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12 surprising sources of protein banner
12 surprising sources of protein banner

12 surprising sources of protein

No meat, no worries. When it comes to getting enough protein, there’s an abundance of plant foods that deliver a protein punch.

Protein is important for growth, tissue repair and recovery from exercise. It’s made up of smaller parts called amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that we need for good health. Our bodies can make 11 and the other nine need to come from our food – these are known as ‘essential’ amino acids.
 
Some foods provide a few essential amino acids, others provide them all. If you eat a wide variety of food you’ll be sure to get the protein you need.
 

Here are 12 surprising sources of protein:

1. Pistachio – 30g handful = 6g protein
These tasty little morsels are the perfect package providing the awesome combination of plant protein, iron and zinc – important nutrients if you are on a vegetarian diet. Pistachios and almonds have the most protein of all nuts with just one handful containing 6 grams. Another nutty option is cashews, providing 5 grams of protein in one handful.  

2. Peas – a cup (cooked) = 7g
Pass the peas please! Like all legumes, peas pack a protein punch with a cup of peas providing almost 8g of protein. These little dynamos are also big on fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K. Now forget the mushy, over boiled peas your mum served you as a kid and think about the burst of sweetness from adding fresh peas to salads, pastas, frittatas or even pureed in pestos.

3. Amaranth – half a cup (cooked) = 4.7g
Amaranth is the cousin to the “on trend” quinoa and is rising in popularity because of its high protein content. This ancient pseudo-grain (it’s actually a seed) is gluten-free and contains all the essential amino acids. It can be popped to create a crunchy topping, cooked into porridge, used in salads like quinoa or ground into flour.

4. Cereal – two wheat biscuits = 3.63g
Aiming for 20g of protein at brekkie may help regulate your appetite and keep you full for longer. To hit this target, there’s no need to fuss with a fry up. Wholegrain wheat is a source of amino acids with something as quick and easy as two wholegrain breakfast biscuits containing 3.63g of protein - and that’s before you add milk. A serve of oats provides 5g of protein and there are also high protein breakfast cereals now available. So cereal + milk + a latte will quickly add up to 20g of protein.

5. Soy beans – 150g (1 cup) (cooked) = 20.2g 
Soy beans knock it out of the park when it comes to protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids and the amount of protein they provide per serve is almost as much as meat. What’s even better, you’ll gain the benefits no matter whether you eat soy beans in their pod or in the foods soy beans are used to make such as tofu, tempeh, and many meat alternatives. (170g of tofu provides 20.4g of protein and 100g tempeh provides 23.2g.)

6. Milk (Soy or Cow) – a cup of low fat milk = 9.5g
If you are looking for an excuse for your morning cappuccino here it is! Milk and fortified soy milks really are a glass of goodness, providing all the essential amino acids, as well as B group vitamins, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. If you prefer milk alternatives, there’s no need to miss out on the protein, with soy milk providing as much protein per cup, plus other nutrients.

7. Potato – medium size potato = 4g
The humble spud often gets a bad rap in the nutrition stakes, but a tasty potato should not be dismissed. A medium sized potato will provide around 4g of protein and is also a good source of potassium. Try baking them whole and enjoy skin and all, for extra fibre and B group vitamins. 

8.  Peanut butter – 1 tablespoon = 5g
Whether snacking on apple slices with peanut butter, or spreading it on your morning toast, this favourite spread stacks up, providing essential amino acids, vitamin E and magnesium. In fact all nut butters contain protein, so if you’re not a peanut fan try almond butter or the popular ABC spread which contains a nutritious mix of almonds, Brazil nuts and cashews.

9. Broad beans – 150g (1 cup) serve = 11g  
This ancient bean was one of the first farmed crops. In fact evidence of broad beans were even found by archaeologists among excavations of ancient Troy. Known as the kings of beans, broad beans are full of nutrients with a 150g serve providing 11g protein as well as fibre, folate, vitamin C, iron, riboflavin and thiamine.

10. Yoghurt – two thirds of a cup of low fat yoghurt = 12.7g
Yoghurt is a great addition to cereals, smoothies and snacks for a protein boost. The amount of protein will vary from product to product, with natural and Greek-style yoghurts generally containing the most protein, some as high as 15g a serve. Choose plain or natural varieties if you are after less sugar and a yoghurt with at least 100 million colony forming units (CFU) if you are looking for yoghurt that provides good bacteria.

