As a nutritionist, I often talk to people about the importance of protein in the diet. According to nutrition science, meat and other animal products are a source of complete protein as they provide all essential amino acids. While this is certainly true, it is important to note that there are a variety of plant foods that too are rich sources of complete protein: green peas, quinoa and soybeans to name a few. Not to mention, plants offer a variety of other important nutrients such as antioxidants (vitamins A, C and E), minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium, and tons of fiber, which is certainly lacking in the American diet.
I suggest that you have most of your animal proteins (if you are a meat eater) at lunchtime when digestion is strongest and your body can efficiently metabolize heavier foods. Try to stick to a more plant-based diet at dinnertime when your GI tract tends to slow down and breaking down a steak becomes more challenging for your body. You really don’t want to have meat sitting undigested in your belly overnight, trust me!
It is important to note that if you eat a primarily plant-based diet containing a variety of nuts, seeds and legumes, you will meet your body’s daily demand for protein. One of my favorite things to do is mix some gluten-free grains and legumes along with fresh or lightly steamed veggies to make a nutritionally balanced meal that is also very satisfying and packed with flavor.
Try this beautiful salad recipe, a mixture of plant proteins, colorful veggies and seasonal herbs. Pure deliciousness!