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/

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Roasted Apple and Carrot Salad with No-Carb Deep Dish Veggie Lasagna

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Today’s dinner was good exercise for my cutting board. Embracing the cooler weather, I was craving something hearty, warm and included the fresh local apples my mom recently brought back from the orchard. I was also not particularly picky about how much prep time went into this, because it was basically all chopping. Not that I mind, I find it therapeutic (interestingly, although I’ve been chopping my own vegetables since about first grade [I know!] I’ve only cut myself once, and that was last year). This was a two birds, one stone scenario. What a delicious way to blow off steam.

The resulting dish was a delicious warm roasted carrot and apple salad with dried cherries & cranberries, walnuts, and a horseradish & apple cider dressing.

roast salad

Basically take baby carrots, three apples, and 2 oz each dried cherries and cranberries and toss them in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.

Then mix in 2 Tbsp. horseradish, 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, and 4 Tbsp. olive oil.

Next roast in the oven at 450 for 20 minutes.

Finally add in some walnuts (you may toast them separately if you like, I didn’t want them to burn in the oven) sprinkle with garnish of choice, and promptly consume. Or wait until a deep-dish vegetable lasagna is finished getting all hot for ya.

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A cheese-less, noodle-less vegetable lasagna is constructed by layering eggplant, orange bell peppers, tomatoes, pesto and “tofu cream” in a deep pan. After alternating a sufficient number of layers to fill the pan, top it with some vegan mozzarella, bread crumbs, italian seasoning, and a drizzle of olive oil.

lasagna

Bake at 450 for 40 mins to achieve the following:

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I livened up the visuals of mine and added another layer of flavor with some fresh basil on top (to make it more italian?).

Altogether, I’m not sure I’ve ever consumed such a wide variety of vegetables in one dinner before. The flavors were so vibrant, fresh, unique and perfect for the season.

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The only way to follow up such a dinner of course, was with some apple crisp lovingly prepared by mom last night. She even specifically looked for a vegan recipe!

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We’re starting to understand each other.

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Bon appetit.

P.S. Tofu cream is made by food-processing some firm tofu with a 1 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar, some salt and pepper, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp. sugar or sweetener and 1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast. This is a delicious ricotta alternative, but can also be used as an excellent dip.