Protein is primary!

In case you don’t already know: protein is beyond a doubt one of our body’s essential components, and one we need to replenish on a DAILY basis. When it comes to protein, quantity, variety, and quality all matter. And eating the types and amount of protein that are JUST right for you and your needs is key to great health in SO many ways. (I’ll explain.)

In brief, protein serves as our body’s repair kit!

The word “protein” comes from the Greek proteios, or “primary,” homage to protein’s significant role in our body. Proteins make up structures including hair, muscles, nails, tendons, and ligaments, and function as enzymes, hormones and components of our genes. Importantly, they grow, heal and defend our bodies internally on a constant basis, serving as our body’s repair kit. We need protein daily to be sure we have the building blocks to serve these essential functions. 

How much protein do YOU need every day?

Keep in mind that you may need more protein for repair if you are training for a marathon or recovering from surgery or a concussion. Consider increasing your protein whether you are climbing a mountain or giving a major speech. Children dealing with ADHD can benefit, too. We’re all different, and our needs for protein can be different, daily. 

If  you are starting to feel sluggish, you may want to look at how much protein you are consuming. Also, how well are you digesting various protein-rich foods? Some are harder than others for each of us. You’ll want to pay attention, and choose according to what works well for you. 

What are the best sources of protein?

Meat and fish, of course; but “protein” is not synonymous with “meat.” In fact, we would do well to include a variety of  plant-based proteins as much as possible.  Populations noted for longevity (aka, “blue zones”) generally eat FAR smaller portions of animal protein than the typical American belly bomb. This is why I recommend using meat as a condiment, rather than a big slab on the plate. Learn more from my post A plate full of health.

Consider adding lots of protein-rich, plant-based foods in your diet. Some of the best include:  
beans, buckwheat, chia seeds, edamame, hemp seeds, lentils, nutritional yeast, nuts, quinoa, seeds, tempeh, and tofu.

It’s summertime — let’s grill!

Grilling is such a delicious way to prepare foods! I suggest you start by reviewing this Safe Grilling Guide from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Especially important: avoid charring your meats or vegetables, which can be carcinogenic. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grill, it just means you want to grill correctly. 

GRILLED BISON BURGERS

GRILLED BISON BURGERS

This lean meat (bison=buffalo) is really just a great excuse to hold a mushroom-a-palooza while getting a load of brain-boosting B12. First we mix the bison with chopped-up cremini mushrooms. Then on top go a few crispy shiitakes that have been tossed with smoked paprika and olive oil. In between? Caramelized onions (ummmmmm . . . ). 

ITALIAN WHITE BEAN SALAD

ITALIAN WHITE BEAN SALAD

Vegetarian and vegan friends might like to grill some vegetables and feature this delicious white bean salad on July 4th or any summer evening. 

Often when I’m developing a recipe, I think about texture as much as taste. Here, there’s a creamy/crunchy thing going between the white beans and the radishes. This is the kind of light fare Italians are known for and that I commonly found served up as antipasti as I traveled across that country. Olives, scallions, mint, and parsley round out the salad, which is tossed in a traditional Italian salsa verde. Light and lovely!

TO SUM UP: THE QUANTITY AND QUALITY OF PROTEIN WE INGEST IS NOT ABOUT SOME THEORY OR DIET (PALEO, VEGAN, ETC.), BUT ABOUT WHAT PROTEIN DOES FOR YOU — REPAIR AND PROTECT — AND ABOUT YOUR UNIQUE NEEDS, FROM DAY TO DAY. BE OBSERVANT :)