Have you adopted the Meatless Monday trend? This simple lifestyle change can have drastic improvements on your overall health. Plant proteins (yes, plants DO contain lots of protein) differ largely from animal proteins that we tend to over consume. Here is just a high level list of the amazing affects of swapping out some animal protein for plant sources:
1. Increases Life Expectancy
2. Reduces risk of heart disease and diabetes
3. Reduces risk of certain cancers
4. Prevents long term weight gain
What is the major reasoning for the first 4?
Plant Protein sources contain the same levels of protein as your animal sources do, but they contain significantly lower levels of fat and no cholesterol. Plant proteins also contain higher levels of vitamins and minerals you do not consume while eating animal proteins.
5. Better for the Environment
6. Easier on your wallet
Below is a great protein packed salad recipe to make for your family. It contains one of my new favorite products; Ancient Harvest Lentil & Quinoa Pasta. This pasta has two ingredients: Lentils & Quinoa…literally that is it. It is an amazing way to add protein into your diet AND get the great taste and sensation of eating a pasta dish without the gluten and carbohydrates from regular pasta. Just one serving of this pasta contains 14 grams of protein!!
The other ingredients in the salad can easily be swapped for other vegetables; especially as the seasons change to make a great meal all year round:
Summer Arugula Pasta Salad Recipe
– Arugula (1-2 bags)
– Cherry Tomatoes (2 cups, sliced in half)
– 1/4 cup of sun-dried tomatoes
– Ancient Harvest Lentil & Quinoa Pasta
– Onion (1/2, sliced)
– 2 tbs olive oil (plus more for dressing)
– 2 tbs minced garlic
– Parmesan Cheese
optional : 1/2 – full avocado diced in cubes
1. Cook the Ancient Harvest Pasta as directed on the box. Once finished and drained, rinse with cold water and let cool on the counter.
2. While the pasta is cooling, turn a skillet to medium heat and add two tbs of olive oil, two tbs of minced garlic, and the sliced onion. Heat for 10-15 minutes or until the onions are cooked and caramelized.
3. Place your arugula, sliced tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, pasta, and Parmesan cheese in a large salad bowl and toss. Drizzle olive oil and white vinegar and toss again. Optional: top with diced avocado.
White Bean Salad
This salad is not only full of flavor but is also so easy to make; start to finish can be just under fifteen minutes. I love making a big batch of it on Sundays or Mondays so I can put the leftovers in the fridge and use the rest of the week for lunches.
1 can of organic cannellini beans – look for ones without salt added
1/4 cup of sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
2-3 cup of kale (or spinach if you prefer)
1/4 cup diced onion
garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste
- Rinse and drain the can of cannellini beans using a strainer
- Spray or pour a few tbsp of olive oil into a skillet on medium heat
- Add in beans, mushrooms, and onions and allow these to cook for about five minutes
- Then add in the sundried tomatoes & kale
- Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder
- Cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes
- Serve by itself, on top of quinoa, or on salad greens and enjoy!
Beans are one of the most underrated foods out there. These little things come in many variations are SO nutrient dense! Beans are something that everyone should try to start adding into their diet a few times a week. Here are just some of the nutritional benefits of beans:
- Great source of Protein (7-10 g per ½ cup)
- Saturated Fat, Trans Fat and Cholesterol Free form of protein; which reduces risk of heart disease compared to red meat that contains all three
- Filled with antioxidants and minerals that help lower cancer risk
- High Fiber content (about 12 g for 1 cup) which is great for aiding digestion
- Good source of B complex Vitamins which improve liver health, skin, hair, eyes, intestinal wall strength, and muscle health. The B complex vitmains also aid in breaking down fat, carbs and protein.
- Beans are very low on the glycemic index and are a complex carb which means they take longer to digest keeping you full longer. They are also great for blood sugar management
Here are two easy recipes using beans; either canned or fresh. If you buy canned look for ones that do not contain any added salt. If you buy dried beans make sure to soak them overnight before cooking; this allows the acids to release from the beans making them much easier to digest. These two recipes can stand alone or make great salad toppers! Both take under 20-30 minutes to make and can be made in large batches to meal prep for the whole week.
Fiesta Bean Salad
1 can chickpeas
1 can black beans
1 orange pepper – cut into small pieces
1 yellow pepper – cut into small pieces
Cherry Tomatoes (1/2 container or 1 cup) – halved
¼- ½ of a red onion (taste preference) – cut into small pieces
½ cup cut cilantro
Dressing: whisk together olive oil & balsamic vinegar with some salt and pepper to taste
Cut all the ingredients and mix together in a large bowl.
Whisk together the dressing in a separate bowl
Drizzle dressing over beans and veggies and mix everything together
Optional: Add some chopped avocado for some extra flavor and fullness
Sweet Potato and Black Bean or Chickpea Patties
2 large sweet potatoes, roasted and peeled
1 cup black beans or chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs red onion, chopped
1/4c cilantro, chopped
1 tbs lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients EXCEPT the black beans into a food processor or hand mix after mashing the sweet potatoes.
STIR in black beans
Refrigerate the mixture for 10-20 minutes
Form into small patties, and cook in nonstick pan with a little olive or coconut oil
4 minutes each side to warm them and crisp the outsides
NOTE: Another variation of this patty recipe is to add in quinoa. You can sub half the amount of beans for quinoa for a different variation of flavor and texture. This allows you to sneak in some whole grains to make this a complete meal!
This article also appears on Women’s iLab to inspire the next generation of female leaders.