I think there are plenty of benefits to focusing on eating more meat free meals. Plant based and vegetarian based foods are naturally low in fat, high in nutrients, high in fiber, and low in calories. Plus eating a more plant based diet is more sustainable for the earth. Making the shift to focus meals and meal planning around vegetables, grains, and beans that are in season, then filling in with lean meat and dairy, is not only better for your body, but also better for the enviroment. But one big thing that is easy to miss when trying to eat more vegetarian based meals is protein. Being very active people, we all know how important protein is for our bodies and our recovery. So if we are trying to get more plant based protein in our diet, is it complete proteins?
The term complete protein is referning to the amino acids, the building blocks of protein. There are 20 different amino acids, and 9 that your body doesn’t produce on its own. This makes those 9 amino acids essential, since you have to get them from outside sources. Meat and animal by products are easy sources of complete protein, as it has all 9 essential amino acids. But when you are trying to get protein from meat-free meals, you have to make sure you are getting complete protein sources. But it is easier than you think. We don’t need to get every essential amino acid in every meal we eat. Just as long as we are getting all 9 essential amino acids througout the day, our bodies will get the complete protein that it needs.
What if you want to get complete proteins in every meal? Its easier than you think. Pairing different plants with limiting amino acids with another plant with different limiting amino acids will make a complete protein. Here are some easy combinations to get you on the right track:
- Edamame – This is one of 2 plant based foods that actually delievers all 9 essential amino acids all by itself. You will get 9 grams of protein per half cup.
- Quinoa – This is one of my go-to ingredients for meal planning. It not only is a great carb source, but also high in fiber, magnesium, and iron. And is a complete protein source on its own!
- Rice and Beans – Together they make an easy go-to complete proteins source. With a vast variety of both beans and rice, combinations are endless.
- Peanut Butter and Whole Grains – or a peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread.
- Hummas and pita bread
Those are just some quick and easy combinations, but remember, just as long as you are eating a variety of protein sources throughout the day, you will be getting all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs.
So today I am going to share with you a recipe with one of my favorite go to products I stumbled upon on my quest to eat more meat free meals, that is naturally high in protein and carbs, and is also low in fat. Banza Pasta is made from chickpeas, but taste as delicious as eating regular pasta. It’s a new to me product, so I have been experiementing with recipes to come up with some go-to meals to use with it. Hope you like this one. Plus this recipe is a great meal prep recipe that you can take on the go and not have to worry about heating up!
Protein Greek Pasta Salad
makes 4 servings
- 8 oz Banza Pasta
- 8 oz Non Fat Greek Yogurt
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 2 to 3 Tbsp fresh dill – chopped
- 3 tomatoes, chopped – about 6 oz
- 1 English cucumber, chopped
- 5 oz reduced fat Feta
- 14 oz can green olives, chopped
- Baby spinach, chopped (use as much as you like)
- Cook Pasta according to package directions
- While pasta is cooking, combine yogurt, lemon, and dill. Mix well and set aside
- Chop all the veggies, and put in big mixing bowl.
- After pasta cooks, drain, and rinse under cold water to cool down.
- Add pasta and yogurt sauce to bowl and mix well. Add salt to taste and mix
Macros C - 40.4 P - 27 F - 13