READ THIS: EAT BEANS IF YOU ARE VEGETARIAN
I know lots of vegetarians. Most of them are healthy. But I wouldn’t flippantly switch the word vegetarian for healthy, which I find most people do. Especially as a health coach I will often ask this:
“what do you think of your diet?”
The common answer is:
“oh, it’s pretty good, I’m a vegetarian”.
Ok… hear me out. I get it, meat/animal-based protein gets a bad wrap because the fat content. (That is a whole other topic, and if you are interested in learning more come along to my next workshop – Unlocking the myths around Fat!) However, just because you cut out meat doesn’t mean you added back in a necessary replacement.
Sorry, veggies, I don’t mean to rain on your parade. Go you good things. Eat plants, they rock! But lordy knows we needs us some protein.
Protein is VITAL and is a major component of all muscles, tissues and organs – the growth, maintenance and repair We need it for every process that occurs in our body – metabolism, digestion, transportation of nutrients, oxygenating blood. Protein is necessary for producing antibodies to fight infection. AND it is the main macro-nutrient that keeps our hair shiny and healthy, nails and bones strong and skin glowing.
What exactly are proteins?
Well, they are made up of long chains of amino acids – 22 different types of amino acid in fact – and the body needs all of them to function properly.
There are many forms of protein, which all play an important role. For example, collagen is a protein and is vital for the strength and elasticity of our hair and skin.
The 22 types of amino acid are divided into two groups: essential and non-essential amino acids. There are 14 non-essential amino acids. They are termed non-essential as they can be manufactured by the body and do not have to be derived from food. However, the body cannot produce the remaining 8 essential amino acids (bummer) and therefore they must be derived from the food that we eat.
There are an abundance of superfoods that add in a good chunk of protein – Spirulina, Chia seeds, Quinoa etc. However, there is the old school BEAN.
Yes, we all know that little ditty. But I’m not talking about your cheap and nasty Heinz baked beans. I’m talking wonderful, high-quality beans in a huge variety of colours, shapes and sizes. High in plant-based protein, beans are also packed with iron, B Vitamins and fibre.
You can buy them in their dried form – they’ll keep longer this way if stored in a cool, dark place. Or you can find them cooked and canned (choose organic and a BPA free canned variety if you can).
But, as with all good things enjoying beans has it’s own set of rules.
To avoid digestibility problems like gas and bloating, make sure you soak your beans (if dried) overnight or even for several days. Soak, rinse, leave to dry. Soak, rinse, leave to dry. And do so until a tiny sprout forms.
Alternatively, if you forget to presoak bring them to a boil in alot of water and let it stand for an hour before rinsing thoroughly.
You can also add a small piece of seaweed or kombu to help with digestion.
So, what beans to try?
- Black-eyed peas
- Split peas
Toss beans into a salad, add to soups, serve as a side dish. Beans work well with all different types of seasoning. They add a nice weight and density to meals, especially if you are veggie/avoiding animal-based protein. Or can even sprout them for a crunchy, fresh addition to your meals with an even deeper nutrient content.
Whether you are veggie or not, beans are a fantastic addition to your diet and a great way to include a healthy protein source into your meals.
Signing off with an exhale.
Pause. Listen. Live.
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