What’s one topic that’s always popular to talk about no matter what time of year? Whether we’re dreaming about New Year’s goals, summer shape up designs, or athletic targets, the topic of protein always comes up! Protein is synonymous with meat, but do you have to constantly eat platefuls of chicken breasts and steak to get enough protein? Absolutely not!
Dairy of course has protein, but I’d like to focus on plant based foods today. There are many types of plant based foods that contain protein. Not only are plant based foods affordable, contain tons of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and are better for the environment, but incorporating more of them into your diet could either prevent or improve markers for chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and possibly even Inflammatory Bowel Disease. To decrease the risk of various cancers, chronic disease, and achieve healthy weight loss, the American Institute for Cancer Research recommends limiting consumption of red meat, eliminating processed meats and eating more plant based foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.
You don’t need to go 100% vegan to get the benefits of plant based proteins. Try a FLEXITARIAN style of eating! What’s a flexitarian? It’s a mostly meatless diet, with animal protein thrown in here and there. It’s an easy lifestyle to follow because there aren’t any hard and fast rules. All of you have to do is lessen the amount of meat you eat per week. This could mean that you only eat meat once per day rather than at all three meals, follow Meatless Monday, or maybe just eat meat two or three times per week. You get to make your own rules.
Here are some examples of plant based proteins
My white bean hummus with Warm Garlic Rosemary Mushrooms is a great appetizer to start off the meal with some protein, which can help aid in satiety. I love pairing mushrooms with plant based proteins, such as beans, to give the dish a more “meaty” or “savory” flair. Plus, you’ll be getting lots of other good-for-you nutrients. Using chopped mushrooms is a handy trick in flexitarian diets because you can use them extend the amount of ground meat in meatballs, burgers and meatloaf! More mushrooms, means less meat used!
Hummus can be made from pulses other than chickpeas! I've used white beans here and paired them with warm garlicky rosemary mushrooms for an added sensory dimension. Serve with whole grain crackers or whole grain pita chips.
- 3 cups cooked navy beans (if using canned, two 15.5 ounce cans navy beans, rinsed and drained)
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon oil such as olive, canola, grapeseed oil or Thrive Algae Oil
- 2 teaspoons oil such as olive, canola, grapeseed oil or Thrive Algae Oil
- 8 ounces button mushrooms, thinly sliced (dry mushrooms after washing)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Place the beans, garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Blend until smooth.Scrape down sides of processor bowl with a silicone spatula.
- Add the lemon juice and oil and continue to blend until very light and smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add the oil.
- Add the mushrooms and allow to cook, without stirring, for 2 minutes. ( If mushrooms are stirred too early, they won't brown.)
- Stir mushrooms and continue to cook until browned, about 6 minutes.
- Add the salt, garlic and rosemary and continue to cook for 1 more minute.
- Add lemon juice, stir, and remove from heat
- Spoon hummus in a serving bowl and pour warm mushrooms over the top.
- Serve with crackers, preferably whole grain crackers.
Use gluten free crackers if keeping to a gluten free diet is desired.