“Go Lean With Protein”

23 05 2014

Protein is all the rage these days, and it certainly has its place. Protein is an essential nutrient that does more than just build strong muscles.

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw

It functions to not only maintain and repair muscle tissue, but also to make up antibodies for immunity and enzymes to carry out chemical reactions in the body. Proteins are messengers (such as hormones) that transmit signals from place to place, they provide structure and support for our cells, and they help with transport and storage of atoms and molecules. There is some serious biochemistry going on here! Overall, there are more than 10,000 different proteins that make up who we are, so it is no wonder protein is critical to a healthy diet.
Protein plays an important role in overall health. In the arena of weight management, studies have shown that protein increases satiety (in other words, it helps you feel full longer) and can result in decreasing our overall calorie intake throughout the day. It also helps maintain lean body mass during the weight loss process (we lose both fat mass and lean mass when we lose weight) which is important for strength and metabolism.
Protein has been shown to have an important role in chronic disease risk, but the key is not only how much we eat, but the quality of the protein we consume. Protein comes from many sources including red meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. There is also a wide range of acceptable intake (10-35% of your calories daily) which depends on individual needs. Some protein rich foods are healthier than others because of what comes along with them – the fat, salt, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Many protein rich foods are high in saturated fats and sodium, so choose your protein wisely. Most of the fats in our diet should be unsaturated (coming from sources like monounsaturated oils, nuts and seeds). High intake of saturated fats can increase cholesterol levels and LDL levels, so keeping things like fatty meat to a minimum is good advice (think regular ground beef and prime rib). Decreasing or avoiding processed meats is also wise as many of them are very high in sodium as well as saturated fat (think hot dogs, bologna, bacon and sausage). Studies have shown that intake of red meats and processed meats on a regular basis is linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Type II Diabetes and colon cancer. Replacing red and processed meats with healthier protein sources such as poultry, fish, nuts, beans and legumes seems to help decrease these risks. Intake of plant based proteins also increases your intake of fiber and beneficial vitamins and minerals. So, try to choose more poultry, fish, and plant based proteins, and if you must have that “all-American” burger this Memorial Day, choose beef that is at least 90% lean. This will also give you more protein for your dollar- there will be less fat to melt away in the bottom of your grill!
Try these 2 great recipes using healthy proteins like lean ground turkey and garbanzo beans for your Memorial Day picnic!

Southwest Turkey Bacon Burgers with Avocado Spread
Yields 4 burgers
For the Burgers
• 1 lb extra-lean ground turkey
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
• 1 garlic clove, finely minced
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the Avocado Spread
• 1 avocado
• 2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (or regular dairy low-fat sour cream)
• 1 tablespoon finely chopped red onion
• 1 garlic clove, finely minced
• 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

For Assembly
• 4 whole wheat hamburger buns (or gluten free buns)
• 3 slices cooked lean turkey bacon
• 4 thick slices tomato
• 4 romaine lettuce slices

1. Make the Avocado Spread – Combine avocado, sour cream, garlic, lemon juice, and salt, in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
2. Make the Burgers – In a medium bowl, combine ground turkey, onion, garlic, cumin, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to mix well (or a spoon).
3. Divide burger mixture into four even portions and form into 1/2 inch thick patties. Spray a grill pan with non-stick cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat (OR use an outdoor grill). Cook burgers about 3 minutes on each side, or until desired doneness.
4. Assemble the Burgers – Top the bottom of each bun with one slice tomato, followed by the lettuce, burger, and turkey bacon. Spread the top of each bun with about 1 tablespoon avocado spread to finish the burger.
Source: http://whippedbaking.com/2013/02/05/southwest-turkey-bacon-burgers-with-avocado-spread/
Nutrition facts for burger, avocado spread, bun/toppings: 356 calories, 12g fat, 2g saturated fat, 37g protein, 31g carbohydrate, 6g fiber, 760mg sodium (to reduce sodium, eliminate salt and use lower sodium turkey bacon)

Summer Chopped Salad with Garbanzo Beans
Serves 6
• 1- 14 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
• 3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
• 1 english cucumber, diced
• 3 green onions (scallions), diced
• 1 orange or other sweet bell pepper, diced
• 1/4 cup lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
• 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
• salt and pepper to taste
• 4 oz feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Combine garbanzo beans, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, bell pepper, lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, in a large bowl and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, stir in feta cheese and basil. This salad is best made the day before serving or at least 6 hours in advance.
Source: http://www.mountainmamacooks.com/2011/06/summer-chopped-salad-with-garbanzo-beans/
Nutrition Facts: 196 calories, 11g fat, 4g saturated fat, 7g protein, 18g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 324mg sodium.




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