11. Chia seeds – 2 tablespoons = 6g
These tiny seeds have a long list of nutrition credentials including an unusually high amount of omega-3 – an essential fatty acid for brain function and heart health – plenty of calcium, loads of fibre and an excellent source of protein. They are also incredibly versatile, which is why you are now seeing them added to so many recipes and supermarket products. Try chia sprinkled on salads or cereal, added to bliss balls or smoothies, or even soaked overnight ready to start the day with a chia pudding. Now that’s a super food!

12. Chickpeas – 1 cup (cooked) = 11.8g
Chickpeas are budget-friendly nutrition at its best. They are cheap to buy, low in fat, low GI and a good source of B group vitamins, iron, zinc, folate and magnesium. They are also an excellent way to add amino acids to your diet. Mix them with tahini (sesame paste) to make a hummus and you’ll tick the box for a nutritious spread that is a complete protein – a reason to eat more hummus, yes please!

In fact, any legumes are a great source of plant protein with a cup of lentils providing 10.2g and even the old pantry staple, three bean mix containing 5.6g of protein a cup.

So how much protein do you need? It is recommended that men up to age 70 eat 64g of protein per day to stay healthy, and women up to age 70 eat 46g (unless pregnant or breastfeeding). Find out more...

Going plant based: better for your body and the planet banner
Going plant based: better for your body and the planet banner

Going plant based: better for your body and the planet

What are your resolutions for 2018? Eating more plant foods is set to be one of the biggest trends. It’s already gaining momentum with Pinterest searches and saves for plant proteins up 417% in the past 12 months, vegan desserts gaining in popularity and restaurant chefs expected to be replacing meat with plants by featuring tofu and tempeh in more dishes. Even fast food outlets are jumping on board, with Dominos now offering vegan cheese and Maccas turning McVegan. And have you heard about Veganuary?
 
So, whether you make 2018 the year you commit to eating more veggies, becoming a ‘Weekday Vegetarian’ or going completely vegetarian, the switch to eating more plants has never been easier. Plus it’s a decision that can be a healthy win:win for you and the planet.
 

Healthy you

You’re probably aware of the longer term benefits of eating mainly plant foods with research showing it can help you live longer and reduce the risk of chronic disease including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.
 
But what about here and now?

Well, eating less animal foods that are higher in saturated fat and eating more plant foods like nutrient rich fruit, veggies, wholegrains, legumes, nuts and seeds has a wide range of immediate health benefits from boosting your immunity to increasing your energy levels, and can even improve your complexion.

If weight loss was also part of your New Year’s resolution, eating more plant foods could also help you achieve this goal. As well as being big on nutrients, plant-based foods provide plenty of dietary fibre. This will keep you feeling full for longer and help fend off cravings for less healthy snacks.
 

Healthy world

Did you know animal foods are the planet’s leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, more than all transports combined? For New Zealand, about half comes from animal agriculture. Switching to a healthier diet and simply eating in line with our dietary guidelines could make a huge difference. For most New Zealanders, following our dietary guidelines simply means cutting back on meat and eating more plant foods. 

From here, each move towards a more plant-based diet has an even better impact on the environment. In another study that compared the environmental impacts of different diets, the less animal products eaten, the lower the carbon footprint – with the least for vegan diets.
 
The important message is that every bit helps.


 

Tips for going green

So, if 2018 is your year to go green, here are four tips to make eating more plant foods easy:
 
Eat veggies at every meal

New Zealanders have a way to go to meet the recommended 5 serves of veggies and fruit a day, with 38% unable to meet this target. To make it achievable, we really need to be striving to add veggies to every meal. Breakfast is often the biggest hurdle but this can be as simple as adding some spinach or left over roast pumpkin to your morning omelette, adding some greens to a smoothie or spreading your toast with avo.
 

Go local and seasonal

Local produce that’s in season is fresh, delicious and generally cheaper, so make the most of it. Stocking the fridge with seasonal fruit and veggies will not only inspire you to eat more plant foods, it will also help to support local growers and is a more sustainable choice, reducing the need for storage and transport.
 

