve optimal health and sustained energy.
If you are unsure of how much protein you should be consuming for optimal health, you can use the following as a baseline frame of reference: the US Department of Agriculture recommends that women aged 19-30, on a 2,000 calorie-per-day diet eat 46 grams of protein a day, while men that same age eat 56 grams of protein. Factoring in your activity level and lifestyle is also important, as highly active individuals may need more protein to fuel activity and workouts. Consult your physician to confirm and customize your daily protein intake according to your individual needs.
The Traditional Protein Source
When many people think “protein” they think “meat.” Meat is a complete protein that helps energize and fuel the body. For a protein and nutrient-rich lunch or dinner, turn to salads packed with produce and meats for a wide array of nutrients in one dish! This Big Beef & Bleu Cheese Salad is a great salad for busy weeknights.
The “Super Grain”
While meat is diet staple for many and a complete protein source, there are many other protein-rich foods to incorporate into your diet. Quinoa is often referred to as a “super grain” due to its high nutrient content. This versatile grain is packed with protein and fiber for balanced nutrition. Whether you follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle or simply want to incorporate this high profile, nutrient-dense grain into your diet, quinoa’s versatility makes it the perfect addition to your menu at any meal.
Try adding quinoa to breakfast in place of traditional oats with the delicious Maple-Glazed Quinoa Porridge recipe. Packed with fiber, protein and produce, this breakfast porridge will fuel your morning.
For dinner, try this Avocado and Papaya Quinoa Salad packed with protein and a variety of fruits and vegetables for balanced nutrition. Add extra Greek yogurt dressing and substitute your favorite sautéed veggies for chicken for a protein-packed vegetarian option!
Incorporate more legumes into your diet for added protein, along with a multitude of other nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants. Most legumes are widely available, low-cost, easy-to-prepare and versatile to cook with. Try adding black beans to soups, salads, tacos, hummus and more by whipping up this base recipe: Crock-Pot Black Beans. Make these Sunday to meal prep for various meals all week!
Add your black beans to these Smothered-with-Avocado Black Bean Burritos for a delicious meatless Monday recipe the whole family will enjoy!
As you continue to pursue a healthier lifestyle this New Year, remember that small changes can make a large impact. From adding more protein to your diet to adequately hydrating and incorporating light exercise each day, a healthier you starts with healthier habits. Start small, be consistent and see major results!
For more healthy recipe inspiration, click here.