Protein from Plants

lentils

I’ve never had as many people worry about my protein as I have once they find out that I’m vegan. Of course no one wonders where gorillas get their protein, or elephants, or any other large mammal on earth that doesn’t consume other animals to survive.

In fact, too much protein is a bad thing as it causes your body to leach alkaline minerals such as calcium and phosphorus from your bones to compensate for the acidic environment it creates. Your body actually makes it’s own protein by recycling the cells that are shed from the intestinal wall and from used up digestive enzymes.

protein?

What we need to do this are amino acids which are what we get from food, not protein itself. Therefore, protein is not necessairly equatable to flesh. Eating a variety of plants ensures that we get the right combination of amino acids.

There isn’t even a medical term for protein deficiency, because it would only result from calorie deficiency. Besides, no one would advocate eating a smaller range of veggies just because you’re eating chicken. Make sense?

Maybe it’s just easier to tell people that I get my protein from plants. Like the ones I ate for lunch. Brown rice & black beans (perfect amino acid combo…I mean protein source) with tomatoes, cucumbers and avocados.

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Plus a side of cabbage cooked in sesame oil, topped with some sesame seeds (a great source of calcium, by the way) and dried cranberries.

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All packed ready to go in my delightfully recycled tupperware.

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Bon appetit.

Photos: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5488/7-Health-Benefits-of-Lentils.html, http://www.strongprotein.com/questions/can-a-vegetarian-use-whey-protein-powder/

Fall Pesto Bean Stew

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It doesn’t get better than a weekend free from responsibility, and beautiful weather. Today I got to experience both in one of my favorite places on earth.

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Although technically I’m supposed to wait until the 22nd to celebrate the official start of fall, a crisp 72 degree afternoon at Mount Vernon’s annual Colonial Market and Fair really got me in the zone.

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There were vendors, re-enactors, historical buildings, farm animals, and absolutely beautiful walks to and from the Potomac river. In my opinion, there is no better way to welcome the new season than at the home of the first President of the United States.

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Fall is absolutely spectacular in my corner of the world. There’s a good reason I want to ring it in early! Cool air moves in, the life-sucking humidity moves out, and I can once again tromp around in my beloved knee high boots that have been a gaping hole in my soul for the last four sweltering months. (I’m not the only one who gets excited about the change in season, just ask the couponers buying glittery pumpkins for 20% off at the craft store, or the yoga pants girls foaming at the mouth over pumpkin spice lattes.)

Fall has something for everyone, whether it’s a trip back in time, sparkly gourds or syrupy coffee. But now, I have something for you: Pesto Bean Stew. It’s warm, hearty, rich, and basically the most addictive way I’ve ever experienced beans.

Now go get in the kitchen and make this. George Washington says so.

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Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 red onion, diced

1 garlic clove

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 tsp. dried sage

2 C. sliced mushrooms

1/2 C. dry cooking sherry

2 cans of great northern beans

4 Tbsp. vegan basil-walnut pesto

1/2 C. vegetable broth

2 C. baby spinach

fall pesto bean stew

Method

Saute the onions in olive oil over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.

Add the mushrooms garlic, thyme, and sage, and continue to cook until the mushrooms have given up about half of their water, and have become tender.

Pour in the cooking sherry and bring to a simmer until the liquid has reduced, roughly 4 minutes, until the mixture is a thick consistency.

Spoon in the pesto, and give everything a good stir to make sure it is distributed evenly before adding in the vegetable broth.

Simmer for about 4 minutes and toss in the beans and spinach, reserving roughly 1/4 C. of the spinach.

Stir until the spinach has wilted, about 1 minute.

Right before serving, stir in the remaining 1/4 C. of spinach for a pop of bright green color and texture.

Serving suggestion: alongside some sweet and savory brown sugar roasted brussels sprouts.

Bon appetit.

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