Prep your plants

Try prepping your veggies for the day or the week in advance. Keep chopped up veggie sticks and fruit in the fridge for a ready-to-go snack, pre-make versatile dips and spreads like hummus that can be frozen in ice cube containers for a single serve, have canned legumes in the pantry so they are ready for the week ahead or roast up a tray of veggies to add to meals.
 

Rework the ratios

If you’re not cutting out meat all together, try to stick to the dietary guidelines. It’s all too common to see oversized steaks or schnitzels falling off our plates. The recommended size for a serve of red meat is actually about the size of a pack of playing cards. By cutting back on meat, you’ll naturally tend to load up on more veggies achieving a healthier balance for you and the environment.

 

RECIPES

Try these delicious recipes to help you increase your serves of plant food across the day.

A community partnership for our children banner
A community partnership for our children banner

A community partnership for our children

The phrase ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ is once again supported by recent research.

A review requested by the Ministry of Health says that a healthy breakfast each day may protect against weight gain and improve overall diet quality. This review also identifies that a healthy breakfast each day can lead to a greater academic performance in children.

With these benefits in mind and research estimating that 68,000 Kiwi children (8.6%) don’t eat breakfast at home each day, the KickStart Breakfast program continues as a community partnership with purpose.

KickStart Breakfast is a partnership initiative between Sanitarium, Fonterra and the New Zealand Government, providing Sanitarium Weet-Bix and Fonterra Milk in schools across the country.

More than a handout of food to children in schools from low-socioeconomic areas, Kickstart Breakfast is an enabler for wider reaching community, social and educational goals which set the stage for Kiwi children to reach their potential.

The early morning breakfast clubs are run by volunteers from the school’s extended whanau (family) to ensure success through a sense of local ownership. The breakfast club volunteers are the unsung heroes of the program, not only providing warm rooms, bowls and spoons but also facilitating a supportive, fun and encouraging environment.

Breakfast clubs provide a safe space for students to enhance social skills, take on extra responsibility (helping the community volunteers set up and pack down breakfast) and grow academically through the wider benefits of breakfast.

Schools with active Kickstart breakfast clubs have reported an improvement in the levels of student learning and concentration.

Branching out: resetting our screen time addiction with nature banner
Branching out: resetting our screen time addiction with nature banner

Branching out: resetting our screen time addiction with nature

New Zealand teenagers are spending more than six hours a day in front of screens – that’s more time than some of us spend sleeping!

For many of us, screens are not only an essential part of our work, but an essential part of our lives. Often, we simply don’t have the option to put ourselves on a total screen time ban. But it is worth keeping an eye on the amount of time your screen is taking up in a day as too much screen time has been linked to anxiety, depression and reduced sleep quality.
 

Is nature the solution?

Whether it’s outdoor daily exercise, a weekly walk through the bush or along the beach, or simply spending time in the garden, research consistently shows that spending time in nature can reduce anxiety, improve mood and strengthen your relationships. Just 30 minutes a week can make a difference.

So if too much screen time increases anxiety and getting into nature reduces it, why not try a direct swap? Find some time – whether it’s an hour a day or an hour a week – to put your phone down and get outside.
 

Swapping screens for nature: tips to inspire you

Start small: Is your phone the first thing you reach for when you wake up? Before you go to bed, pop it in a drawer or leave it charging in the kitchen. When you wake up, head outside for those first 10 minutes you’d normally spend mindlessly scrolling and spend that time doing some outside stretching, meditating, or just appreciating the new day. Then you can grab your phone!

Meet you for a walk: Consider inviting your colleagues to take part in the swap, and invite them on a ‘walking meeting’. This gets everyone up and out of the office, with the added benefit of getting you moving and using nature to inspire fresh thinking.

Bring nature inside: We can’t be outside all the time, so why not bring a bit of nature inside? Plants on your desk at work and throughout your home will not only give you a sense of nature and improve the air quality, they also look great.

