Karen Ensle EdD, RDN, FAND, CFCS
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County
Have you read recently about young adults not eating packaged or canned food? The interest in eating healthy has become so important to some, they will only consume fresh foods and refuse to buy or eat any processed food products even if they are healthy and a good source of nutrients.
Canned foods have especially been avoided and USDA research shows a 40% decline in recent years of purchasing canned soups, vegetables, fruit, tuna and other staple foods. It seems our millenial generation likes fresh foods best. We need to make sure though, that we have access to all forms of food as refrigeration, packaging and canning of healthy foods are especially important during emergencies, and for those who need shelf stable products that can be stored safely.
Don’t overlook these protein foods for a healthy diet. Here are some suggestions.
Remember a one cup portion of lentils provides about 18 grams of protein. It also contains 16 grams of fiber that will fill you up and provide over 60% of your daily need for roughage along with many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
An individual container of a plant based variety of yogurt will provide Between 11 to 14 grams of protein. If you consume an milk-based Greek yogurt, you will gain approximately 15 grams of protein for 1 cup. Plain Greek yogurt is low in sugar and is a great base of Mediterranean sauces and dips.
Beans are a great source of protein. One cup of organic vegetarian baked beans contain about 12 grams of protein and the same for fiber. Beans are great in soups, salads, rice and bean combinations and as a side dish. Just make sure you watch the sodium content a especially if you have high blood pressure and are trying to keep it as normal as possible.
While most egg dishes are easy to make, hard-boiled eggs can be purchased precooked. Whole eggs scrambled and egg whites can also be purchased in bulk aseptic containers in your local supermarket. They can be found with other dairy products in refrigerated cases or frozen. A single whole boiled egg contains about 6 grams of protein. New research shows the cholesterol in egg yolks has little impact on your overall blood cholesterol in your body. The egg yolk contains most of the egg’s nutrients like Vitamins A, D, E, choline, calcium, iron, zinc and Vitamin B 12, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. The egg whites are almost 100% pure protein. Both egg yolks and whites are nutritious if eaten in moderation.
Burgers made from pea protein actually come from yellow split peas. Split peas are gluten-free and rarely are associated with allergies. One of these burgers can provide up to 25 grams of protein. Other types of veggie burgers made from soy and other vegetable combinations are tasty, fairly low in calories and have acceptable taste.
Taking small steps to make sure you have sufficient protein on a daily basis is important as we grow older. It is also important for kids growth and pregnant women. Enjoy a variety of foods to meet your protein needs.