Your Source for a Stronger and Healthier You
With the new year fast approaching, I’m sure many of us have our New Year’s resolutions ready to go. And it appears that year after year; health seems to be at the forefront of most of our minds. Now whether you’re looking to slim down, or just want to develop a more balanced diet, it’s essential to include protein. Proteins are our bodies building blocks. Not only do they promote cell growth and repair, but they help our bodies feel fuller, longer. For those of you looking to cut back on calories, you may want to add more protein to your diet. But, here’s the catch – not all proteins are created equal. Most meat, egg and dairy products are high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Consuming too many of these foods can lead to heart disease and other health complications. Of course, eating these foods in moderation is perfectly fine. However, there are plenty of other options available to you if you’re looking to cut back on meat, eggs, and dairy.
The advancements made in alternative proteins within the past few years alone is astounding. A recent article published by Future Food 2050, talks about a new non-dairy protein that can potentially be used as an alternative to soy. The blue lupine flower has recently become a hot new topic. German food technologist, Stephanie Mittermaier, along with colleagues, “have developed a process that enables the protein to be extracted from the seeds of the hardy sweet blue lupine” (Future Food). The results produce a product that tastes like traditional dairy, but is free of gluten, dairy, and cholesterol! This is a perfect product for those who are lactose-intolerant. But, before you rush out to find lupine protein products, beware that Lupine, or Lupin, is a legume. Therefore, those with peanut allergies should not consume lupine based protein products.
Another protein alternative that doesn’t get much attention is algae. Sound like a bit too much? Well, you’d be surprised at the fact that you may have already consumed it. If you’ve ever ordered one of those super healthy green smoothie drinks, Spirulina or Chlorella may have been in it. Chlorella is a micro-algae, whereas Spirulina is a kind of cyanobacteria, called blue-green algae. Both of these are often used as dietary supplements, and specifically, Chlorella, as a protein alternative. A company known as Solazyme has developed a way to grow a strain of Chlorella by fermenting it in closed stainless-steel fermentation tanks, before then drying it and having it milled into a powder. This advancement in the algae growing process has revolutionized how the crop is grown. This micro-algae can now reach adulthood in a matter of days as opposed to months. Algae can easily compete with alternative protein sources due to its added vitamins and nutrients, but for most, it’s still taboo. Only time will tell if this smart option will take off in the future.
Of course, for those of us looking to partake in protein replacements that are a little less intimidating there’s always the option of choosing from one of the following: beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, soybeans, quinoa, nuts and nut butter, the list goes on and on… But, why not just consume red meat or fish for your daily protein intake? Well, eating too much meat, fish and dairy products can expose you to pesticide residue. And fish contains carcinogens and heavy metals, which, unfortunately, cannot be removed by cooking or freezing. You also have to be careful that the meat and dairy products you’re consuming aren’t laced with steroids and hormones. Next time you’re at the store make sure you look for the USDA Organic Certified labels. This will help ensure better quality meat for you and your family. But aside from bettering your health, eating less meat, also means you’ll be helping the environment. Did you know that “according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), chemical and animal waste runoff from factory farms is responsible for more than 173,000 miles of polluted rivers and streams,” (Vegetarian Times).
Now adopting a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and that’s completely fine, but some have chosen to participate in an international campaign known as “Meatless Monday.” This campaign encourages people to go meat-free for a day to improve their health and the health of our planet. I strongly encourage anyone who has yet to try alternative proteins to give it a shot. You never know when you may stumble across something that you love! Below are some recipes to help give you and your family some ideas of what’s available to you. Consider these stepping stones for the days you’re in the mood for something a bit different, while still giving your body the protein it needs.