Screentime addict? There’s an app for that. Here are some of our favourite apps that can help you unplug and recharge:
 
  • Moment (iOS) – track how much you and your family use your phone and tablet each day, with the option to set daily limits.
  • Headspace (Android and iOS): Turn your phone to ‘do not disturb’ and switch on a guided meditation with one of the most soothing voices online.
  • AppDetox (Android): If apps are your vice, AppDetox can help you put down the Candy Crush and pick up your running shoes. Set your own parameters and be reminded when you need to put down your phone.
Small diet choices change lifetime habits banner
Small diet choices change lifetime habits banner

Small diet choices change lifetime habits

When we think of weight gain, a few different things most commonly come to mind. For many, it's the obvious physical changes such as whether your clothes still fit or that you're finding it harder to do day-to-day activities.

Thinking long-term, you might consider the increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes that comes from being overweight or obese. But we often overlook the risk of cancer.

British scientists have recently looked at data from 300,000 Americans, monitored for more than 15 years. They found that both men and women whose body mass index rose from a healthy level to an overweight or obese level over those years had a significantly increased risk of various cancers, including breast and bowel, compared to those who remained at a healthy weight.

This kind of finding is not surprising: there's a lot of research linking excess body weight to an increased risk of cancer. It doesn't show that simply being overweight causes cancer - it may well be that certain lifestyle choices that lead to a gradual 15-year weight gain are the cause. What it does indicate though is that, for most of us, losing and gaining health is a gradual process.

While the "six-week body transformations" and "five-day juice fasts" make for great headlines, they don't address the true basis of health: small, simple choices made daily add up to lifelong healthy habits.

So begin looking for simple ways you can pack more plant foods into each meal, as well as ideas to incorporate activity and adequate sleep into your daily life, to start your sustainable journey to health.

- Originally published in the Adventist Record

Mood food banner
Mood food banner

Mood food

If you have days when you feel down and blue, you’re not alone. Our fastpaced, modern lifestyle can easily zap energy levels.

A recent report, ”Changing Diets, Changing Minds”,  from the UK highlights the growing problem in the area of mind, mood, and well-being, which industrialised countries face. It reports a 20-fold increase in depression since 1945.

Apart from a breakdown in traditional social networks and relationships, financial stresses, and increased work hours, our diets have changed over the last 50 years. We eat less fresh, local produce and more refined and processed foods that hide unwanted sugars, fats, and additives. And yet, what we feed ourselves can make a world of difference to how our brain functions and how we feel.

5 ways to lift your mood

1. Have a good breakfast every day

It will refuel your brain, lift your mood, and lower stress levels. Breakfast is brain food!

2. Include foods rich in B vitamins

These include wholegrain breads and high-fibre breakfast cereals, green leafy vegetables, soybeans and other legumes, sunflower seeds, and low-fat dairy or B12-fortified soy milk. Vitamin B12, and folate in particular, can assist with low mood and depression.

3. Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to make you happy

Although a vegetarian diet is always desirable, try salmon (if personally acceptable), linseeds, walnuts, or omega-3 enriched eggs.

The type of fats you eat can have a profound effect on your brain function since 50 percent of the brain is made up of fat! The cells that transmit signals in the brain are unusually rich in omega-3 fats, meaning this fat is really important. Yet depressed people have low levels in the body.

4. Drink plenty of water

Aim for at least 8 glasses daily. Dehydration causes fatigue and is sometimes mistaken for hunger. Adequate water is needed to keep brain cells functioning optimally.

5. Activate yourself

Walk daily to boost your self-esteem, distract yourself from negative thought processes, and help you sleep better.

If you have days when you feel down and blue, you’re not alone. Our fastpaced, modern lifestyle can easily zap energy levels.

Reprinted, with permission, from Signs of the Times. 

For information about depression:
Lifeline New Zealand
Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand
Depression Helpline
The Low Down

Moderation: how to celebrate and stay healthy banner
Moderation: how to celebrate and stay healthy banner

Moderation: how to celebrate and stay healthy

There’s nothing like a good celebration, bringing friends and family together to enjoy all we’re thankful for. And more often than not, we celebrate over food.

It’s enjoyable and rewarding to prepare a meal for those we care about, and we relish the sights, smells and tastes that come with it. Just a whiff of a certain spice can take us right back to childhood, and while our memory of the events themselves might become less reliable over time, we’ll never forget the taste of a delicious family meal.

Part of the reason these meals stand out in our memories is that they’re so different from our everyday food routine. We indulge ourselves with friends and family, which is fine as long as this is an exception to a generally healthy diet. It’s when these indulgent food choices become the norm that we can run into trouble. So how do we ensure we enjoy the celebrations, but keep them in proportion to a balanced lifestyle?

Moderation

We hear the dreaded word “moderation” all the time, but there are a lot of misconceptions about exactly what moderation is for healthy bodies, hearts and minds.

Most importantly, it isn’t about deprivation, it’s about balance – finding that place where we enjoy our food without allowing the choices we’ve made affect our longterm health.

However, “everything in moderation” is also not a free pass to eat anything and everything. It’s about understanding the role certain foods can play in a healthy diet and not beating ourselves up for choosing to indulge every now and again.

Let’s look at some practical tips to stick with moderation when celebrating with family and friends.

1. Save yourself for the main event

We’ve all been to a party where we’ve filled up on the delicious finger foods that come around before dinner. Then we still eat a hearty dinner … and then there’s dessert. So try to stick with the plant-based finger foods like veggie sticks and hummus, and avoid the deep-fried or pastry-heavy options. Use the time before the main meal to catch up on some conversation over a drink. Speaking of drinks …

2. Don’t drink a meal’s worth of kilojoules

Soft drinks and alcohol pack a wallop of empty kilojoules that don’t fill you up, so it’s easy to overdrink. Grab some sparkling water instead with a wedge of your favourite citrus fruit or berries crushed into the glass, or go for a low-kilojoule option you can drink all night long.

3. Plant yourself in front of the plants

If the dinner table has all the food spread out to share, try to sit by the vegetables and take a good helping of them first. Then you’ll usually find that you don’t have to try so hard to eat less of the poorer choices.

4. Enjoy your dessert

Indulging yourself at the end of a meal should be enjoyable, but you don’t have to eat a huge helping. Also, if you’ve got a choice of desserts, be sure the one you pick is the one you really want.

Think about it first. Do you want a smooth or crunchy texture? Do you feel like a hot or cold treat? Would you prefer something light and fresh or rich and creamy? That way, you’re more likely to end up satisfied, and less likely to eat your way through the dessert table until you find one that hits the spot.

5. Don't be hard on yourself

The way we look back afterwards on what we’ve eaten is just as important as thinking about it while we’re making our choices. Don’t be hard on yourself. Tomorrow is another day when it comes to food choices – you’ll have another chance at your next meal, even!

Building good eating habits, by prioritising core food groups such as vegetables, legumes, fruit and wholegrains, will help you to enjoy a healthy relationship with those tempting treats.

 

Can chocolate be healthy? banner
Can chocolate be healthy? banner

Can chocolate be healthy?

Chocolate is a food most of us enjoy, although the belief that it’s unhealthy can take the edge off its delicious taste. But don’t let guilt spoil your pleasure, because good-quality dark chocolate actually has many health benefits.

Cocoa, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, is an even richer source of antioxidants than healthy foods such as wholegrains, fruit and vegetables. Antioxidant compounds protect us against the damaging free radicals generated by refined sugars and over-cooked foods. Antioxidants also slow the digestion of sugars, giving dark chocolate a low glycemic index (GI).

The cocoa in chocolate is also an excellent source of important minerals such as iron, magnesium and chromium. In fact, cocoa is one of the best vegetarian sources of iron and can help maintain healthy levels in our blood. The magnesium in cocoa helps our body produce dopamine, which enables us to better cope with stress. And chromium is an important trace element that helps protect against the onset of diabetes.

Recently scientists have discovered that compounds in cocoa “switch off” genes in our DNA that encode for fat synthesis and fat transport. This means that cocoa partly blocks the mechanism for storing excess calories as fat.

But what about the fat in chocolate – isn’t it saturated? Actually, one third of it is similar to that in olive oil; another third is a saturated fat that our body converts to an olive oil-like fat; and the last third is a saturated fat that helps strengthen our cell membranes. A number of studies have shown that the fat in dark chocolate does not increase cholesterol levels, as other saturated fats do.

So the health message is – choose dark chocolate, and enjoy in moderation!