Lentils: Protein Powerhouse

standard October 13, 2014 Leave a response

As a plant eater, I am beyond used to the standard “Where do you get your protein?” question. And while, yes, tofu, tempeh, and other processed soy foods have a high amount of plant protein per serving, I prefer to stick to whole food sources, including nuts, seeds, vegetables, and legumes. Yes, legumes. Peas, beans, and lentils are nutrient dense powerhouses, loaded with not only protein, but also a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.

Sometimes I forget about the versatility of lentils. They are an easy way to substitute meat in a traditional recipe, but they are also fantastic in salads, soups, and dips. And they are also perfect on their own, which I recently rediscovered when I came across a few dal recipes recently.

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Nutrition:

There are many varieties of lentils, differentiated by color. Black lentils are small. Green or brown lentils are the most common. And red lentils break down very quickly, making them ideal in soups and stews.

One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbohydrates. They are also a rich source of non-heme iron, at over 35% DV per cup, and folate, at almost 90% DV per cup. Potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, and zinc round out the significant minerals found in these little nutrient-dense legumes.

Benefits:

The high folate content in lentils aids in prevention of heart disease and birth defects. Their high fiber content helps to keep you full longer, aiding in weight loss and maintenance. As a low glycemic-index food, lentils keep blood sugar low, which also helps in keeping hunger at bay.

Recipes:

Add lentils to a meal with one of these flavor-packed recipes:

Pumpkin: The Definition of Fall

standard October 7, 2014 Leave a response

As soon as September 1st comes along, all anyone can talk about is pumpkin. I am usually on this bandwagon as soon as I spot canned pumpkin in the baking aisle of the grocery store. But this year it was there in July. And moving back to Texas has made me not quite ready for fall foods yet. It’s still 90 degrees here. Not the best time to be making oatmeal and chili and cornbread full of pumpkin.

But then I got a perfect, orange surprise in my CSA delivery last week. It’s almost too pretty to want to eat. So as it is currently sitting and decorating my table, I’ve been pondering the best way to use it.

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Nutrition

While most of us think of pumpkin as a pretty, fall decoration or a canned staple, it has plenty of nutrition in either form. As a member of the squash family, it is loaded with vitamin A and beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds are also a rich source of plant-based iron and protein.

Benefits

The beta carotene found in pumpkin (and other orange veggies) converts to Vitamin A in the body, which benefits vision and keep eyesight sharp. Some studies have also shown beta carotene to have cancer fighting properties.

One cup of pumpkin has over 7 grams of fiber and 10% DV of potassium, which aid in regulating digestion and preventing GI issues. The iron found in the seeds is better digested when combined with the vitamin C found in the orange flesh, providing a key source of non-heme (plant-based) iron that helps to strengthening the immune system.

Recipes

Pumpkin can be used in many forms. Fresh pumpkin can be roasted or pureed. Canned pumpkin adds easy flavor to baked goods. Pumpkin seeds can be toasted and added to salads, smoothies, or enjoyed as a crunchy snack. Here are only a few of my staple pumpkin recipes to enjoy this fall:

 

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Great White

standard August 12, 2014 Leave a response

Eating a plant-based diet has really opened my eyes (and taste buds!) to new foods over the years. And new uses for foods. I have always liked vegetables, but I eat way more of them now that I know more ways to prepare them instead of just roasting or steaming them.

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Cauliflower is one of those new-found wonder-foods that can be made into almost anything. I first discovered the resourcefulness of this veggie from the husband’s paleo dishes. I was suddenly mashing, ricing, pureeing it into whatever carb-rich food it was replacing in a recipe. It was one of those vegetables I unconsciously avoided because it was white. I’ve always associated white foods with no nutritional value. Cauliflower (and potatoes) are one of the few foods that are an exception to this way of thinking.

Cauliflower has a whopping 11 g of protein in one medium head. (And people wonder where vegans get their protein!) Cauliflower is also high in vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C. It’s a terrific source of fiber, folate, potassium, and manganese. 1 cup clocks in at only 25 calories, making it a pretty nutrient dense food. Not too shabby for a white vegetable.

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Looking for new ways to try cauliflower? Check out these creative ways to enjoy this great white vegetable: