Vegetables with Protein Power
It’s important to eat those vegetables! (Your parents were right, after all.) Now that you’re no longer that little kid sitting at the table, arms crossed, refusing to eat those last few brussels sprouts, you’ve figured out not only that veggies are super good for you, but they also taste pretty good, too. We already know that vegetables are chock-full of minerals and nutrients that our bodies need to thrive. But did you know that many veggies are full of protein, too? What?! Yup, you heard it right: there are loads of vegetables with protein in 'em!
How much protein do we need?
In general, the recommended daily allowance is 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. Our need for protein can fluctuate depending on circumstances, such as level of activity, age, gender, as well as pregnancy and lactation. Most people think of getting their daily protein from primarily meat and egg sources. But, the problem with a diet that has heavy emphasis on meat is that many of us end up getting way more protein than we need, and the source of that kind of protein is hard on our bodies. This can mean weight gain and, in some cases, health issues from too much saturated fat.
Plant proteins for the win!
This isn’t to say that meat needs to be ditched entirely. However, It is possible to get all the same amino acids you get from eating meat by digging into plant-based proteins! (Hooray!) Animal proteins come with more saturated fat and cholesterol than we need, while plant proteins come with a number of added benefits that our bodies need more of.
Like fibre. Fibre is a prebiotic food for the beneficial bacteria that we can’t live without. Phytonutrients are another added benefit, and is sadly lacking in too many diets. They are plants’ natural defence mechanisms and when we consume them, it has the same effect on us. Further, plant proteins tend to be more alkaline than animal proteins and when our diet consists of mostly acidic foods, our body has to find an alkaline source to maintain a proper pH balance. This source is calcium and it ends up getting leached from our bones, which definitely isn’t a desired side effect!
Protein in unlikely places
Who knew that root veggies had protein power?
Potatoes. Not too many people are aware that their spuds contain 3 grams of protein per potato! Most of the nutrients are in the skin. So wash them instead of peeling.
Carrots. Yes, carrots. One whole carrot contains 1 gram of protein. That might not seem like much, but if carrots are a regular part of your meals, chances are you’re going to add a few. Add in a couple potatoes and you’re looking at 10 grams of protein from veggies alone!
Pulses. Pulses boast a whopping 17-18 grams of protein per cup, making them a great meat alternative!
Plant Powered Roasted Medley
Fill 'er up (with good proteins, that is!) and enjoy this warm, comforting root veggie-centric dish!
- 6-8 russet potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 5-6 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1-2 parsnip, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp sea salt or to taste
- 2 tsp thyme
- 2 tsp rosemary
- 1 tsp sage
- 1/2 tsp ground pepper
- 1 red pepper (optional) cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2-3 cups of lentils, cooked and drained
- Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a 12 x 17 cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the first 10 ingredients and toss until fully coated and spread mixture evenly on the lined cookie sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, toss mixture, and add peppers if using. Place back into the oven for another 30 minutes, adding the lentils during the last 5 minutes.
This plant powered dish is hearty enough to be a meal on its own, if you’re willing to share!
*Originally published November 29, 2017