Becoming more educated about nutrition has taught me that you don’t necessarily need to include meat protein at every meal. In fact, it’s better for our bodies to limit our intake of meat protein. It’s difficult to digest & highly acidic, which can cause our bodies to react negatively (gas, bloating, sweating, and ‘stuffed up’ sinuses). Red meat is especially recommended in moderation because of its high levels of iron (mostly for men because unlike women; they don’t lose iron every month so it just surges around in their bodies and can cause joint inflammation & other problems), and saturated fat. Organic edamame (once a week), beans, legumes (lentils, peas), quinoa, nuts & seeds (also a fat so consume in moderation) are all good vegetarian protein sources when combined with a whole grain (makes a complete protein with all 8 essential amino acids).
However, when you do include meat in your diet; make sure that it’s organic or hormone/antibiotic-free. I recently discovered that Loblaws now has hormone & antibiotic-free roast chickens from Beretta Farms, and they’re still only $10! The fact that the price hasn’t changed (from the original chickens) must mean there is more demand for drug-free poultry. Hopefully this will start to happen with organic produce as well!
While we’re on the topic of meat I have to bring up the issue of nitrates. Nitrates are a common additive in cured meats (such as ham, pepperettes, pepperoni, salami, etc.) to help preserve their shelf life, and give them a cured flavour & colour. I used to eat lean turkey pepperettes all the time because they are about 50 calories each and high in protein. I don’t eat them anymore because they have nitrates in them. When nitrates combine with our natural stomach hormones they form nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic a.k.a cancer causing. I’m not trying to scare you, but I think it’s important to know especially for those people that eat cured meats on a regular basis (like I used to do).
Now, with all that being said about meat, I still include it in my diet a few nights a week. But, I have been experimenting with more vegetarian recipes lately much to my poor meat-loving husband’s dismay. However, I’ve managed to find a few that he likes, and this is one of them. I adapted it from a recipe I found in the March issue of Cooking Light (my mother-in-law got me a subscription for my birthday last year, and it’s a great magazine!):
Red Curry Veggie Korma
1 ½ tbsp of coconut oil (or grapeseed oil)
1 medium chopped onion
1 tbsp of minced ginger (from the jar is fine & a timesaver!)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tbsp of red curry paste (you can use green or yellow curry, or tomato paste)
1 ½ tsp of ground cumin
½ tsp of red pepper flakes or cayenne (I used 2 tsp because I like it spicey)
½ tsp of cinnamon
1 cup of lentils
1 sweet potato chopped into cubes
3 small parsnips chopped into cubes (or butternut squash)
1 green pepper
1 cup of organic vegetable stock (or organic veg stock cubes)
1 can of light coconut milk
1 cup of quinoa (great source of protein!) or brown rice
Cook quinoa & lentils according to package instructions (it’s ok if this is done before everything else; it can sit for a few minutes)
Chop onions, sweet potato, parsnips, & green pepper & set aside
Make spice blend: combine chopped garlic, ginger & spices in a small bowl
Heat oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for a couple minutes. Mix in the spice blend & curry paste and sauté for about 30 seconds (be careful not to burn the garlic – take off the heat after 30 seconds if necessary).
Stir in lentils, sweet potato, parsnips & green pepper.
Add the broth & coconut milk to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover & simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the potato & parsnips can be easily pierced with a fork.
Serve over brown rice or quinoa – enjoy!
I would encourage you to start trying out some vegetarian recipes yourself; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Do you have any other suggestions for vegetarian protein sources?